Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday joined activists, academics and other world leaders in expressing support for the UN’s zero-tolerance policy toward sexual exploitation and abuse.
Media reports recently said the UN has launched an investigation against a Canadian peacekeeper who allegedly sexually assaulted a Haitian woman in 2013.
The reports prompted Secretary-General António Guterres to issue a statement on Tuesday reiterating the UN’s zero-tolerance policy against exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.
The UN also uploaded videos of world leaders, activists and academics expressing support for the policy on its website.
Mr Hun Sen said in his video posted on the UN website that Cambodia is a member of the UN’s Circle of Leadership and it is obligated to voice support for Mr Guterres’ statement.
“As a member of the Circle of Leadership, the Cambodian government is commited to strongly support and implement the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peacekeeping operations, as well as joining with member states of the CoL to collectively unite to prevent such acts,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“Peacekeepers must be accountable to the people they serve,” he added. “Cambodian blue helmets who are currently serving in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Cyprus, Lebanon and Mali have strictly adhered to the said policy with high responsibility, dignity and morality, as well as strict discipline.”
Achim Steiner, an administrator with the United Nations Development Programme, yesterday said in his video that sexual exploitation and abuse have no place in the UN.
“I recognise the unique responsibility of the United Nations to act as a standard barrier in preventing and responding to – and eradicating – this behaviour whenever and wherever it occurs,” Mr Steiner said.
He noted that sexual exploitation and abuse harm individuals that the UN is mandated to serve and protect.
“At the UN development programme, we are working every day to preventing [abuse and exploitation] in our workplace, including [in] the 170 countries where we work every day,” Mr Steiner said. “I reaffirm my personal commitment to ensure zero-tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse and I call on everyone to join us.”
Jane Connors of the UN’s Victims’ Rights Advocate said in her video message that she stands along with victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.
“It is sharing the responsibility of member states of the United Nations to address these concerns so that victims can rebuild their lives,” Ms Connors said.
The Kingdom has sent off more than 6,300 peacekeepers in conflicts around the world over the last 13 years.
In January 2019, the UN ranked Cambodia 29th out of 122 troop-contributing countries, and second among Asean countries for the most female peacekeepers.