United Nations: India has termed as "abhorrent and repugnant" the incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation perpetrated by UN peacekeepers, as it assured support to UN chief Ban Ki-moon in his efforts to achieve zero tolerance policy against such acts.
"There can be nothing but zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. The aberrations that have taken place are abhorrent and repugnant. This is particularly so given the confidence that has been reposed in blue helmets and in this organisation," India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi said.
Bishnoi was speaking at the meeting of 'Troop Contributing Countries/Police Contributing Countries' regarding UN Secretary General's Zero Tolerance on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse on Thursday. The meeting comes in the wake of more than a dozen allegations of misconduct by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
Bishnoi underscored that India has a policy of zero tolerance and every allegation is investigated and the strictest punishment is meted to the guilty in keeping with the due process of law.
"In our approach, there is no hesitation or reluctance. It would be immoral if there was. We will continue to support the Secretary General in his effort to implement the UN's zero tolerance policy," he said, adding that India looks forward to working with other member states in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34) and other relevant inter governmental bodies.
He added that sexual exploitation and abuse is not something which is limited to peacekeepers. "We need to have in place measures which cover all UN personnel, particularly those in field operations," the Indian diplomat said adding that peacekeeping operations are central to the work of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security.
Ban pointed out that he will naming countries that face "credible allegations" of sexual exploitation and abuse involving their military and police personnel. "As you know, I will include country-specific information in my future reports to the General Assembly concerning the number of credible allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving military and police personnel," he said.
"This will be in addition to the status updates on allegations, which I currently provide. My decision to name specific countries is not designed to create public embarrassment, but to demonstrate transparency and promote accountability. "There is no shame for a Member State that takes decisive action against alleged perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse."
Bishnoi, later talking to reporters at the Indian mission to the UN, said India will be discussing with the UN chief as well as other members states the issue of naming countries whose troops are found to be guilty of sexual abuse.
Ban highlighted specific actions aimed at ending sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel that require "urgent" support from countries that provide troops and police to peacekeeping operations. "Your sons and daughters risk their lives in some of the most troubled parts of the world to protect the vulnerable while advancing the cause of peace," Ban told delegates.
"First, we must work to prevent misconduct even before personnel are on the ground. Pre-deployment education and human rights training must be enhanced. Troops and police must be made fully aware of what constitutes sexual exploitation and abuse, and the importance of upholding the zero-tolerance policy," he said.