Gill Mathurin: +1 646-924-1710 (EST);

Put Victims First: Time for UK Leadership at the UN

November 24, 2015 – On November 20th, the Security Council held a briefing on the review of United Nations peacekeeping operations. A number of governments made reference to sexual exploitation and abuse of civilians by peacekeepers. AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue campaign welcomes the attention paid to this vexing and painful issue. 

By fortunate coincidence, the United Kingdom occupies the rotating post of president of the Security Council this month. The UK has claimed global leadership on the issue of sexual violence in conflict. It now has a unique chance to show that this leadership is more than rhetorical. There is an important initiative that could and must be taken by November 30th.

Incredibly enough, in the Central African Republic (CAR)—which, as UN Member States know, has been at the heart of the sexual exploitation and abuse controversy this year—there is a significant surplus in the UN peacekeeping budget. According to a Final performance report of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, past-budgeted money that went unspent in CAR and Chad amounts to nearly $34 million. The Secretary-General of the UN recommends that it be returned to Member States.

With great respect, his recommendation is misplaced. The Secretary-General has the opportunity—and it’s an opportunity not to be missed—to direct that money into the proposed trust fund for victims, a fund that he himself has strongly espoused. In all the litany of debate around sexual exploitation and abuse, victims are forever invoked, with obligatory sadness, and then ignored. Here, finally, something concrete can be done. It lies with the UK to produce a Presidential Statement that puts the victims at the center of international concern.


AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization devoted to exposing and addressing injustice, abuse, and inequality. We apply high-level advocacy, targeted legal strategies, and creative communication to work for a more just world. We launched the Code Blue campaign to end impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel.

(Photo: UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)