UNITED NATIONAL, June 29 (IPS) – The United Nations has continued to crack down on sexual harassment system-wide since 2017 while its “whistleblower protection policy” has provided “protected status”. protection” for nearly 68 UN staff who reported misconduct.
But Equality Now, an international human rights organization, is accusing the UN of faltering in its longstanding “zero tolerance” policy.
Antonia Kirkland, Global Team Leader for Legal Equality and Access to Justice at Equality Now told IPS her organization was “shocked and concerned to discover that Kingston Rhodes, former Secretary-General of the United Nations , was allowed back into the UN corridor. The states, although previously resigned from senior positions following multiple sexual harassment allegations against him, were deemed “credible” in an internal investigation by the Office of Internal Monitoring Services. (OIOS) does “.
Although the Secretary-General acknowledged that the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse were “credible”, she pointed out that Mr. Rhodes, former Chairman of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), could function in silence without being held accountable. for his conduct and alarmingly has now been allowed to become affiliated with the UN on a voluntary basis of influence.
The outcry was triggered by his new position on the Employee Retirement Committee.
“The appointment of the new Mr. Rhodes because of his past unacceptable behavior is an affront to the women of whom he has been a victim. It also discourages those who have experienced sexual harassment from reporting cases because it sends a malicious message that, once again, powerful men at the UN can harass female colleagues without unpunished,” she argued.
Equality Now sent a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressing concern about Mr. Rhodes being allowed to take the position, and said he should be “disqualified from serving on the AFICS/NY Retirement Committee and request to resign from this position immediately.”
On June 10, Equality Now received what it called an “unsatisfactory response” from Catherine Pollard, Secretary General for Strategy, Policy and Management Compliance.
The response from Pollard read: “Having noted your concerns, I must remind you that, as Mr. Rhodes is a retired former employee, the Secretary-General has no authority in relation to his status member of the AFICS Committee.” . Kirkland told IPS that the UN claims to have a “no-fly list” of 564 names of people who have left the UN following allegations of sexual abuse or harassment.
“Mr. Rhodes’ name should be included on that list. He is not allowed to ‘represent the interests’ of sexual harassment victims or any other former UN staff.”
“They are also not allowed to interact further with him or must ensure that personal financial data and other information is not shared with him through the auspices of the United Nations,” Mr Kirkland said. She said the UN is the leading international organization that defends human rights and must take a zero-tolerance approach to the sexual harassment of its employees and apply it to all, without exception and no matter what position the violator holds.
“Anyone found to have engaged in sexual harassment should be fully documented and victims and whistleblowers protected from future interactions with them.”
“Current and former staff are continuing to raise the alarm about widespread over-reporting of sexual harassment and abuse within United Nations agencies. Kirkland states: “There is an urgent need for leadership to ensure clear, effective policies are implemented, complaints are addressed promptly, and both victims and whistleblowers receive protection and support. aid.
Shihana Mohamed, who worked under Rhodes in the office of the International Civil Service Commission as a Human Resources Policy Officer, told IPS “recent news was about the naming of Rhodes, the former Chairman. The president of ICSC, who has been identified as a sexual harasser, to the Association of Former Officials Retirement Committees International (AFICS) / NY to represent the interests of former employees is shocking, extremely disturbing and unacceptable.” “It is even more shocking because this is coming after a series of initiatives by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Sexual Harassment Task Force of the United Nations. him, as well as many efforts by United Nations organizations, NGOs and civil society.” Zero tolerance for sexual harassment and no return of sexual perpetrators to the UN system, formally or informally, must be fundamental to protecting the dignity of all staff and ensuring integrity of UN policies and mechanisms to create an enabling environment in Mohamed, who has more than 20 years of experience in the UN system, having worked at UNESCAP, UNDESA, UNOHRM and UNDPKO. All formal and informal United Nations organizations, including AFICS, must Stop Permitting Sexual Harassment and Reward Sexual Harassers. Instead, they should do their best to uphold the values of the Charter of the United Nations,” said Mohamed, who is also a founding member and one of the coordinators of the Diversity and Inclusion Network. Asia (UN-ANDI), statement. Meanwhile, when asked about the recent BBC documentary on sexual abuse and corruption in the UN system – and the complaints of whistleblowers – UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “” When it comes to people who feel they have been sexually harassed or abused within the UN System, our hearts go out to them. ”
He also said that Guterres remains “focused on strengthening the protection of whistleblowers” and that since 2017 “about 68 people have been awarded some sort of protective status because they reported misconduct.”
Report of the United Nations Office IPS
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