Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has invited world leaders to a special event Monday on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse — an issue that has left a black mark on the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations and persists despite U.N. vows to combat the scourge.
Guterres told reporters this week that the United Nations has drafted a compact which he hopes the organization’s 193 member states will sign. According to the U.N. it emphasizes “the shared principles” of the U.N. and member states for conducting peace operations including commitments to prevent sexual exploitation.
The U.N. chief said he is also creating a “Circle of Leadership” comprising heads of state and government who make commitments to end impunity for alleged perpetrators and to strengthen measures to prevent sexual exploitations and abuse in international deployments. The leaders joining the circle will be announced on Monday, and a U.N. official said there are about 50.
In March, Guterres announced new measures to tackle the increase in sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers and staff, including a new focus on victims and bans on alcohol and fraternization for troops. He cautioned then that “no magic wand exists to end the problem” but said, “I believe that we can dramatically improve how the United Nations addresses this scourge.”