Why the UN Needs Accountability: Recent Sexual Abuse Cases

Recent revelations on sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment within the UN and related international aid organizations underscore the need for accountability. Following are several news reports from the past year.


Sexual harassment and assault rife at United Nations, staff claim (Guardian, Jan. 18, 2018)
Exclusive: Guardian investigation points to culture of impunity as UN employees allege offences including rape

The United Nations has allowed sexual harassment and assault to flourish in its offices around the world, with accusers ignored and perpetrators free to act with impunity, the Guardian has been told.
Dozens of current and former UN employees described a culture of silence across the organisation and a flawed grievance system that is stacked against victims.
Of the employees interviewed, 15 said they had experienced or reported sexual harassment or assault within the past five years. The alleged offences ranged from verbal harassment to rape.
Seven of the women had formally reported what happened, a route that campaigners say is rarely pursued by victims for fear of losing their job, or in the belief that no action will be taken.
“If you report it, your career is pretty much over, especially if you’re a consultant,” said one consultant, who alleged she was harassed by her supervisor while working for the World Food Programme. “It’s like an unsaid thing.  More

UN report on sexual exploitation and abuse – 1st Quarter of 2018

  • For the first three months of this year, from 1 January to 31 March 2018, we have received 54 allegations for all UN entities and implementing partners. Not all allegations have been fully verified, and many are in the preliminary assessment phase.
  • Out of the 54 allegations, 14 are reported from peacekeeping operations and 18 from agencies, funds and programmes. 21 allegations relate to implementing partners and 1 to a member of a non-UN international force.
  • Of the 54 allegations, 17 are categorized as sexual abuse, 34 as sexual exploitation, and 3 are of an unknown nature.
  • The allegations involve 66 victims – including 13 girls (under the age of 18) and 16 victims whose age remains unknown.
  • With regard to the status of the allegations, 2 have been substantiated by an investigation; 2 were not substantiated; 21 are at various stages of investigation; 27 are under preliminary assessment; and 1 investigation’s result is under review.


Specific Cases

  • Save the Children
      • See above under UNICEF, Justin Forsyth.


UN Watch