22 November 2004
Secretary-General Absolutely Outraged by Gross Misconduct by Peacekeeping Personnel in Democratic Republic of Congo
NEW YORK, 19 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), issued today in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania:
I have had a detailed briefing here in Dar es Salaam from my Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, about the investigations which the UN initiated some time ago into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by both civilian and military peacekeeping personnel in the DRC. I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it.
Many of these allegations came to light last spring, and have since been looked into both by MONUC itself and by the Office of Internal Oversight Services. I am glad to say that the allegations concern only a small number of UN personnel. But it is vital that the investigations be speeded up. We cannot rest until we have rooted out all such practices from MONUC, from any other peacekeeping operation, and indeed anywhere in the Organization that they might occur. And we must make sure that those involved are held fully accountable.
I have long made it clear that my attitude to sexual exploitation and abuse is one of zero tolerance, without exception, and I am determined to implement this policy in the most transparent manner. Last July, with this in mind, I asked Prince Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, the Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations -- who is himself also an experienced UN peacekeeper -- to act as my Adviser on this painful issue, and he graciously agreed. I am now actively considering additional measures which need to be taken. In the meantime, I have instructed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to send a special investigation team to the DRC, with the greatest urgency, to examine the outstanding cases.
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