UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday highlighted specific actions aimed at ending sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel that require “urgent” support from countries that provide troops and police to peacekeeping operations.

“Your sons and daughters risk their lives in some of the most troubled parts of the world to protect the vulnerable while advancing the cause of peace,” the secretary-general told delegates. “Yet, as we have regrettably seen, the integrity of their mission can be called into question – indeed undermined – by flagrant cases of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

The UN chief pointed to more than a dozen recent allegations of misconduct by peacekeepers that are under investigation in the Central African Republic, which he said is not a “new phenomenon.”

“As you know, I have taken difficult but necessary decisions to demonstrate our resolve. Much more needs to be done to stamp out sexual exploitation and abuse in our missions,” he added.

“I cannot do it alone. This is also a core responsibility for Member States.” For this reason, the secretary-general said he is asking countries that contribute troop and police personnel to join him in doing more to end this “unacceptable conduct,” through seven specific actions. “First, we must work to prevent misconduct even before personnel are on the ground,” he stated. “Pre-deployment education and human rights training must be enhanced. Troops and police must be made fully aware of what constitutes sexual exploitation and abuse, and the importance of upholding the zero-tolerance policy.”

Ban said personnel must be properly and fully vetted so no individual with a past record of sexual exploitation and abuse can ever be allowed to serve the UN in any capacity.