All forms of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) are a violation of human rights over a vulnerable population that the UN has pledged to protect. Sexual exploitation and abuse can lead to serious consequences for survivors and undermines the integrity and reputation of the UN and the implementing partners with whom we work. The UN is fully committed to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. In this regard, the UN agencies in PNG are committed to working in a coordinated manner to raise the awareness of staff and increase their understanding of PSEA, strengthen their systems on PSEA, improve accountability, and improve coordination and communication among the UN and partners relating to PSEA.
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse is a protection, health, and human rights issue that can be lifethreatening and have a devastating impact on women and children in particular, and families and communities who are recipients of assistance. It is a breach of fundamental human rights and a betrayal of the UNs core values. The sexual exploitation and abuse of those who depend on the United Nations for assistance runs counter to all its personal and organisational values. Despite humanitarian principles and commitments to counter these despicable acts, instances of abuses committed by UN workers have occurred.
Failure to address or respond to sexual exploitation and abuse will result In the failure of the UNs mandate and objectives of the programs being implemented across Papua New Guinea. Many of these programs target vulnerable children and women in an effort to improve gender equality, reduce violence in communities and empower survivors to speak out. Incidents of SEA increase the suffering of an already vulnerable sector of the population. It also undermines the credibility of these programs, staff, agencies and implementing partners which have spent decades building rapport and relationships with local communities.
Furthermore, allegations and cases of SEA also hinder our relationships with Donors who fund UN agencies with trust that our personal deliver programs with the utmost ethical behaviour with beneficiaries. Donors can withdraw funding from programs and agencies where there has been SEA or misconduct by personal. The likelihood of programs pausing or ceasing due to an SEA investigation is high. The abrupt termination of programs which offer life saving food security, shelter or support will further impact communities and recipients of aid.
SEA damages both the image and the credibility and integrity of the UN in the eyes of the host state government of Papua New Guinea and its people. The UN cannot realistically advise the government on adherence to international human rights standards if its own staff are violating international human rights law and staff rules and regulations. The level of mistrust and poor reputation that allegations of SEA creates may take years to rebuild within Papua New Guinea.