The United Nations, non-governmental organizations and inter-governmental organizations are committed to providing assistance to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel, as agreed in the Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and Non-UN Personnel (2006). This commitment is reinforced by the General Assembly resolution on the UN Comprehensive Strategy on Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Staff and Related Personnel (2007). The resolution calls for the establishment of a Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Victim Assistance Mechanism (SEA/VAM) in every country in which the UN operates. The UN and NGOs have worked together through an inter-agency task force to formulate a joint approach to victim assistance.
The objective of the SEA/VAM is to help persons victimized by sexual exploitation and abuse to access the services they need as a result of these acts. This does not replace or negate the responsibility of perpetrators of acts of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. The provision of assistance is not an acknowledgment of the validity of the claims, a form of compensation or an indication of acceptance of responsibility by the alleged perpetrator.
Each country develops its own SEA/VAM, adapted to the national context, to assist complainants and victims. The mechanism will serve all complainants and victims of SEA by UN staff and related personnel, so that assistance and support remain consistent regardless of the agency, department or organization associated with the incident. ‘Related personnel’ includes consultants, volunteers, individual contractors, personnel of partner organizations, experts on mission and peacekeepers, including both civilian and uniformed personnel.
Who should receive assistance and support?
Assistance and support should be provided to complainants, victims and children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Complainants are persons who allege or are alleged to have been sexually exploited or abused by UN staff or related personnel before such allegations have been substantiated or dismissed through a UN administrative or a governmental judicial process. To receive assistance as a complainant, the allegation should be officially registered in accordance with the procedures of the relevant organization.
Victims are persons whose claims that they have been sexually exploited or abused have been substantiated through a UN administrative process or a governmental judicial process. These include all such persons, irrespective of age or gender. Children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuseare children who are found by a court of law in any country with jurisdiction to have been born as a result of sexual exploitation or abuse by staff or related personnel.
What assistance and support should be provided?
Peacekeeping missions provide assistance and support to victims as laid out by the General Assembly resolution on the UN Comprehensive Strategy on Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Staff and Related Personnel (2007). Support includes access to in-country service providers, such as medical and psychological care, as well as legal support for the pursuit of paternity and child support claims
The SEA/VAMs provide medical, legal, psychosocial and immediate material care as well as the facilitation of the pursuit of paternity and child support claims. Assistance and support is to be offered based on individual needs directly arising from sexual exploitation or abuse. Direct financial assistance/ compensation should not be provided under the SEA/VAM.
Basic assistance (that which cannot await the substantiation of claims) and support should be provided to complainants. They should be helped to access psychological counseling and to find shelter, clothing or food where the sexual exploitation or sexual abuse impedes them from using their own, and provided with protection if their security is at risk. Complainants should also be assisted to understand how to pursue claims, both administrative and legal, against the alleged perpetrators.
Once a victim’s claim has been substantiated, s/he can receive additional help known as expanded assistance and support. Victims should receive assistance to address the broad range of consequences of the sexual exploitation or abuse. The strategy recommends that the UN work with Member States to facilitate, within their competence, the pursuit of paternity claims and child support. This should be undertaken in conjunction with the relevant national governments and may include the coordination of DNA testing. Children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse should be entitled under SEA/VAMs to receive medical, legal and psychosocial care to meet their needs directly arising from the sexual exploitation or abuse.