Two U.N. staff members have been put on leave, pending an investigation, after a video emerged last week of an apparent sex act in an official U.N. car in Israel, the organization announced Thursday.
“According to information initially gathered by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) as part of its investigation, two male international staff members who were in the U.N. vehicle in Tel Aviv have been identified as having engaged in misconduct, including conduct of a sexual nature,” the U.N. Truce Supervision Office (UNTSO) said in a statement.
The video, released by Inner City Press on Tuesday, shows a woman in a red dress straddling a man in the back seat of a vehicle with U.N. markings as the motorist drives off. Inner City Press first reported that the members belonged to the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
The organization was set up in 1948 to monitor ceasefires in the region. According to its website, observers “remain in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other United Nations peacekeeping operations in the region.”
“Given the seriousness of the allegations of failing to observe the standards of conduct expected of international civil servants, the two staff members have been placed on Administrative Leave Without Pay, pending the results and conclusion of the ongoing OIOS investigation,” the statement said.
It added that UNTSO has “re-engaged in a robust awareness-raising campaign to remind its personnel of their obligations to the U.N. Code of Conduct.”
The video quickly went viral when it was posted online, and a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the chief was “shocked and deeply disturbed by what is seen in the video” and that it “goes against everything that we stand for and have been working to achieve in terms of fighting misconduct by U.N. Staff.”
“We expect the process to be concluded very quickly and intend to take prompt appropriate action,” said the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.