Sexual Misconduct

The United Nations system-wide policies prohibiting sexual misconduct (which refers to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment) apply to all UNRWA personnel.

The Ethics Office has a number of responsibilities related to the Agency’s policies on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of beneficiaries and on the prohibition of discrimination, harassment – including sexual harassment – and abuse of power in the work context.


Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of refugees and other members of the local community by our own staff is a gross violation of our mandate.

SEA occurs when an UNRWA employee abuses his or her position for sexual purposes. This includes, amongst other things:

  • the exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, even if perceived “voluntary”;
  • any actual or attempted involuntary act of a sexual nature, including sexual touching, forced upon a beneficiary or other member of the local community;
  • sexual relationships or activities with anyone under the age of 18
  • improper sexual relationships or activities with beneficiaries based on improper use of rank or position

UNRWA has a zero-tolerance policy on SEA. Sexual exploitation and abuse is serious misconduct and constitutes ground for the most severe disciplinary measures, up to and including summary dismissal. Click on the tab below to read the rules on SEA.

Know the SEA rules! There is no excuse.



Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment (SH) is sexual misconduct committed by UN personnel against other UN personnel, which includes UNRWA staff.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

While typically involving a pattern of behaviour, it can also take the be a single incident. Both males and females can be either the victims or the offenders. Some examples include:

  • unwelcome comments, gestures, and jokes of a sexual nature
  • requests for sexual favours to obtain a promotion or favourable treatment at work

attempted or actual sexual assault or rape


The poster below illustrates the main differences between SEA and SH and information on how to report



Humanitarian workers must report sexual misconduct. For more information please visit this page “How to Report