Military Expert on Investigations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Published on Ms Harriet Pointon Mather (author)

Topic(s): Training, Culture, Strategy

Lieutenant Commander Tyson Nicholas is seconded to the United Nations Headquarters as their Military Expert on Investigations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), and is usually based in New York, USA. (photo: )
Lieutenant Commander Tyson Nicholas is seconded to the United Nations Headquarters as their Military Expert on Investigations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), and is usually based in New York, USA.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which was a landmark moment in the recognition of the gender impact of conflict and the need to address the rights of women and girls and conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.

The next in a series of articles examining the implementation of UNSCR 1325 by the Royal Australian Navy and how individuals engaged in Gender, Peace and Security roles throughout the organisation are making a difference.

Lieutenant Commander Tyson Nicholas is currently seconded to the Department of Peace Operations at the United Nations Headquarters as their Military Expert on Investigations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), usually based in New York, USA.

Lieutenant Commander Nicholas describes SEA as representing a misuse of power and trust, violating human rights and undermining the UN efforts towards peace and security, gender equality and protection.

Having undertaken many operational deployments Lieutenant Commander Nicholas was drawn to a career in international human rights and humanitarian law after witnessing firsthand the systematic and destructive use of sexual violence as a weapon in conflict situations.

“The position with the United Nations required a background in Law, military experience as an officer in the armed forces, knowledge of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Gender Based Violence and previous experience as part of a UN peacekeeping mission,” Lieutenant Commander Nicholas said.

“My work at the UN focuses on ensuring zero-tolerance for impunity for acts of SEA, through supporting member states in their capacity to conduct transparent and professional investigations into SEA allegations to ensure accountability.”

Lieutenant Commander Nicholas is also responsible for the development and delivery of a “train the trainer” course to train National Investigation Officers to prevent and investigate allegations of SEA in UN peacekeeping.

“The primary aim of this course is to ensure that National Investigation Officers have the tools they need to investigate allegations of SEA attributed to troops in UN Peacekeeping missions, preventing occurrences in the first place and responding by ensuring those guilty of SEA are held accountable through discipline measures or criminally through military or national justice systems.”

The United Nations has a zero tolerance policy in regards to SEA and acknowledges it as a violation of fundamental human rights that has profound impacts on victims and survivors.

“Sexual Exploitation and Abuse exploits and exacerbates vulnerabilities in physical safety and security, access to shelter, reliable and safe food sources, potable water, sanitation, healthcare, education, economic opportunity and participation in decision making processes,” said Lieutenant Commander Nicholas.

“Sexual Exploitation and Abuse represents an ever present challenge to delivering strategic, operational and tactical effects towards and end state of peace and security.”

“The protection of human rights and achievement of gender equality are inherently linked to the achievement of lasting peace and security and, as many studies have shown, the more equality within a society, the more likely the society is to experience extended periods of relative peace.”