The United Nations, UN, said it is deeply disturbed after a viral video of unidentified people having sex in a UN-marked official car in Israel.
Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, described the behaviour seen in the 18-second video as “abhorrent”.
That kind of behaviour “goes against everything we stand for and having been working to achieve in terms of fighting misconduct by UN staff”, Mr Dujarric told the BBC on Friday.
When asked if the apparent sex act was consensual or involved payment, Mr Dujarric said those questions were part of the ongoing investigation.
“We are shocked and deeply disturbed by what is seen on this video,” Mr Dujarric said in a statement cited by the BBC.
He said an investigation led by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services was “moving very quickly”.
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Mr Dujarric said the location of the incident was known and identification of the individuals seen in the video was “close to being completed”.
Based on buildings visible in the video, the footage appears to have been captured on HaYarkon Street, a usually busy area parallel to the promenade.
“We expect the process to be concluded very quickly and intend to promptly take the appropriate action,” Mr Dujarric said.
However, there are signs that the UN could be having a deep-rooted problem with sexual misconduct.
Heather Barr, co-director of Human Rights Watch’s women’s rights division cited by the BBC, said she was “not surprised” by the video from Israel.
Ms Barr, who worked for the UN in Burundi and Afghanistan, said it was “good they’re investigating it”, but added that the UN “has a bigger problem than this one video”.
“That problem is about allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by staff members of the UN,” Ms Barr said.
In 2019, there were 175 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against UN staff members, a report said. Of those allegations, 16 were substantiated, 15 were unsubstantiated and all others were still being investigated.