Staff representative Ian Richards calls for policy changes and Emma Reid recounts her own experiences
Your article on sexual harassment and abuse at the UN (19 January) is timely. It also shows one aspect, albeit a serious one, of a general culture of harassment and abuse of authority prevalent in our organisation. Secretary-general António Guterres says he wants to tighten procedures to deal with this. However, saying zero tolerance, as his head of management, Jan Beagle, did (Letters, 21 January) is not enough. He needs to fix the policies that amplify the power difference between abusers, both men and women, and their victims.
Senior managers and heads of field offices can make career-changing decisions over the staff they supervise virtually unchecked, while the human resources staff paid to ensure adherence to the rules depend on those same managers for their own careers. This is being made worse by austerity-driven plans to create yet more standalone offices and service centres far from headquarters, staffed with personnel on local-only contracts paid less and with fewer rights than their international counterparts. The UN’s increasing use of short-term contracts and absence of clear downsizing procedures also makes it easier for managers to pick and choose whom to fire.
Link : Dealing with abuse at the UN needs more than words | Letters