Mark Lowcock Boureima Hama/Getty Images

Ending Sexual Harassment and Abuse at the UN

For too long, nongovernmental organizations, global-governance institutions such as the United Nations, and others in the international community have failed to eliminate the culture of impunity surrounding sexual abuse and harassment. But that is now changing as the UN steps up its efforts to prevent and punish violations at all levels.

GENEVA – Around the world, brave women (and some men) have been breaking the silence surrounding sexual harassment and abuse committed by those in positions of power. Their courage is paving the way for others to speak out about their own experiences.

Unfortunately, the experiences victims are describing have included sexual exploitation by staff of the United Nations. But it is not the responsibility of survivors to prevent abuse. That responsibility belongs to all UN staff members and leaders.

It is time to eradicate the culture of impunity that has prevailed for far too long within the international community. The priority should not be to protect those in power, but to ensure that survivors receive justice and the support to which they are entitled.

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