UN probes ‘abhorrent’ video showing ‘likely’ field staffers engaging in alleged sexual misconduct
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, issued a statement to reporters in New York on Friday afternoon, confirming that the short video clip which runs less than half a minute, featured a 4×4 vehicle, containing personnel “likely assigned to the UN Truce Supervision Organization”, or UNTSO.
The mission was the first ever peacekeeping mission established by the UN in 1948, comprising Military Observers to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements and prevent military escalation. UNTSO is headquartered in Jerusalem.
It has 153 Military Observers, 91 international civilian personnel and 153 national staff, according to UN figures, drawing troops from more than two dozen countries. Observers are deployed to UN missions at the border between Israel and Lebanon, as well as in the Golan.
According to news reports, the video, shot at night, was taken on HaYarkon Street, a major thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, but shot by an anonymous source, its provenance and authenticity has not been confirmed.
Behaviour ‘against everything that we stand for’
“We are shocked and deeply disturbed by what is seen on the video”, said Mr. Dujarric. “The behaviour seen in it is abhorrent and goes against everything that we stand for and having been working to achieve in terms of fighting misconduct by UN staff”, he added, speaking at the regular noon briefing to UN correspondents.
“We became aware of the video a little bit more than two days ago and our colleagues in the Office of Internal Oversight Services, OIOS, were immediately activated. Their investigation I know is moving very quickly. We know the location of the incident with the identification of individuals in the video, who are likely assigned to the UNTSO, is close to being completed.”
The Spokesperson said the probe by OIOS was expected to end “very quickly” and that “prompt appropriate action” would be taken.
UNTSO also issued a statement adding that the Mission stands committed to the UN’s zero-tolerance policy against any kind of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, and reminds its personnel of their obligations to the UN Code of Conduct.
“As part of the UN’s commitment to transparency, the UN will provide updates on the conclusion of the investigation, and any further action”, said Mr. Dujarric.