The UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) has embarked on a major sensitisation initiative following incidents of sexual abuse, apparently directed at children, in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Part of the initiative saw Martin Kobler, special representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on an awareness raising and information sharing tour for MONUSCO civilian and military personnel in Kisangani, Bunia, Béni, Kamango, Bukavu, Mutarule and Goma. This was followed by a sensitisation briefing given by MONUSCO’s Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) – Bukavu.
The initiative follows allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN peacekeepers in CAR. The allegations resulted in a Security Council briefing with members stating UN peacekeepers must comply with the relevant provisions of international law, including respect for the protection of human rights. In a statement the Security Council said the UN should “not let the actions of a few tarnish the heroic work of tens of thousands of UN peacekeepers and personnel”.
An external independent panel has been appointed to investigate the CAR allegations.
Kobler was accompanied by MONUSCO Force Commander, General Carlos Dos Santos Cruz on his visit to the seven MONUSCO bases. He made it clear a zero tolerance policy as regards sexual exploitation and abuse was in place and said an increased sense of responsibility should be shown. This would assist in preserving and enhancing the UN’s image among the civilian population they are deployed to protect.
He said he was determined to make zero tolerance – zero indulgence, zero impunity – a reality in DRC.
The CDU-Bukavu session was attended by all MONUSCO staff categories (military, police, civilian, local and international staff as well as casual workers). All were told they are part of the international community of peacekeepers and had to refrain from any conduct contrary to the UN’s core values of integrity, professionalism and respect for diversities.