Mordaunt threatens to stop UN funding unless it reforms

21 Feb 18

The UK will withhold funding from the United Nations if it does not take action amid accusations of employee sexual misconduct, the secretary for international development has warned.

Penny Mordaunt issued the warning following allegations that UN staff and peacekeeping troops have been involved in rapes and other sexual abuse cases in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, as well as other disaster zones.

Oxfam, which is in the midst of the aid scandal, agreed this week to stop bidding for government money until it has reformed, following claims of sexual allegations by senior aid workers in Haiti where a number of staff were sacked and resigned.

Penny Mordaunt said: “We should not wait for the UN to take action. We must set up our own systems now.

“The message from us to all parts of the UN is clear – you can either get your house in order, or you can prepare to carry out your good work without our money.”

She added that the UK “is not waiting for others to act” and would be “taking a lead on this”.

The UK is the fifth largest contributor to the agency and paid 4.5% of the UN’s budget of almost £180m from 2016 to this year.

Mordaunt said the UN’s announcement that it would not claim immunity for sexual abuse cases was welcomed, but governments should continue to hold the UN to account.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres admitted that there were 80 reports of abuse in 2016 carried out by UN staff and 65 relating to civilian staff.

Guterres said last week the UN would do more to “change this culture”.

A report in The Times revealed earlier this month that Oxfam aid workers in Haiti had resigned and been sacked following incidents of sexual exploitation, bullying and intimidation, which were not reported to the Charity Commission or the UK government.

The Times report found the charity has covered up the use of prostitutes by senior aid workers.

The UK's international development secretary said the government reserves the right to take whatever decisions about present or future funding to Oxfam, and other organisations, it deems necessary.

Mordaunt added that the government would not work with any organisations that do not live up to the government’s standards on safeguarding and protection.

PF International reported in January last year president Donald Trump had drafted two executive orders to reduce voluntary contributions to international bodies by 40%, including to the UN.

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