Remarks at a UN General Assembly Meeting on Agenda Item 123: Strengthening of the UN System

Maura Connelly
Senior Advisor for United Nations Management & Reform
New York City
March 10, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States welcomes this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to effectively address the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse and to reaffirm our collective support for the United Nations zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen its implementation.

Sexual exploitation and abuse inflicts significant harm on vulnerable communities, the very communities who look to the UN for protection and assistance in some of the world’s most dangerous places. It also undermines the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN, in particular when those responsible are not held to account for their deplorable actions.

The United States will continue to welcome future engagement with Member States on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse. This Assembly adopted two recent resolutions on sexual exploitation and abuse. The first was adopted in June 2016 following consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, A/RES/70/286. In December, this Assembly adopted a resolution on criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission, A/RES/71/134. In both resolutions, the Assembly welcomed the Secretary-General’s determination to fully implement the zero tolerance policy on SEA, reaffirmed the need for enhanced coordination for victim support, and agreed to increase transparency measures regarding SEA allegations. Additionally, annual and ongoing discussions in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, C-34, on conduct and discipline address with other aspects of this important issue.

My delegation commends this Assembly for working constructively towards a resolution. This consensus reflects Member State support for the Secretary-General in implementing the SEA zero tolerance policy. It is the result of many delegations’ hard work, flexibility, and commitment to addressing this issue.

We would like to align ourselves with the statement made by CANZ. While we welcome this agreement by consensus, we believe that this process and its related timelines could have been more broadly consultative, taking into account the level of interest of many different delegations to positively contribute to its outcome. Mr. President,

The United States firmly supports the authority of the Secretary-General to implement the UN zero tolerance policy. We reaffirm his particular obligation to repatriate any peacekeeping units that engage in a pattern of systematic SEA and to replace contingents whose governments fail to properly investigate allegations or to hold accountable those found responsible. SEA is a problem throughout the UN, including the funds and programs, and both Member States and the UN, through all of its relevant organs, must work together to prevent acts of SEA, hold perpetrators to account, and to help victims receive the assistance that they need. Today, we reaffirm that we all must continue to do our utmost to address this cancer wherever it may exist in the UN system, and to promote accountability for perpetrators of these unacceptable acts.

Thank you.

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