UN Establishes Peacekeeping Conduct and Discipline Units
Thursday, August 04, 2005 9:15 AM

Latest Move in Reforms to Tackle Sexual Exploitation, Abuse

NEW YORK, 3 August (DPKO) -- The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations has instructed eight of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations to establish immediately Conduct and Discipline Units.

Each office will be staffed by senior-level experts on personnel conduct issues and will replace mission focal points on sexual exploitation and abuse, who were installed following reports of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations over the past year and a half.  The Conduct and Discipline Units place dedicated, senior and skilled personnel in several peacekeeping mission headquarters.  They will be guided by a Conduct and Discipline Unit now being staffed in the Department of Peacekeeping Operation’s New York Headquarters.

The Conduct and Discipline Units will address issues such as preventing misconduct, handling complaints and data management and ensuring compliance with United Nations standards of conduct.  United Nations rules forbid staff from contact with prostitutes, forbid sexual relations with anyone under 18, and “strongly discourage” relations with beneficiaries.  (In UN peacekeeping, that means all members of the host population.)  Individual peacekeeping missions also have their own codes of conduct with more stringent requirements, including such measures as curfews, lists of off-limits establishments, a rule that troops wear military uniforms off-duty, and telephone hotlines to report abuse.

The new Conduct and Discipline Units will not conduct investigations, which will be handled by the United Nations’ Office for Internal Oversight Services and other offices.

The new units are part of the ongoing reforms sparked by reports of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, which the United Nations has been pursuing vigorously with investigations, disciplinary measures, training and policy changes since early 2004.

The United Nations has completed investigations against some 186 peacekeeping personnel in its field missions since January 2004.  Seven civilian personnel have been dismissed; two police officers repatriated and 78 military personnel -- including six commanders -- repatriated on disciplinary grounds.

Several troop-contributing countries have confirmed disciplinary and criminal prosecution against repatriated United Nations peacekeeping personnel.

The Conduct and Discipline Units are among the recommended actions proposed by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Advisor on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Peacekeeping Personnel.

The United Nations Security Council in May condemned acts of sexual exploitation by United Nations peacekeeping troops and expressed support for Prince Zeid’s strategies for combating the problem.

In June, the General Assembly approved a wide-ranging package of these recommendations.  In addition to the Conduct and Discipline Units, other measures now in the process of implementation include a policy on victims assistance, intensified mandatory training of peacekeepers, measures to strengthen leadership accountability, improvements in living conditions and welfare for peacekeeping personnel and amendments to legal agreements with troop-contributing countries and contracts with all peacekeeping personnel to include prohibitions on sexual exploitation and abuse.

In approving a $3.2 billion peacekeeping budget for 2005-2006, the General Assembly emphasized the need to develop a comprehensive, well-defined and coherent policy to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse in all United Nations activities.  It also stated that the implementation of zero tolerance towards acts of sexual exploitation and abuse should be clearly defined as a core management function.

The General Assembly is due to take up the issue again during its 60th session, this fall.

For more information, contact Nick Birnback, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, tel.:  +1 917 367 5044, e-mail:  birnback@un.org; or Susan Manuel, Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 212 963 1262, e-mail:  manuels@un.org.

"UN Establishes Peacekeeping Conduct and Discipline Units," United Nations, Press Release PKO/120, 3 August 2005