FEBRUARY 2019 —
In the Special Measures report on the New Approach, Secretary-General Guterres described his plans to create a Circle of Leadership as “a visible demonstration of our common commitment to end impunity and strengthen measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.” The Circle, as he said in a subsequent statement, was a "means for Heads of State and Government to demonstrate resolve and commitment at the highest political level to stand with us against this scourge."
The Circle of Leadership, according to Mr. Guterres, is a “major element” of the New Approach.
As of January 2019, 72 “sitting and former heads of State/Government are Members of the Circle of Leadership,” according to the UN. The inclusion of former leaders—individuals who currently lack any formal role in national policies—indicates that a portion of the Circle’s members joined or remain part of the group in a personal capacity.
According to the UN, various members of the Circle of Leadership took part in five informal expert meetings between May and August 2018, “to discuss ways to ensure that the political momentum of the Secretary-General’s strategy to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse is sustained and intensified.” No records of or minutes from the meetings have been made publicly available. The five meetings included an unspecified number of Member State representatives whose leaders and former leaders are members of the Circle.
A portion of the Circle’s membership—49 leaders out of 72—signed onto a September 2018 collective statement that reaffirmed their “continued personal commitment as global leaders to support efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse across the United Nations system.” A UN fact sheet on Mr. Guterres’ New Approach, which was distributed in September 2018, described the collective statement as a “key initiative” of the Secretary-General’s new sexual exploitation and abuse policy.
The only other action publicly announced is a Circle of Leadership meeting of undefined scope set for the autumn of 2019.
The distinction between the obligations and commitments of those world leaders who have joined the Circle of Leadership and those who have not has not been defined.