The UK Government has acknowledged the role played by UNA-UK in securing the most transparent recruitment process for the UN Secretary-General in the Organisation’s history.
In the Government’s official response to a report by the House of Lords International Relations Committee on the Priorities for the next Secretary-General, the UK singled out UNA-UK, acknowledging that “civil society played an important role, notably the 1 for 7 Billion campaign led by UNA-UK and others”.
UNA-UK broadly welcomes the Government’s response, and in particular the commitment to build on the advances achieved in recruitment processes and to promote reforms that will strengthen UN peacekeeping.
However, given this commitment and considering that one of the greatest challenges to the UN’s credibility is allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse perpetrated by peacekeepers, it is surprising to note the lack of UK Government support for a modest recommendation contained in the report, which called on the UK to support the Secretary-General in convening a group of experts to consider the feasibility of an international instrument to hold peacekeepers accountable for sexual abuse.
The Government’s response was discussed by peers at a wide-ranging discussion on the UK-UN relationship in the House of Lords on 26 January. During the well-attended debate, peers from across the political spectrum spoke of the need to preserve the United Nations in the face of multiple uncertainties and threats to the international system, with many urging the Prime Minister to make the case for the UN to the United States amid speculation that US support for some parts of the Organisation may be withdrawn.
During the run-up to the debate, UNA-UK released a briefing on the UK’s role at the United Nations to assist peers in preparing for the debate.