UN receives 70 new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in three months


The United Nations received 70 new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse across all its entities and implementing partners between the start of April to the end of June, UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said.

There are 18 cases involving peacekeeping operations and 25 from “agencies, funds and programmes”. A request for the names of the missions and countries involved was forwarded to the world body earlier this week with no response received at the time of publication.

Speaking to journalists at UN headquarters in New York, he said not all the allegations have been fully verified with a number still in the preliminary assessment phase.

A total of 43 allegations involve UN personnel, 24 relate to non-UN personnel working for implementing partners and three others relate to non-UN international forces, authorised by Security Council mandate.

Of the 70 reported incidents, 27 took place this year, nine in 2017, five in 2016, ten in 2015 and two allegedly occurred in 2014. The date is unknown for 17 allegations.

The vast majority, 46, are categorised as sexual exploitation, defined as “any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another”.

Another 18 are categorised as sexual abuse, defined as “the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”. Six were classified as “other” or of an unknown nature.

Of the 84 reported victims 46 are women, 17 are girls (under 18) and 12 are females whose age is unknown. In addition, a boy (under the age of 18) and five males of an unknown age are also among the victims.

Out of 88 alleged perpetrators, all but eight are men, with four women and four individuals whose gender is unknown.

According to Haq, to date three allegations have been substantiated through an investigation; two cases have not been substantiated and four were closed due to other circumstances. The remaining 61 are at various stages of investigation or under preliminary review. Sixteen allegations were referred to relevant member states for action.
“We continue our efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse,” Haq said. Regarding the UN’s commitment to end impunity, he explained in June, the UN launched “an electronic tool for screening UN staff dismissed as a result of substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, or who resigned or were separated during an investigation”.