As you know, more serious allegations have been raised about the conduct of United Nations troops in the Central African Republic. I cannot put into words how anguished, angered and ashamed I am by recurrent reports over the years of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN forces.
When the United Nations deploys peacekeepers, we do so to protect the world’s most vulnerable people in the world’s most desperate places.
I will not tolerate any action that causes people to replace trust with fear.
Those who work for the United Nations must uphold our highest ideals. Yet the outrageous and indecent actions of a few people tarnishes the heroic work of tens of thousands of UN peacekeepers and personnel.
Every allegation must be thoroughly investigated.
As you know, I have appointed a high-level external independent panel to look into, more closely into the reports of sexual exploitation and abuse in the Central African Republic and our systemic response. I look forward to receiving their findings soon.
I believe the disturbing number of allegations we have seen in many countries -- but particularly in the Central African Republic in the period before UN peacekeepers were deployed and since -- speaks to the need to take action now.
Enough is enough.
Today I have accepted the resignation of my Special Representative Mr. Babacar Gaye, Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA.
As I do so, I want to pay tribute to General Gaye’s tireless efforts in support of peace, security and reconciliation over the course of a long and distinguished career – most recently, in the Central African Republic under extremely challenging circumstances and throughout an unprecedented crisis.
I want to be clear that this problem goes far beyond one mission or one conflict or one person.
Sexual exploitation and abuse is a global scourge and a systemic challenge that demands a systemic response.
I have informed the President of the Security Council and have requested a special session of the Security Council which will take place tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I will also convene a video conference with my Special Representatives, Force Commanders and Police Commissioners in all peacekeeping operations to underscore their responsibility. I will reiterate that leaders must report allegations immediately, investigate thoroughly and act decisively. Failure to do so will have clear consequences.
I will continue to press to do more.
I want leaders to know that they are accountable for their troops, police and civilians. They must also ensure that all receive continuous human rights education and training.
I want Member States to know that I cannot do this alone. They have the ultimate responsibility to hold individual uniformed personnel to account and they must take decisive preventive and punitive action.
I want perpetrators to know that if they commit a crime, we will do everything possible to pursue them and bring them to justice.
I want victims to know that we will strive to uphold our institutional responsibility to safeguard their security and dignity.
To victims, I say we stand with you. Please come forward. Please feel safe in knowing that we will do all we can to respond to these outrageous crimes. You should not feel shame. Shame belongs to the perpetrators.
In addition to physical pain and trauma, victims of sexual violence suffer another grave injury if there is impunity.
Part of healing is denouncing crimes and punishing perpetrators.
Women and children should not be victimized twice by a lack of justice.
Today and every day, my message is clear: Sexual exploitation and abuse of power have no place – least of all in the United Nations which stands for the rights of the world’s women and children.