Government responds to Conservatives' concerns about child abuse within the United Nations system

April 17, 2018

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has tabled a response to Australian Conservatives leader and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi’s questions in Senate Estimates about the scandals plaguing the foreign aid system and the United Nations.

In her response, Minister Bishop says that in March she and Minister Fierrevanti-Wells wrote – after Senator Bernardi’s questions about the United Nations – to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, demanding action to protect aid recipients, staff and volunteers from sexual exploitation across the UN system.

Senator Bernardi had asked in February:

“Australia has contributed considerable amounts to UNICEF Australia.

On 13 February UNICEF Netherlands admitted its shortcomings in its humanitarian support to children who allege they were raped and sexually abused by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

Furthermore, the same former chief executive of Save the Children mentioned earlier was until recently the deputy executive director of UNICEF.

Will the government also freeze funding and decline to fund UNICEF instrumentalities in future until satisfied that they, too, have adequate management practices in place to prevent misappropriation of funds, sexual harassment, and transparency regarding & prevention of sexual misconduct in future?”

The Australian Conservatives have welcomed the government's response to Senator Bernardi’s question, with the Senator also saying “We also welcome the Australian Government suspending foreign aid to Oxfam Great Britain on the same day we asked questions about the Haitian sex abuse scandal involving that organisation.

It is good to see the Australian government ensuring that where it gives aid, it is not misappropriated and – in particular – that we do everything in our power to protect women and the vulnerable from depraved exploitation.”

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