Refugees International (RI) applauds U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ appointment of Jane Connors as the organization’s first-ever Victims’ Rights Advocate. The appointment is a significant step forward in the UN’s renewed commitment to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in its peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. According to the Secretary General, Ms. Connors will be responsible for “an integrated, strategic response to victim assistance in coordination with United Nations system actors with responsibility for assisting (SEA) victims.”
Sexual exploitation and abuse of conflict and disaster-affected populations by individuals sworn to protect them is unconscionable and erodes the humanitarian compact between the United Nations and the people it serves. RI looks forward to collaborating with Ms. Connors to ensure SEA survivor access to specialized services and to their rights. Through its field research and advocacy, RI promotes survivor-centered approaches to assisting SEA survivors and looks forward to working with the new Victims’ Rights Advocate toward that goal.