A Message from the UNDP Administrator on how UNDP is addressing the issue of sexual harassment in our organization.

«Earlier this year, I promised to review how we are handling the issue of sexual harassment in our organization and to put in place mechanisms to strengthen support to victims, as well as make it harder for perpetrators to get away with these sorts of behaviours.  In your feedback to me, and to your managers and colleagues, you have been very clear that people want, and deserve, to work in an environment where they are respected and where they feel safe to report misconduct – of any kind – without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, we know that this is not the case in all of our teams across the world. This has to change. 

undp adminThe term “zero tolerance” is empty rhetoric if it is not met with real action.

I’m pleased to announce today the newly revised policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Abuse of Authority as well as the updated policy on Protection against Retaliation. Both policies have been revised in line with guidance from the UN Secretary General’s High Level Task Force on Addressing Sexual Harassment as well as best practice more broadly.

The revisions to the policy on sexual harassment are the first outcome of the ongoing work of the UNDP Taskforce on Sexual Harassment that I established a few months ago to look at how we as an organisation address this issue. Thank you to the members of the Task Force and to the many colleagues who supported this effort.

  •  Given the gravity and sensitivity of sexual harassment cases, I have agreed the following special arrangements:
  • An independent, free, and externally managed helpline for reporting sexual harassment: available 24 hours in multiple languages. The helpline should be up and running in June
  • Counselling services for victims of sexual harassment: in place by the end of May
  • The removal of any time limit for reporting sexual harassment
  • Anonymous reporting for all misconduct
  • New and additional capacity for our legal and investigation offices
  • Widening the coverage of the whole policy to cover all UNDP personnel, not just staff

I hope that these special arrangements will help to encourage victims of sexual harassment to come forward and report any incidents, as well as build our capacity to progress these cases more effectively in the future.

However, revised policies, procedures, and special measures will only work if victims believe they will be heard and if perpetrators suffer real consequences for their actions. I have agreed with my senior management team that this a priority, and together we are committed to help lead a change in culture throughout our organization. The Taskforce is already preparing a comprehensive package of support for all country offices, regional hubs, and headquarters to help you implement the revised policy. Conversations have already started at regional meetings in Istanbul, Amman, and Bangkok, as well as Addis at the end of the month.

In 12 months, we will review where we are and will keep working on it together until we reach our destination: a UNDP where everyone is respected and not afraid to report.

As we continue this conversation throughout the year, I welcome your feedback and comments on the new policy and procedures, and how we might improve them further.» 

–Achim Steiner, UNDP Adminstrator