|UNITED NATIONS, Mar. 16, 2018 -- The number of allegations of sexual misconduct committed by personnel serving with the United Nations dropped last year, according to a UN report on implementing a zero-tolerance policy for this crime.
Jane Holl Lute, special coordinator on improving UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, outlined some of the report's main messages during a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
Data from 2017 indicates a "downward trend" in the number of allegations reported, down from 165 in 2016 to 138.
However, she said allegations emanating from other UN entities and their implementing partners increased over the same period: from 42 to 75.
At the same time, there was "a sharp decline" in allegations involving non-UN forces, from 18 in 2016 to one in 2017.
Lute reminded journalists of measures the UN has implemented over the past year since Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a system-wide strategy to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
The initiatives focus on areas such as putting victims first, ending impunity and increasing partnerships.
They include the appointment of a Victims' Rights Advocate, responding rapidly to allegations and ensuring that UN staff understand their responsibilities and obligations to prevent and report incidents.
"On ending impunity, the Secretary-General has strengthened mandatory reporting through the development of a uniform incident reporting form," Lute said.
"We have strengthened investigations in cooperation with Member States. We have encouraged Member States to promptly appoint and deploy national investigation officers where allegations have been reported, and we continue to support the capacity building and training of national investigative officers," Lute said.
Lute added that a trust fund to support victims has seen a three-fold increase in contributions, and she encouraged countries to "maintain this positive momentum."
The trust fund was established in March 2016. As of December 2017, it stood at 1.89 million U.S. dollars in commitments and/or contributions.
Additionally, grants have been made available or approved to support victims through projects, services and training in three countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Liberia.