SG/Staff Unions letter to system on sexual harassment

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Dear colleagues,

Today we write to reiterate our personal commitment to eliminating sexual harassment from our organization.

The United Nations has a clear policy on sexual harassment and a process to investigate allegations in a fair and confidential manner, with firm sanctions at the organization’s disposal.

However, this in itself is not enough.  We all have a duty and an obligation to create an environment that is welcoming to all, where everyone feels valued and where each colleague can perform at their best regardless of who they are or where they are from.

We should therefore reflect on our everyday behaviour and what we can do better as staff and as managers.  Key to this is understanding that harassment covers a wide range of actions; that this includes unpleasant and inappropriate comments or suggestive remarks; and that colleagues who receive such remarks may be offended, humiliated or discouraged, even if they don’t say so.  Many staff, both victims and witnesses, accept this as an everyday reality.  But this should not be so.

Let’s support colleagues who are harassed and let’s call out harassment where we see it.  Staff representatives and the staff at the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Service, as well as the Ethics Office and the Staff Counsellor’s Office, can assist and advise in full confidence on informal resolution or on how to make a formal complaint.  Links to all these resources are below.

Harassment in any type or form offends the very principles of what we stand for as an Organization and undermines the core values of integrity, competence, and professionalism expected of all.  Together we must fight it. Join us in making that change.


Yours sincerely,

António Guterres – United Nations Secretary-General
Charuwan Tintukasiri – ESCAP Staff Association
Stephen Towler – Field Staff Union
Georges Younes – Staff Council of ESCWA
Joseph Baricako – Staff Council of ECA
Ricardo Jordan – Staff Council of ECLAC
Guy Avognon – Staff Council of UNHCR
Fraser Mcilwraith – UN Criminal Tribunals Staff Union
Dimitri Samaras – UNDP/UNOPS/UNFPA/UNWOMEN Staff Council
Scholastica Madowo – UNICEF Global Staff Association
Ian Richards – UNOG Staff Coordinating Council
Bibi Sherifa Khan – UN Staff Union (New York)
James Ohayo – UN Staff Union Nairobi
Irka Kuleshnyk – UN Staff Union Vienna
Tin Htun Zaw Phyoe – UN University Staff Council

[Click HERE to see the pdf]