FEBRUARY 2019 —
The Voluntary Compact between Member States and the UN is “intended to send a signal to the world of joint commitment and mutual accountability on the part of the United Nations and Member States on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse,” according to the UN.
The Voluntary Compact was one of four initiatives of the New Approach that Secretary-General António Guterres sought to highlight in his speech before the High-Level Meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in September 2017, an indication of the significance of the Voluntary Compact to the UN’s sexual exploitation and abuse policy.
According to the language of the sample or template Voluntary Compact prepared by the UN, signatory Member States can voluntarily reaffirm their intentions to uphold legal obligations to "work actively to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and, should such acts occur, demand accountability from our leaders, managers, and commanders, and any individual who violates our fundamental values.”
Although each signatory Member State can alter the language of the sample Voluntary Compact, it is not known whether this option has been exercised in practice; copies of the Member States’ signed agreements are not publicly available.
As of January 2019, 100 Member States had signed individual, possibly modified copies of the Voluntary Compact with the UN. Other than signing, the UN has made no announcement of any other activities or actions by Voluntary Compact members.
The Voluntary Compact is "a demonstration of the political will to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, demand accountability and provide meaningful support to victims," according to the UN.
To date, the Secretary-General has not detailed the defining characteristics or responsibilities that distinguish the countries that have signed the Voluntary Compact from those that have not. Further, there is no publicly available explanation of what the Voluntary Compact obligates Member States to do.