In another recent case, Bangladesh investigated allegations in just over three months and found the allegation of sexual activity with a minor to be substantiated for one subject, who was subsequently dismissed from service and received the sanction of one year imprisonment, he said. Mr. Khare added that Bangladesh had said that the action taken against the subject will be shared with all of the Member States’ contingents in UN missions for awareness-raising, and the case will also be incorporated as a case study in the pre-deployment training syllabus. “This will ensure the required feedback loops between accountability and prevention, hopefully, creating a virtuous cycle,” Mr. Khare stressed. Guidance on implementationIn addition, the Under-Secretary-General said that the Secretariat is expediting guidance on its implementation. The guidance will set out factors relevant to the decision to repatriate a military or formed police unit when there is credible evidence of widespread and systemic sexual exploitation and abuse. The guidance will also detail the criteria for determining that a troop-contributing country has not taken appropriate steps to investigate allegations, or that a police or troop-contributing country has not held perpetrators accountable or informed the Secretary-General of the progress of investigations and follow-up actions, he said. In the area of implementation, the Under-Secretary-General said that advancements have been made in prevention through certifications for no prior misconduct before personnel are deployed and for pre-deployment training; and through vetting of all personnel including contingents and formed police units. “We are going forward with shorter investigation times for the UN and Member States, and faster deployment or inclusion of NIOs within contingents; and we have been building stronger and more sustainable collaboration with UN partners on victim assistance in order to have a cohesive and unified programme so that victims are at the centre of the UN’s response to sexual exploitation and abuse,” Mr. Khare said. “In all these efforts, the partnership with Member States has been, and remains instrumental,” he added. Special Coordinator briefs on work undertaken over the past yearAlong those lines, Jane Holl Lute, Special Coordinator on improving the UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, told the General Assembly that a great deal of work had been undertaken over the past year by the leadership in the Organization, as well as by field missions, both within UN peacekeeping operations and across the board in the UN system. “No one has been standing still since the allegations that gave rise to the recent seizure of this issue last year,” she said. “Much has been done.” The Special Coordinator also said that she was on track with objectives to pull together both the findings of the Central African Republic panel and the provisions of Security Council resolution 2272, and with other initiatives that the leadership in the field have taken on board to respond to sexual exploitation and abuse with the aim of “stamping it out.” Actions have included regular conversations both with individual Member States and groups, and consultations with the troop contributing countries about issues particularly related to military to the field, she said. In this respect, she had also taken a trip to the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, she said: “we found very clear commitment by the leadership of both of these missions from the very top to eradicate any instance of sexual exploitation and abuse and to vigorously respond when allegations arise.” Ms. Lute acknowledged that while the tone that had been set was “radiating out into the missions,” there were still “pockets of resistance and pockets of reluctance to take this on personally by each and every member who serves under the UN in the field.” She said that some of the resistance stemmed from still-held views that the “problem of discipline, the problem of comportment is not everyone’s problem,” although she added that the leaderships of both missions were taking steps to correct such attitudes. As an example, she indicated that toolkits and other mechanisms were being put together in the field to clarify the appropriate response. “We can only imagine, if we’ve never had to experience it ourselves – the shame, the horror and the lasting legacy of these unspeakable acts to the most defenceless people on the planet by those in whom they should have the most trust,” she stressed. “We have an agenda before us. We have come to the Member States individually and collectively, and we come to you now. We cannot do this alone. We need your help, and together the Organization can become the standard bearer of best practice in this field,” she concluded. Speaking at an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, emphasized that the priority must be for the Organization to provide victims with support and assistance. “First and foremost, the victims – many of whom are children – need our protection and support,” he said. “The provision of assistance to victims is an area where experience has shown that the United Nations needs additional resources and strong collaboration among peacekeeping, the United Nations and local actors to have a tangible impact.” Trust Fund for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse is operationalMr. Khare noted that the trust fund to support the provision of services to victims is operational, and that Member States have been requested to consider making contributions. He said he has also instructed field missions to respond to the immediate needs of victims using their existing resources. Thanking the Government of Norway for its recent pledge to support the trust fund, the Under-Secretary-General expressed hope that such action would initiate momentum for further funding.Mr. Khare also highlighted that in 2015, the UN had made progress in facilitating paternity and child support claims against peacekeepers. He commended Sri Lanka in particular, which he said has arranged a one-time ex-gratia payment to a victim and child born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse. He