Visit of The Under-Secretary-General (USG), Mr. Christian Saunders, Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), to the UN Base in Entebbe, Uganda
On August 3, 2023, the Under-Secretary-General (USG), Mr. Christian Saunders, Special Coordinator on improving the United Nations’ response to sexual exploitation and abuse, visited the UN Base in Entebbe, Uganda.
The Officer in Charge of the Regional Service Centre, Mr. Emmanuel Ngor, welcomed and briefed USG Saunders about the RSCE Operations and the role it plays in supporting peace in Africa, which was one of the reasons the Director of the Centre, Mr. Paulin Djomo was away on an official business trip to Mali to support the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) as it is in the process of closure.
USG Saunders also met with the United Nations Entebbe Base’s personnel in a town hall where he shared insights about his role in ensuring that sexual exploitation and abuse incidents are prevented with a zero-tolerance policy, perpetrators are penalised to the fullest, and victims supported 100 per cent.
In his speech, USG Saunders pointed out how the SEA is a very sensitive topic and has been at Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres's heart since he assumed office in 2017.
He further mentioned that SEA has existed for 1000s of years and is thus an absurd endemic to the world. The UN is dedicated to finding a solution to this as it is not just the UN Peace Keeping issue but the responsibility of everyone, given statistics on how it is higher among civilians than Uniformed Personnel.
The strategy of the UN encompasses four (4) major points.
- To help fight against SEA and minimise it.
- Support the victims 100 per cent and have the perpetrators punished for their actions.
- Work together with Civil Societies and organisations to find mitigation measures.
- Good communication about the subject, translating the policies and procedures into the language and tone that people easily understand.
USG Saunders further explained that SEA had been brought about by several underlying issues, including a lack of equality between men and women and a failure to have women in decision-making roles. He pointed out that 98 per cent of perpetrators of SEA cases are always men and urged men to speak up against it.
“If you know something or hear something, say something’’ USG Saunders said, emphasising that fighting SEA and Sexual harassment in the United Nations is everyone’s responsibility as its effects are adverse on humanity and society at large.
Staff suggested ways in which they think the UN could help mitigate the situation, which included revising policies and procedures for deployment and employment, training, and accountability of all through regular surveys in all sectors of the Organization, emphasising that efforts to eliminate SEA are not about just image protection but rather human dignity and value.
Mr. Emmanuel Ngor appreciated the USG Saunders’ visit and pledged that RSCE would collaborate with his office to see that SEA is fought against both at the Centre and in its client missions. “Together, we embark on a journey of peace operations, not exploitation, to positively impact the communities we serve, our nations, and the world. The tasks are complex, but with USG Saunders’ guidance and leadership, we are confident in our ability to overcome any obstacle.” Mr. Ngor added.