[Dateline: New York | Author: Department of Field Support]
Fourteen Chiefs of Conduct and Discipline Teams (CDT), who oversee conduct issues in 16 field missions, met in New York from 27-30 January 2009 to identify the vision, overarching values and strategies for effective work in this critical area.
The CDT were established in November 2005 as part of a package of reforms in United Nations peacekeeping designed to strengthen accountability and uphold standards of conduct for all categories of personnel (related material and documents).
Conduct and discipline is a priority issue for the Department of Field Support (DFS) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Conduct and Discipline officers advise senior management at Headquarters and in the field on prevention of and response to misconduct.
“We are all engaged and we are very much behind you in the field,” Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra told attendees.
The UN has a three-pronged strategy on sexual exploitation and abuse: prevention, enforcement and remedial action.
Prevention strategies centre on the policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse. CDT liaise with Force Commanders and Police Commissioners, provide training and raise awareness amongst local communities and non-government organizations.
The number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving peacekeepers has decreased for the third consecutive year, the Chief of the Conduct and Discipline Unit in DFS, Marie-Anne Martin, said.
“This is an excellent and very visible achievement. It certainly shows that our prevention activities have yielded results and awareness about the type of conduct that is prohibited has increased,” Ms. Martin said.
“However, one case is still one too many and we must continue to be vigilant,” Ms. Martin cautioned.
Peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan, and Timor-Leste currently have mission-specific campaigns underway to combat prostitution/transactional sex involving UN personnel. Funding for these campaigns is provided by Germany.
CDT Chief in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Rahul Sur, said the campaign theme in the Mission was “UN values, our pride, our strength, our protection.”
The team created posters and designed t-shirts to raise awareness, and organized a film festival to show the human face of prostitution and the suffering it brings.
Mr. Sur said the CDT’s work was actively supported by MINUSTAH. “Mission leadership must provide strong and sustained support to conduct and discipline teams and be willing to draw a clear line against unacceptable actions. When mission leaders’ words and actions go together, the result is credibility,” he said.
The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission, is focusing on prevention campaigns targeting under-age prostitution.
MONUC CDT Chief Yewande Odia said the campaign was conducted in partnership with national authorities, with a view to engaging communities to assist CDT to implement its strategies.
Ms. Odia said the conduct and discipline work was strongly supported by the MONUC leadership, and this was very encouraging. She also noted that while CDT had made good progress, there were still many challenges ahead.
The second pillar of the UN’s strategy on sexual exploitation and abuse, enforcement, includes the establishment of complaint mechanisms and tracking and processing allegations of misconduct, which would ultimately lead to administrative or disciplinary action.
Member States have adopted a number of critical resolutions concerning enforcement measures. A revised Model Memorandum of Understanding in 2007 includes provisions on the roles and obligations of Troop Contributing Countries regarding allegations of misconduct, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse [contained in an annex to document A/61/19(PartIII)].
A General Assembly resolution in December 2007 addressed the criminal accountability of UN officials and experts on mission, enabling prosecution in their country of origin or host country (A/RES/62/63).
The third pillar, remedial action, includes follow-up with Member States and support and assistance to victims of abuse. Member States adopted a policy in 2007 to address victims of sexual abuse and children born out of sexual abuse, and funding for assistance which may include medical treatment, counseling, social support, legal services or food and shelter (A/RES/62/214).