Remarks at the UN Women Executive Board Meeting on Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 15, 2022


The United States believes protection from sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment is a very serious matter. We believe the entire UN system must foster a culture of accountability for staff and leadership; strengthen reporting, oversight, and investigative mechanisms; and apply a survivor-centered approach to combating sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

The United States acknowledges UN Women’s work on sexual abuse and sexual harassment, including almost doubling its sexual abuse and sexual harassment focal points. We would appreciate learning more about the role of the focal points, what UN Women has done to ensure that they are empowered, and the geographical distribution and the rationale for their clustering.

While the United States recognizes and supports the strong efforts by UN Women in tackling both sexual abuse and sexual harassment, we do encourage specific and separate approaches and discussions of each, because the policies deployed in addressing each, I think we all agree, will vary.

The United States welcomes the inclusion of a sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment key performance monitoring indicator within UN Women’s Strategic Plan, a first for the organization. We would appreciate receiving regular updates on this indicator to include progress reviews and acceptance of the indicator across the agency.

We also recognize UN Women’s efforts to increase staff accessibility to updated policies and protocols on preventing sexual abuse and sexual harassment. We’d also welcome more information about plans to ensure partners and communities served by UN Women understand the organization’s sexual abuse and sexual harassment policies and procedures.

To that end, the United States very much appreciates UN Women’s co-leadership and contributions to the Chief Executive Board for Coordination Task Force on Addressing Sexual Harassment within the organizations of the UN System. We support the use of ClearCheck, and we encourage UN Women to continue its leadership within the UN system to identify additional ways to proactively support partners outside the UN system. We look forward to hearing more about these efforts.

The United States welcomes more information on the accountability mechanisms UN Women uses to ensure progress on preventing sexual abuse and harassment is effective and sustained. Additionally, it’s important to us that UN Women share details about what evaluations are planned to measure implementation of policies and procedures and to identify obstacles and areas for improvement.

To close, we would also appreciate hearing more about UN Women’s staff viewpoints on internal sexual abuse and sexual harassment policies and procedures, and the sustained commitment to the implemented recommendations from the independent survivor/victim-centered review. How will UN Women plan to collect staff feedback on these issues? It is important for UN Women to measure and document staff satisfaction, especially in light of recent focal point expansion.

Thank you very much, Madam President.