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«Fifty-ninth session Agenda item 77 Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects Letter dated 24 March ...»

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United Nations

General Assembly Distr.: General

24 March 2005

Original: English

Fifty-ninth session

Agenda item 77

Comprehensive review of the whole question

of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

Letter dated 24 March 2005 from the Secretary-General to the

President of the General Assembly

United Nations peacekeeping operations have for decades brought peace and

stability to countries emerging from war. The women and men who serve the blue flag do so under arduous and often dangerous conditions. The history of peacekeeping has been one of distinguished collective accomplishment and personal sacrifice.

However, this exemplary record has been clouded by the unconscionable conduct of a few individuals. In particular, the revelations in 2004 of sexual exploitation and abuse by a significant number of United Nations peacekeeping personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have done great harm to the name of peacekeeping. Such abhorrent acts are a violation of the fundamental duty of care that all United Nations peacekeeping personnel owe to the local population that they are sent to serve.

As the allegations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo surfaced, it became clear that the measures currently in place to address sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations were manifestly inadequate and that a fundamental change in approach was needed. I began a process of review to determine the nature and extent of the problem and resolve it. As a first step, in July 2004, I invited His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan, to act as my adviser and assist me in addressing the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel. As the Permanent Representative of a major troop- and policecontributing country and a former civilian peacekeeper, Prince Zeid has brought a vital perspective to the problem and potential solutions. Thus, when the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, in its 2005 report (A/59/19), requested me to make available a comprehensive report with recommendations on sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, I asked Prince Zeid to undertake its preparation. This report I now submit to you. I would be grateful if it could be made available to the members of the General Assembly.

05-24790 (E) 230305 *0524790* A/59/710 The report before you represents the first comprehensive analysis of the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel. It contains bold recommendations directed at both the Secretariat and Member States. In formulating the recommendations, Prince Zeid drew on extensive consultations with Secretariat officials and representatives of the troop- and policecontributing countries that provide the most military and police personnel, as well as on insights from a visit to the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 24 October to 3 November 2004.

I believe that Prince Zeid’s analysis is a fair and honest account of a serious problem. I concur fully with all recommendations relating to the report’s four main

areas of concern:

• The current rules on standards of conduct

• The investigative process

• Organizational, managerial and command responsibility

• Individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability Resolving the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel is a shared responsibility and can only succeed with firm commitment and action by both the Secretariat and Member States. We will need to work closely together and chart a common way forward. I undertake to do my utmost to implement the necessary reforms under my purview, which would go far beyond the initial steps that have been taken to raise awareness in peacekeeping operations of United Nations standards of conduct and to enforce them. I also call upon Member States to act with determination and due haste and to provide the necessary resources to the Secretariat and the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to put in place the important changes required.

The implementation of the report’s recommendations will strengthen the ability of peacekeeping operations to promote good conduct and discipline more broadly and increase the accountability of managers and officers in this area. Since the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse is not confined to peacekeeping contexts, the report also offers many innovative ideas that could be applicable to the wider United Nations system.

United Nations peacekeeping is a noble calling and serves as an integral part of the world’s efforts to maintain peace and security. Sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel must first be eliminated and then prevented from happening again. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Prince Zeid for producing this report, which I trust will be the starting point to drive forward a process of reform that will achieve this goal.

–  –  –

The background of the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations is described in section I of the present report. After the major causes and effects on victims are outlined, the difficulties involved in taking action against alleged perpetrators are described. It is stated that it is now time for the United Nations to take effective action to stop sexual exploitation and abuse.

The problem of sexual exploitation and abuse are dealt with under four main themes. The Organization’s rules on the subject are set out in section II and its investigative process is examined in section III. The civil accountability of the Organization and its managers and commanders with respect to taking effective measures to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse is reviewed in section IV, as is the personal accountability of those who violate the rules of the Organization.

Criminal accountability is discussed in section V.

