Upholding Our Values: Putting Victims at the Centre.

Author:Connors, Jane

"Sexual exploitation and abuse has no place in our world. It is a global menace and it must end.... We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN. Every victim deserves justice and our full support."

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, address to the High-level Meeting on the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse New York, 18 September 2017

The majority of the thousands of women and men who work for the United Nations uphold the values of the Charter and serve with pride and professionalism, often in dangerous or difficult settings. But every allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse involving our personnel undermines these values and principles. Each diverts attention and resources from the Organization's purpose of maintaining peace and security, and promoting and protecting human rights and sustainable development for all. It also erodes the trust of individuals the United Nations seeks to serve.

The Secretary-General is adamant that no one serving under the United Nations flag should be associated with sexual exploitation and abuse. His system-wide strategy, launched in 2017, is transforming the Organization's approach to preventing and responding to sexual exploitation. This strategy prioritizes the rights and dignity of victims and focuses on combating impunity, building a multi-stakeholder network of support, and reorienting our approach to strategic communication towards transparency and raising awareness of sexual exploitation and abuse worldwide.

My role as Victims' Rights Advocate is to ensure that the rights and dignity of victims are at the forefront of United Nations efforts, an objective that cuts across all parts of the strategy. I advocate within the United Nations system and among Member States, civil society and a broad range of other stakeholders to support an integrated response to victim assistance, so that it is rapidly and sensitively delivered; victims are respected, heard and listened to; their cases are taken seriously; and perpetrators are appropriately sanctioned. I am determined to give visibility to those who have suffered and to address the stigmatization and discrimination that victims often face. I also work to ensure victims' access to justice and to increase accountability, which remains elusive for the majority.

The field is a central part of my work. Victims' Rights Advocates are in place...

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