New UN chief orders high-level task force be formed to tackle sexual abuse

2017-01-06 22:39:46 GMT2017-01-07 06:39:46(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday "as a matter of urgency" ordered a high-level task force be established to develop "a clear game-changing strategy" to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse involving military and civilian personnel, his spokesman said.

Guterres asked Jane Holl Lute, who was named last year by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as special coordinator for improving the UN response to such exploitation and abuse and has wide-ranging experience with the organization, to head up the body, said the spokesman, Stephan Dujarric.

Lute was instructed by Guterres "to convene a high-level task force to develop as a matter of urgency, a clear, game-changing strategy to achieve visible and measurable further improvement," Dujarric said.

"The Task Force will use the upcoming Report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation to present the elements of the strategy and the chair is, therefore, charged to consult widely and as appropriate with all stakeholders among (UN) member states, across the UN system, and with other relevant organizations," Dujarric said.

The United Nations has been dogged in recent years by reports of sexual abuse and exploitation, mostly by peacekeepers from various nations, a number in Africa and particularly in the Central African Republic. Those reports include peacekeepers demanding sex from civilians for services or material.

One of the problems the organization faces is that peacekeepers from various nations work with the United Nations in the field and are subject to repatriation to their home country. It hasn't always been known if any guilty soldiers and civilians repatriated did, in fact, face justice and punishment when guilty.

Lute was named special coordinator last February. At the time she headed the Center for Internet Security, an independent, not-for-profit organization for best-practices in cyber security. She has held a series of posts at the world organization, most notably helping in establishment of the Department of Field Services from 2007 to 2008 and also served as deputy chief of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to Lute, the Task Force is to include William Swing, director-general of the International Organization for Migration; Undersecretary-General Atul Khare, Department of Field Support; Assistant Secretary-General Stephen Mathias, Office of Legal Affairs; Director Christian Saunders, Office of the Undersecretary-General of the Department of Management.

Also included are Lt. Gen. Carlos Humberto Loitey, military adviser, Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Alfredo Forti, special consultant to the secretary-general; Nancee Bright, chief of staff, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; and Francesca Marotta, chief, Methodology, Education and Training Section, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.