10 March 2017, New York – European Union Explanation of Position at the 71st United Nations General Assembly on Agenda Item 123: Strengthening of the UN System upon the adoption of the Resolution on UN Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
Thank you, Chairperson.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its MS.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this position.
- The EU promotes collective action to maintain and implement the highest standards of conduct and to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse. We strongly support the Secretary-General’s leadership in dealing with this difficult challenge, which calls for a system-wide response based on the pillars of prevention, enforcement, victim support and accountability.
- The EU welcomes the efforts of the SG to work closely with Member States on structural, legal and operational measures to make zero tolerance a reality and advocates a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and in ensuring justice. The establishment of the Task Force on UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse is a clear sign of SG`s determination to develop an ambitious new approach to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by those serving under the UN flag. The EU and its Members States look forward to study in detail the SG report submitted just yesterday.
- Almost exactly one year ago the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2272 (2016) was an important step on which the GA should build and develop further actions for a system wide approach. General Assembly resolution 70/286 on peacekeeping cross-cutting issues addresses this issue in a comprehensive and transparent way and provides for the necessary tools to effectively enforce a zero tolerance policy and represents another major step forward in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse. UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security recognizes that women and girls are more often the targets of sexual exploitation and abuse due to the embedded gender inequality in societies, yet another important aspect of our common efforts.
- There must be no backsliding on what we have agreed, we owe it to the victims and our own contingents to set high standards and stick to them. We must stand by the objective to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the United Nations to deliver.
- In this spirit, the EU would have preferred to undertake collective efforts to upgrade our action in a consistent and inclusive manner, in the framework of due and equitable consultation of all stakeholders, added value can only be achieved through a collaborative and trustful atmosphere, aiming to provide a comprehensive response to a comprehensive problem within an appropriate timeframe. Instead, partners were forced into a distracting and rushed process which could have potentially jeopardised the integrity of our results achieved so far.
- Even if consensus was eventually achieved due to flexibility on all sides, the path leading to it missed the opportunity to explore the full potential of our efforts, including the results of ongoing discussions in the C-34. We missed an opportunity of taking important steps forward on this issue, which is regrettable. In addition, this came at a time when we have a clear stir from the SG and there is need for the GA membership to unify around the objective of achieving the highest standards.
- While we are not opposed in principle to discuss SEA in the plenary, we wish to underline that this cannot preclude the mandates of governing structures like C-34, 5C and 6C. We will continue our work to strengthen the UN response to SEA in the competent committees.
- The EU and its Member States have consistently expressed their principled position on the policy of zero-tolerance and therefore the approach of zero-impunity for all United Nations personnel, and personnel serving under United Nations mandates, as advocated by the Secretary-General. The EU encourages an enhanced coordination and collaboration across the United Nations in this regard, and will spare no effort to build a system-wide approach to SEA through genuine consultation and co-operation.
- The EU and its MS are committed to work on the long term with the Secretariat, in a spirit of genuine cooperation with all TCCs and all stakeholders on combating and preventing SEA, including through the training of all personnel, ensuring that allegations are duly investigated, justice is served by the countries who contributed the personnel, and in providing victims with the assistance they require.
I thank you, Chairperson.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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