I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia, Turkey and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
We would like to start by thanking you for this timely and important initial debate on the assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. From the early beginning the EU has supported the strong stance taken by the Secretary General on this question of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers and related personnel and on the support to the victims.
The EU welcomed the adoption of the Revised Draft Model Memorandum of Understanding early this year. However, in our view, steps to increase accountability for sexual violence and abuse by UN personnel ought also to aim at redressing the harm inflicted on the victims of such acts, both female and male, adults and children.
In this regard, the EU also warmly welcomes the Draft United Nations policy statement and draft UN comprehensive strategy on assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations staff or related personnel, as an important milestone in developing a bold and comprehensive policy on support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.
We believe that both drafts, the policy statement and the Comprehensive strategy, continue to be an excellent basis for debate. We also think that our main concern should be towards the assistance to victims rather than discussing substantiations of the alleged offenses.
We are pleased to note that International Human Rights Treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, were used as the basis for the elaboration of these documents. The promotion and protection of human rights in general and women and childrens rights in particular are very high on the EU agenda. Accordingly, it is not a surprise that in the EUs view a Strategy of this nature must meet the minimum standards in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In our view, the principle of non-discrimination of the victims of such acts, although implicit in the spirit of both drafts, should be made clearer also in line with internationally agreed Human Right language.
In the section related to children fathered as a result of sexual exploitation, it is important to secure that the best interest of the child, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, must be respected throughout the process and must remain a priority when assistance and support to the child is provided.
We believe that it is important to develop methods and tools for detection and investigation of sexual exploitation and abuse. The UN must ensure that local populations receive adequate information on how they can access assistance and support and that trained professionals are available to provide appropriate psychological and physical treatment to victims. While recognizing the importance and urgency of this strategy, bigger attention should be given to efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
Although realizing that the positive effect of assisting victims is far greater than the cost of it, we would like to know more details about the financial implications and learn about the funding mechanism of this Strategy. It is not very clear to us how this common funding mechanism will work and how it is going to be coordinated. More details are also needed regarding the mentioned guidelines for financial compensation of victims. These and other EU concerns, comments and questions will be clearly and detailed expressed and shortly forwarded in writing to you.
Rest assured of the support of the EU on this important matter. We remain available to engage with other delegations on informal consultations to overcome any eventual difficulty that may prevent this strategy from being endorsed by this working group. Not having an implemented strategy to assist those that have been harmed by the United Nations presence severely puts at risk our credibility and is not acceptable. We look forward to a conclusive discussion on this strategy in the upcoming session of the Working Group.