Leaders of 48 countries and 22 United Nations entities on Thursday signed a joint statement supporting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ campaign against sexual abuse in the world body. They pledged to work with Guterres to implement a zero tolerance policy.
“We recognise the need for the consistent and coordinated implementation of policies and approaches to prevent the occurrence of sexual exploitation and abuse across the United Nations system and the ongoing need to ensure accountability for perpetrators,” read the statement, according to Xinhua.
Among those who signed the statement were Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, United States President Donald Trump, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron.
UN peacekeeping missions are facing allegations of sexual abuse in African countries. In 2017, Guterres launched a campaign to prevent and end sexual exploitation by UN personnel. “Majority of the cases of sexual exploitation and abuse are done by the civilian organisations of the UN,” he had said.
The world leaders encouraged everyone to join the campaign. “Together, we reaffirm our commitment to make zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse a reality,” read the statement. “This is an urgent and moral imperative, as well as an operational necessity to ensure the effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations around the world.”