Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
January 31, 2022
Thank you for having me. This issue is a high priority to the United States and to me personally, so it’s fitting that this is also my first time speaking to a UN group in my new role. We thank UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS for your shared and ongoing commitment to protection from sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment. We acknowledge both the progress made and the need to do much more.
The U.S. takes matters of sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment very seriously and is committed to supporting the UN system’s zero-tolerance policy. This includes holding ourselves and our partners to the highest standards of behavior related to SEAH.
Both member states and the UN have a responsibility to strengthen policies that protect UN staff and the communities we serve, develop strategies to address underreporting, and ensure effective review of allegations including through safe, appropriate, and survivor-centered investigations.
The United States strongly supports the expanded application of ClearCheck to prevent the rehiring of SEAH perpetrators. We are pleased to learn that UNDP has begun screening broader categories of staff through the database. We encourage all three agencies to explore the use of ClearCheck for their implementing partners to ensure more comprehensive screening in the humanitarian and development sector.
The United States would like to applaud the great work done by UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, as the 2021 IASC Champion. We look forward to working with UNFPA to make additional progress, including through the effective prioritization of this issue in the implementation of the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan.
The United States is encouraged by UNOPS’ intention to integrate SEAH prevention into its project design, implementation, and site inspections, thereby extending these efforts to contractors and community workers. We also support UNOPS’ incorporation of protection from SEAH into its financial planning and contractual agreements with private sector partners.
We are all responsible for going beyond just awareness-raising, codes of conduct, and training. That’s why the U.S. looks forward to seeing meaningful progress in addressing underlying
drivers of sexual exploitation and abuse – including gender inequality and discrimination, abuse of power, and other conditions that enable gender-based violence.