Policy on accountability

In August 2015, the Policy on Accountability for Conduct and Discipline in Field Missions was issued. The Policy, which is applied by the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, the Department of Peace Operations and the Department for Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, details the roles and responsibilities in field missions and at Headquarters for addressing misconduct and explains how accountability is to be achieved when personnel fail to observe the UN standards of conduct. The Policy also highlights the responsibilities of Heads of Mission and senior managers and commanders in this regard


Reporting misconduct

It is the duty of all United Nations personnel, whether they are civilian, military and police, to report misconduct to the officials whose responsibility it is to take appropriate action. Any UN personnel who fail to comply with this obligation may be considered as having engaged in misconduct themselves.


Uniformed personnel

When allegations of serious misconduct involving military and police personnel are substantiated, the UN may repatriate the individuals concerned on disciplinary grounds and ban them from future participation in peacekeeping operations. Disciplinary sanctions and any other judicial actions, which may include criminal accountability or civil accountability related to child support, remain the responsibility of the national jurisdiction of the individual involved. Troop- and police contributing countries are required to inform the UN of what actions have been taken in cases involving their uniformed personnel.

The 2015 report of the Secretary-General on Special measures for the protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (A/70/729) included, for the first time, information on the nationality of military and police personnel implicated in credible allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. This information is also available on this website.

Since July 2015, payments to uniformed personnel alleged to have been involved in sexual exploitation and abuse are suspended until the investigation is completed or until the individual is repatriated from the mission. Suspended payments are withheld in cases that have been substantiated through an investigation, and transferred to the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. In unsubstantiated cases, the suspended payments are released and paid in full.

The Secretary-General has requested Member States to establish on-site court martial proceedings for allegations which amount to sex crimes under national legislation in the case of military contingents. Member States have also been urged to agree to obtain DNA samples of members of their uniformed personnel who are alleged to have committed sexual exploitation and abuse to facilitate investigations and strengthen accountability.


Civilian personnel

When allegations of misconduct involving civilian personnel have been investigated and the allegations are substantiated, a decision concerning disciplinary measures is taken by the Office of Human Resources (OHR) in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance. Matters involving United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) are referred for action by the UNV Disciplinary Panel. Depending on the nature of the misconduct, action against civilian personnel can range from a reprimand to dismissal, and may include a fine or another type of financial accountability.


Criminal accountability

In December 2007, the General Assembly adopted the resolution on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on missions (A/RES/62/63) to address the extension of national jurisdiction by Member States to cover criminal misconduct of UN officials or experts on mission. The General Assembly encouraged Member States to cooperate with each other and with the UN in the exchange of information, facilitation of investigations and, as appropriate, the prosecution of the relevant persons.

In order to ensure that UN officials and experts on mission are accountable for actions that amount to criminal conduct, the UN, through the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), refers such cases to the country of nationality of the alleged perpetrator for investigation of possible criminal conduct and, subsequently, possible prosecution. Member States are requested to keep OLA informed of what actions they have taken in response to such referrals. 

In addition, to promote criminal accountability, the Secretary-General has requested Member States to assess existing national legislation to determine applicability to sex crimes committed by nationals while in service with the UN and, if necessary, to assess whether new legislative action is required, including allowing nationality-based extraterritorial jurisdiction.