Root out sexual abuse, officials told

Click to follow
Indy Politics

This is a clear response to molestation scandals that surfaced earlier this year, notably allegations involving the former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers.

Mr Lubbers resigned as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after The Independent published findings of a secret internal UN report that apparently backed up earlier claims that he had made inappropriate advances on a female member of his staff at his headquarters in Geneva.

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, was also rocked this year by revelations, reported by this newspaper, of UN peacekeepers sexually exploiting young women and girls in Congo in return for small favours such as sweets.

The reverberations of these embarrassments for the UN are clearly evident in sections of its final summit declaration on reform. In particular, they surface in paragraph 165 of the text, which reads: "We insist on the highest standards of behaviour of all UN personnel and support the considerable efforts under way with respect to the implementation of the secretary general's policy of zero-tolerance regarding sexual exploitation and abuse by the United Nations personnel both at headquarters and in the field."

The document, to be signed by all 191 UN member states at the close of the summit tomorrow, also calls upon Mr Annan to submit proposals to the General Assembly before the end of this year "leading to a comprehensive approach to victims' assistance".

Mr Lubbers appeared to have weathered the allegations against him until the publication of the internal memorandum in February this year.

He travelled to New York to consult Mr Annan and told reporters that he was innocent and had been given the support of the secretary general. However, days later, Mr Lubbers resigned. He continued to insist upon his innocence.