World leaders pledge to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse

World leaders pledge to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse

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The president of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák yesterday September 18, outlined three guiding principles to exterminate the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, naming them as conflict prevention, scaled-up UN efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, and boost women’s participation.

With women disproportionately affected, he said they “must be at the core of efforts to find solutions.” The UNGA president further pushed for a better implementation of the Women Peace and Security Agenda, women’s full participation in mediation and peacebuilding and adequate implementation of gender mainstreaming.

Miroslav Lajčák  who is also the Foreign Minister of Slovakia was speaking at the high-level meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the UN Headquarters.

Also speaking at the event, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres called on the world to condemn sexual exploitation and abuse as he detailed the key initiatives at the heart of his “victim-centred approach” to address the scourge across the UN system.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse has no place in our world.  It is a global menace and it must end,” Mr. Guterres said.

“We are here in solidarity to specifically focus on the behaviour of individuals who exploit their authority to mistreat those who look to the United Nations for protection.” The UN chief emphasized that the unspeakable acts of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the work of thousands of men and women who uphold the UN’s values “often at great personal risk and sacrifice.”

The Secretary-General noted that the UN has a responsibility to set a global standard for preventing, responding to and eradicating the scourge – and addressing its impact.

“It pains me to say that this behaviour is perpetrated by both civilians and uniformed personnel, and in settings ranging from humanitarian crises to peace operations to refugee camps – where people are vulnerable and public safety is largely absent. Every victim deserves justice and our full support. Together, let us make good on that promise,” he concluded.

Jane Connors, the UN Victims’ Right Advocate said “condemnation alone is not enough, what we need now is action.”

In her address, Ms. Connors said sexual exploitation “is rooted in gender inequality and abuse of power. It crushes the dignity of those most at risk,” she said

Some member states have signed a Voluntary Compact that encompasses specific prevention commitments and the creation of a ‘Circle of Leadership’ for Heads of State and Government to demonstrate resolve and commitment at the highest political level to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse was also announced.