Prevention and Response to Sexual Misconduct

UNEP prevention and response to Sexual Misconduct

UNEP has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
Sexual misconduct is unacceptable behaviour and prohibited for all UNEP personnel. Perpetrators of sexual misconduct will be held to account. UNEP adopts a victim centered approach to sexual misconduct and the respect the inherent dignity of victims/survivors of sexual misconduct is key. We are also committed to ensure that all allegations of sexual harassment and SEA are responded to swiftly, appropriately, and effectively and that confidentiality of all complaints and information received from victims/survivor is maintained throughout the process.

Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA)

This refers to all forms of inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature committed by UN personnel against recipients of assistance and other members of local communities. Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexual activity with a child (a person under the age of 18). A mistaken belief that the child is over 18 is no defense. Even in a country where the age of majority or the age of consent is lower than 18, all UNDP staff and other personnel are forbidden to have sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18.
  • Exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex or sexual favors. This includes any exchange of money, food, employment, goods, assistance, or services for sex or sexual favors.
  • Sexual activity with prostitutes, even when it is legal in the country.
  • Using a child or adult to procure sex for others.

Sexual Harassment (SH)

Is defined as ““any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favour, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, or any other behaviour of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another person.”

It happens between all UNEP personnel and involves acts done away from the workplace. It consist of but is not limited to unwelcome comments, jokes, sexually inappropriate conversation, gestures or actions about the physical appearance or sexual identity of an individual or group, written or any form of electronic communication of a sexual nature, unwanted kissing, touching, grabbing, or rubbing, showing or sending sexually inappropriate materials to colleagues.


Sexual Exploitation and abuse and Sexual Harassment are covered by the following policies:

UNEP response

UNEP requires all staff members to take the mandatory course on United to Respect: Addressing Sexual harassment and other prohibited conduct. Other trainings carried out by UNEP include the United to Respect Dialogues Workshop which includes a component of Sexual Harassment.

UNEP has developed the Statement on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment for UN Personnel and the Statement on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for Implementing Partners.

 UNEP has incorporated into its legal instruments for implementing partner a provision on the protection of sexual exploitation and abuse.

UNEP conducts rigorous pre-employment checks of personnel to prevent the rehiring of known offenders.

All allegations on SEA and SH are investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). UNEP takes administrative and managerial actions regarding sexual harassment on a case-by-case basis.

UNEP does not partner with entities that fail to address sexual exploitation and abuse. Such failures shall constitute grounds for the termination of cooperation agreement with implementing partners.

Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Anyone who has knowledge of an incident of sexual exploitation and abuse should report to:

Sexual harassment should be reported to one of the following:

You can report allegations of sexual misconduct anonymously. *All reports should be made in good faith.

Protection against retaliation/Whistleblowing

According to ST/SGB/2017/2 Protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorized audits or investigations retaliation is any direct or indirect detrimental action recommended, threatened or taken against an individual who officially reported misconduct or otherwise cooperated with duly authorized audits or investigations. If established, retaliation constitutes misconduct which is subject to possible sanction. 

You must submit a request for protection to the Ethics Office within six months after becoming aware of the retaliation.

Reports for retaliation/whistleblowing should be made by anyone who having reported a misconduct or participated in an investigation or audit and believes that s/he has been retaliated against should contact the UN Ethics Office

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