noted that there have been best practices in this regard, with Benin, Ecuador, India and Uruguay – four countries not necessarily facing paternity allegations – having informed the Secretariat of focal points designated for this function. Reiterating that there can be no impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse, Mr. Khare stressed that if allegations are substantiated, the Organization “takes all action within its control.” “We have the responsibility to take administrative action and sanction all civilians, including individual consultants and contractors. The authority, though, to sanction or criminally prosecute personnel is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Member States,” he said, adding that the UN continues to work with national authorities to ensure that justice is done. Mr. Khare also said that in the face of allegations, the Secretariat has requested Member States to appoint National Investigation Officers (NIOs) within five days, rather than the ten-day period normally required by the Memorandum of Understanding. He noted that Tanzania and the Republic of Congo are among the Member States that have responded positively to such a request. In addition, he highlighted that Member States such as Morocco have started deploying NIOs as part of their contingents, while South Africa has decided to establish standby NIO teams made up of three people each, and with the capacity to deploy to any mission within 72 hours. “In a recent case, the troop-contributing country in question, Egypt, investigated allegations in 29 days, found the allegation of attempted sexual assault substantiated, conducted a court martial and imposed the sanction of five years’ imprisonment, apart from dismissal from service. This is perhaps the swiftest example of justice being done that we have observed so far,” Mr. Khare said. Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
On August 22, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is due to vote on Section 1504 or “Cardin-Lugar” provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. NGOs such as Oxfam America believe that the provision, signed into law in 2010, could help undo what they see as “the resource curse” in many countries suffering from corruption and mismanagement of mining and oil revenues. The law covers around 90% of internationally operating oil companies and many of the top international mining companies.According to the statutory language, these companies will be required to publicly disclose payments for the extraction of oil, gas and minerals on a country-by-country and project basis as part of financial statements that are already required by the SEC. It will include American companies, foreign companies, such as BP and Shell, as well as companies from emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia.Oxfam America states: “The historic measure will increase transparency in the industry, helping to prevent corrupt government officials from squandering oil and mineral wealth. Instability in resource-rich regions poses a long-term threat to national security, foreign policy and economic interests in the United States and it can crimp world petroleum supplies by breeding instability. On the other side of the money ‘pipeline’, it would provide information to investors who are often kept in the dark about whether companies are exposed to political and expropriation risks in volatile resource-rich countries.”The provision would not only include payments to foreign governments but also require companies reporting payments in the United States from mining and oil production on Federal lands and offshore oil and gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf. Oxfam America states: “One of the reasons for the financial crisis was a lack of public information about the real risks of investments. In the case of the oil and mining industries, investors need to know how and whether companies are exposed to political and expropriation risks in volatile resource-rich countries. In some places, companies can make up front payments of over a billion dollars before a drop of oil is produced and this information is not disclosed to investors. This disclosure provision – in addition to providing useful information to citizens in resource-rich countries also provides valuable information to investors on how to assess risk. This is part of the SEC’s core mandate.”As a display of investor interest, investors representing more than $1.2 trillion in assets under management, have called on the SEC to implement strong rules for this provision. These firms, and those who have assets with them, would want to know that their money is not supporting corruption and social, environment and human rights problems overseas. Moves is this direction are not restricted to the US. In October, 2011, the European Commission proposed Revisions to the Transparency and Accounting Directives, a draft European Union law that would mirror Section 1504 but go further by requiring both public and private companies to disclose their payments to governments in countries where they do business.Oxfam America concludes: “With the US law covering the vast majority of internationally operating oil companies and the world’s largest mining companies, and European rules covering even more companies, the transparency net will be cast far and wide. Citizens of resource-rich countries will be able to arm themselves with information they can use to track the amount of money governments receive from oil and mining companies. Through SEC action, the United States will be well-positioned to influence the European Commission’s proposal. However, delayed action by the SEC and the oil industry actively lobbying in Europe, the EC proposals could be watered down, which could also then influence the final rule in the US.”Some companies, including Talisman Energy, Statoil, AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Mining, already disclose payments in every country of operation and in some cases they volunteer this information at a project level. NGOs like Oxfam American argue that if it was truly hurting their bottom lines, they simply wouldn’t be doing it.