US peacekeeping expert to coordinate sexual abuse response

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Jane Holl Lute, a U.S. security expert who has held top posts in U.N. peacekeeping, was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to coordinate improvements in the United Nations' response to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.

Lute's appointment as special coordinator follows reports of dozens of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeeping troops and police, including against children.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced Lute's appointment, saying the secretary-general is committed to ensuring that issues identified by a high-level independent panel reviewing allegations of abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic "are fully addressed in a timely manner."

The panel's report in December said "gross institutional failure" by the United Nations to act on allegations that French and other peacekeepers sexually abused children in CAR led to more sexual abuse.

Dujarric said Lute will work to "better align our peacekeeping and human rights systems."

The United Nations said on Jan. 29 that there were likely to be 69 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in its worldwide peacekeeping missions in 2015, including 22 in Central African Republic. But the number is certain to be higher since several new cases have been reported since then in CAR.

Lute, a former deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, served as assistant secretary-general for U.N. peacekeeping from 2003-2007 and then as acting undersecretary-general in a newly created department dealing with peacekeeping logistics. She is currently CEO of the Center for Internet Security, a non-profit promoting best practices in cyber-security.