Governance – UNAIDS
Sweden suspends funding for UN Aids agency as Britain urged to follow suit
Swedish minister calls for Michel Sidibé to step down after report alleging harassment and favouritism at agency
The Guardian, Wed 12 Dec 2018 15.52 GMT Last modified on Wed 12 Dec 2018 15.53 GMT
The Swedish government has announced it is to withhold funding to a UN agency until its director resigns in a row over his “dysfunctional leadership”.
UNAids, which spearheads the global fight against Aids and HIV, will receive no further funding until its executive director, Michel Sidibé, stands down, said Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s minister for international development cooperation and climate.
The warning follows a scathing report that condemned a patriarchal culture within the organisation.
Britain has been attacked by campaigners for not taking a similarly strong stance. The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), is also a key donor.
Sweden, UNAid’s second biggest donor after the US, contributed 260m Swedish krona (£22m) in 2017.
UNAids was thrown into an unprecedented crisis after an independent review released on Friday warned of “a patriarchal culture tolerating harassment and abuse of authority”.
Calling for a change of leadership, the report said Sidibé had set a tone of “favouritism, preferment, opaqueness, license for wrongdoing, and retaliation against those who speak up against such practices”.
The report, commissioned following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and bullying, is being discussed by the agency’s oversight body, the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), this week.
During the session, which began on Tuesday, Sidibé announced that the next board meeting, in June 2019, would be his last, but did not specify when he plans to step down…
UNAIDS Board calls for immediate implementation of UNAIDS agenda for change
GENEVA, 13 December 2018—The UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) has called on UNAIDS to fully implement the management response (UNAIDS agenda for change) to address harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power, at the UNAIDS Secretariat which was presented to Board members by the Executive Director of UNAIDS on Tuesday 11 December.
The decision was agreed by the members of the PCB at the conclusion of the 43rd meeting of the PCB in Geneva, Switzerland, today. The PCB agreed to establish a working group to oversee the immediate implementation of the management response and to discuss the report of the Independent Expert Panel in a special PCB meeting before March 2019. The PCB also welcomed the statement of the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association and the critical role they played in bringing to the PCB’s attention the issue of harassment at the workplace.
“We don’t have a moment to lose in moving forward our management response. Our actions will make UNAIDS stronger and better,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “I look forward to working with all staff to make UNAIDS a model workplace for staff in all their diversity. I look forward to an inclusive, transparent and open dialogue and collaboration with staff in shaping a new UNAIDS.”
The Executive Director of UNAIDS also told the PCB that he wanted to have an orderly transition of leadership at UNAIDS in the final year of his term. He informed the UNAIDS Board that its meeting in June 2019 would be his last Board meeting and he would complete his duties at the end of June 2019.
“I am proud of the successes of UNAIDS. In the past 10 years we have been instrumental in saving millions of lives and averting millions of new HIV infections. The staff of UNAIDS are our greatest asset and I am privileged to serve alongside them,” said Mr Sidibé. “I will work to ensure a smooth transition and pledge to keep my focus on our staff and delivering results for the people we serve.”
UNAIDS’ agenda for change will be critical in ensuring that the staff of UNAIDS can continue to build on these successes and deliver maximum results for people living with and affected by HIV. It focuses on five action areas: a staff-centred approach, compliance and standards, leadership and governance, management and capacity. Each area outlines key actions that the UNAIDS Secretariat will undertake.
UNAIDS reiterates its commitment to lead by example in eliminating all forms of harassment, bullying and abuse of power by creating a respectful, transparent and accountable environment that enables all staff to contribute their full potential to deliver for the people they serve.
UNAIDS Executive Director’s report to PCB-43
13 December 2018 :: 16 pages
Agenda item 3.1 Report on the work of the Independent Expert Panel on Prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment; bullying and abuse of power at UNAIDS Secretariat
11 December 2018 :: 19 pages
DOCUMENT PREPARED BY THE PROGRAMME COORDINATING BOARD BUREAU
43rd Meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board
11-13 December 2018
Agenda item 3: Prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS Secretariat
5.1 Recognizes the important contribution and commitment of the UNAIDS Secretariat staff to implement the UNAIDS Strategy and support Member States to achieve the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS;
5.2 Commits to zero tolerance against harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power to ensure the highest standards in order to create an exemplary workplace in the UNAIDS Secretariat;
5.3 Welcomes the earlier request of the Executive Director to establish the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) on prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS Secretariat;
5.4 Recalls that the PCB endorsed the steps taken by the PCB Bureau in response to this request and agreed that the priority should be for the IEP to be enabled and empowered to provide an authoritative review and a comprehensive set of recommendations pertaining to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS Secretariat;
5.5 Notes that the IEP has presented its report and recommendations to the PCB;
5.6 Notes that the UNAIDS Secretariat has presented its Management Response to the PCB;
5.7 Welcomes the statement by the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association (USSA), and recognizes the critical role of the USSA in bringing the PCB’s attention to this important issue;
5.8 Highlights both, the limited circulation time of these important reports and the divergent, varied and differing views expressed by the PCB members and observers;
5.9 Emphasizes that there is consensus on the need for action to address harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power;
5.10 Recognizes with remorse the negative impact of harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power on the staff of the UNAIDS Secretariat and their ability to deliver on the critical mandate of the Joint Programme;
5.11 Notes that some of the recommendations of the IEP and the Management Response have broader implications for the United Nations system;
5.12 Notes that, as part of the Joint Programme’s commitment to transparency and accountability, the IEP report is in the public domain and has been transmitted to the UN Secretary-General by the UNAIDS Secretariat;
5.13 Decides that, at a special session of the PCB no later than March 2019, the PCB after complete consideration of the IEP report may elect or choose to bring specific recommendations to the attention of the UN Secretary-General;
5.14 Decides to establish a working group of the PCB to oversee the immediate implementation of the management response and to further review the conclusions and recommendations contained in the IEP report, and the management response, proposing options to the next PCB meeting, for strengthening the PCB’s monitoring and evaluation role on the UNAIDS Secretariat with the view of ensuring zero tolerance against harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at the UNAIDS Secretariat;
5.15 Calls on the UNAIDS Secretariat to:
a. Fully implement the actions set out in the Management Response, and develop a more detailed, fully costed Management Action plan, complete with review mechanisms and timeline, with regards to the IEP recommendations, which are under its responsibility, in a robust, measurable, timely and ambitious way for consideration by the PCB by intersessional decision making;
b. Operate to the highest standards to tackle harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power;
c. Provide a Progress Report to the next regular session of the PCB on the implementation of the above actions;