Rules of the Organization. It is noted in section II that the difficulty of dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse is compounded by the fact that a peacekeeping operation may have up to five categories of personnel. Those categories are governed by different rules, which are described briefly (see annex for a more detailed description). In particular troop-contributing countries are responsible for the conduct and discipline of their troops. The General Assembly should apply the rules set out in the Secretary-General’s bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) to all categories of United Nations peacekeeping personnel, including civilian police, military observers, members of national contingents, United Nations Volunteers, consultants and individual contractors. In addition, the General Assembly should decide that those standards, as well as those set out in the publications entitled “Ten Rules: Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets” and “We Are United Nations Peacekeepers”, be included in each memorandum of understanding signed by the Organization with each troop-contributing country and that the troop-contributing countries be obligated to ensure that they are binding on the military members of their national contingents. The rules should be made readily available to all members of a peacekeeping mission; they should be issued in card form to contingents; and the troop-contributing countries and the Secretary-General should cooperate in publishing them in the languages of the contingents, at United Nations cost.

Investigations of the Organization. In section III, it is pointed out that specialized expertise is required for investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. The establishment of a permanent professional investigative mechanism to investigate complex cases of serious misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, is recommended. Furthermore, an expert in military law, preferably a prosecutor, from the troop-contributing country concerned should participate as a member of any investigation of members of its contingent. That will ensure that the investigation gathers evidence in a manner that satisfies the requirements of national law so that further action can be taken if it is concluded that misconduct has occurred. It is also recommended that the memorandum of understanding require the troop-contributing country to share information that it has obtained through its contingent’s investigations into the incident. The troopcontributing countries should hold on-site courts martial, since that would facilitate access to witnesses and evidence in the peacekeeping area. Troop-contributing


countries whose legislation does not permit on-site courts martial should consider reforming their legislation.

Organizational, managerial and command accountability. In section IV of the report the accountability of the Organization for peacekeeping operations is examined, as well as its consequent obligation to take reasonable steps to attempt to eliminate the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel. The accountability of managers and commanders in implementing the programmes and policies adopted by the Organization is also discussed.

Accountability of the Organization. A series of measures are recommended to help eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions, including extensive training, an effective programme of outreach to the local community, a data collection system to track the investigation and resolution of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse and the establishment of a few full-time positions at Headquarters and in the field to coordinate action by missions on those issues.

Recommendations are also made for mission-specific measures to deal with the problem and measures to help make life in missions less difficult. In addition, the United Nations should make basic assistance available to alleged victims.

Accountability of managers and commanders. It is recommended that the measures to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse be made part of the performance goals of managers and commanders. Furthermore, managerial performance should be rated in accordance with the actual implementation of those goals. Similar recommendations are made with respect to the assessment by the Force Commander of the performance of contingent commanders and senior officers. Managers and commanders who take effective steps to deal with the problem and who ensure that allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse are properly investigated must be rewarded. Those who fail must be removed.

Individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability. The individual accountability of those who violate United Nations prohibitions against sexual exploitation and abuse is examined in section V.

Individual disciplinary accountability. It is recommended that there be strict disciplinary accountability for peacekeeping personnel who violate the Organization’s rules against sexual exploitation and abuse. The General Assembly should define acts of sexual exploitation and abuse as serious misconduct within the meaning of the Staff Regulations to emphasize that Member States will not tolerate such abuse. In addition, the General Assembly should request the Secretary-General to introduce expedited procedures to deal with such cases, including suspension without pay when appropriate. It is recommended that the model memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and troop-contributing countries provide that, if a Department of Peacekeeping Operations investigation in which they participate concludes that a member of their contingent committed an act of sexual exploitation and abuse, the country must agree to forward the case to its competent national or military authorities to be considered for prosecution in accordance with its laws and to report the results to the Secretary-General.

Individual financial accountability. It is recommended that United Nations peacekeeping personnel be held financially accountable for harm caused to victims as a result of their acts of sexual exploitation and abuse. In particular, the General


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