Combatting sexual exploitation and abuse
All UNDP staff and other personnel must adhere to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct at all times. As with the rest of the UN system, UNDP has a zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse.
If you work for UNDP:
- It is strictly prohibited to have sexual activity with a child (a person under the age of 18). A mistaken belief that the child is over 18 is no defence. 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.
- It is strictly prohibited to exchange money, food, employment, goods, assistance, or services for sex or sexual favours.
- It is strictly prohibited to have sex with prostitutes, even when it is legal in the country
- It is also strictly prohibited to use a child or adult to procure sex for others.
Acting on misconduct
UNDP investigates all allegations of misconduct by its personnel.If an allegation is substantiated, UNDP will vigorously pursue disciplinary or other action against the perpetrator.
UNDP action to address sexual exploitation and abuse
The Secretary General’s bulletin on sexual exploitation and abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) applies to all personnel of the United Nations, including those working for UNDP and other separately administered organs and programmes of the United Nations. UNDP adheres to this policy. Information on sexual exploitation and abuse is also included in the UNDP Code of Ethics.
UNDP’s recruitment policy states clearly that staff members who have been found to have violated human rights or sexual exploitation and abuse provisions shall not be employed by the organization. In addition, UNDP is participating in a joint project with other UN agencies to create a system-wide database to ensure that former staff members involved in substantiated cases of sexual exploitation and abuse with one entity in the system cannot be employed by another entity in the UN system.
The Secretary General’s Bulletin (ST/SGB/2003/13) is part of Individual Contracts and Service Contracts. All individual contractors and service contract holders must formally confirm that they understand what is outlined in this bulletin. These provisions are also reflected in the Staff Regulations and Rules and staff must acknowledge these obligations before commencing a new role. In addition, partners of UNDP must comply with the "United Nations Protocol on Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Involving Implementing Partners".
Training and Awareness Raising
UNDP has developed an on-line training course on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, in collaboration with other UN agencies. The course stresses the standards of conduct expected of all personnel, the consequences of breaching them, and the devastating impact of sexual exploitation and abuse on those affected and their families. For UNDP personnel who do not have access to UNDP's Talent Development Centre, you may access this course, or the inter-agency developed course on Sexual Harassment, on UNICEF's Learning Platform. To access any of the two courses, register here and search for the respective course title.
Clear information outlining the “No Excuses” approach of UN rules and prohibitions related to sexual exploitation and abuse are available to all UNDP personnel on the Conduct and Discipline site, available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.
Any allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse reported to UNDP is assessed and may be investigated by the independent Office of Audit and Investigation. If allegations are substantiated, UNDP will rigorously pursue disciplinary or other action against the perpetrator. Depending on the violation, these cases may also, upon consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs, be referred to national authorities for criminal prosecution.
The UNDP Administrator publishes annually the details of allegations of misconduct, including cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, and sanctions taken.
UNDP also provides real-time reports on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse to the Office of the Special Coordinator. In addition, consolidated data on allegations and substantiated cases of sexual exploitation and abuse are published in the Report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
How to report
All reports of sexual exploitation and abuse must be reported to the Office of Audit and Investigations at:
- Online referral form
- By telephone:
+1 877 557 8685 (within the USA, toll free)
+1 770 776 5678 (worldwide, rev. charges);
- By e-mail at: email@example.com
- By regular mail to: Deputy Director (Investigations), Office of Audit and Investigations, One UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA