Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
January 30, 2023
The United States welcomes these updates from UNFPA, UNDP, and UNOPS on the critical issue of protection from sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment (SEAH).
Last October, the U.S. established principles that inform and guide our government’s engagement with the United Nations and other international organizations on the prevention and response to incidents of SEAH. These principles, and their operationalization within our government, reflect our commitment to increase U.S. engagement in a clear and consistent manner on sexual misconduct issues. These principles also make clear that the U.S. has zero tolerance for the acts of SEAH themselves as well as inaction in response to them.
We therefore welcome today’s emphasis on metrics to enhance transparency and accountability measures. These metrics are essential for building a system that supports victims, analyzing key trends and patterns, and providing a more comprehensive understanding of problems that persist. Strong metrics and data are thus critical for maintaining the credibility of the UN system.
With respect to UNDP, the U.S. welcomes the introduction of two new indicators to measure the presence of country office action plans and prevention and response systems. We urge UNDP to develop additional indicators to measure implementation of the plans and systems to gauge their quality and effectiveness.
With respect to UNFPA, we applaud the internal review of its implementation of the United Nations Protocol on Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Involving Implementing Partners. In 2022, UNFPA reports that 81 percent of its implementing partners underwent an assessment. We would like to understand better the barriers to assessing all implementing partners, and what risk mitigation measures and support have been put in place for partners who have not been assessed or who do not meet minimum standards.
With respect to UNOPS, the U.S. is pleased that a full-time SEAH coordinator has been recruited and additional staff are being hired in 2023. We note that compared to its peer agencies, UNOPS has relatively few metrics in place, although we appreciate the new metrics that are being implemented. With the addition of dedicated staff, we expect that UNOPS will re-examine its strategic framework and internal systems to determine where additional progress metrics are needed.
For all agencies, we would like to know more about what measures your agency has taken to ensure SEAH perpetrators are not hired or rehired in the UN system, including through the “ClearCheck” database. We also are interested in understanding how you ensure that your implementing partners take appropriate action when sexual misconduct is reported, including through timely investigations and a survivor-centered approach, and what metrics you are using to track your implementing partners’ progress.
We acknowledge that this is an interim update, and we look forward to the update at the 2023 Annual Session on each agency’s action plan, progress, and targets. Thank you.