US resolution on sex abuse triggers debate in Security Council

United Nations, March 11 (IANS) The UN Security Council convened a meeting on sexual abuse by peacekeepers where a draft resolution, pushed by the US for strong action against perpetrators of such misconduct, has triggered debate among several council members.

The draft resolution, which was circulated to the 15-nation council last week, would require repatriation of whole peacekeeping contingents where there is credible evidence of patterns of sexual exploitation and abuse, Xinhua quoted diplomats as saying on Thursday.

Egypt’s UN Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta said his country “strongly opposes collective punishment against forces that are making the ultimate sacrifice to implement mandates in very difficult conditions”, and the cases of sexual abuse should not be used as “a tool to attack troop-contributing countries”.

Aboulatta also said the body within the UN in charge of examining issues of conduct and discipline in the framework of peacekeeping operations is the General Assembly, which represents 193 member states as well as troop-contributing countries and would examine the issue from “a broader angle”.

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Iliichev said “the draft resolution is far from ideal” since the document, which was expected to focus on military and police personnel in peacekeeping operations, does not include UN civilian personnel.

The draft resolution came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented his 2015 report on measures of preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in the UN system.

The report said the total number of allegations of such misconduct recorded last year was 99, with 69 of them taking place in countries where peacekeeping operations are deployed.

According to the report, at least 22 children were sexually abused by peacekeepers.

US Ambassador Samantha Power argued that the council does have a role to play in overseeing discussions on curbing sexual abuse and exploitations by peacekeepers, because “it is this council that sends peacekeepers into conflict areas”.

“The Security Council cannot have responsibility for protecting civilians against all threats, from all forces, except those whom we directly oversee,” she added.

As for repatriation of a whole contingent for sexual exploitation and abuse, Power said it sends a clear message that there will be consequences for failing to address this serious problem.

The draft resolution is first-ever of its kind being discussed in the most powerful body of the UN.

The last time the Security Council adopted a document on prevention of sexual abuse was a presidential statement in 2005, almost 11 years ago.

The statement said the council would consider including relevant provisions for prevention, monitoring, investigation and reporting of misconduct cases in its resolutions establishing new mandates or renewing existing mandates.

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