Agenda item 2. Update on the Independent Expert Panel on prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power at UNAIDS Secretariat
Delivered by Ferenc Bagyinszky, NGO Europe
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Since the first news on sexual harassment at the UNAIDS Secretariat emerged, the NGO Delegation has been closely following developments on the issue in relation to the Secretariat and the broader UN system in general. Given our unique position on the Board and our mandate, we have continued conversations with our constituencies. From these conversations, we have had to realize that, even within our Delegation, our perception and understanding of the issue is as diverse as the communities we come from; it is shaped by our own lived experiences and the experiences of our communities. This by no means should be viewed as division within our communities.
There was one key particular issue that emerged from these discussions that I would like to address and clarify the Delegation´s standpoint on. We have heard rising concerns that the energy, time and money invested into addressing the issue, including the setting up of the Independent Panel is diverting attention, capacities and funds from our core business and duties of the Board, the Joint Programme and in broader sense, the HIV response.
On behalf of the NGO Delegation, I would like to deliver our united standpoint: this IS NOT diversion from our core business; this IS our core business of the HIV response at ALL levels as gender based violence, harassment, bullying, and abuse of power are deeply rooted at all levels of society and are the main drivers behind the HIV epidemic in all regions.
It is our duty, and I am addressing each and every one of us in the room, regardless of our affiliation, to grab the momentum that has been catalyzed and driven by the brave women of the #Metoo movement, and finally address the underlying issue of abuse of power that manifests in the form of stigma and discrimination, harassment and violence, if we are to take our commitment to ending AIDS seriously.
Unless these underlying, deeply rooted issues are addressed, all the great work, energy and funds invested into the AIDS response will not be able to reach our common goal, ending AIDS.
It is HIGH time to bring in the long due structural reforms and fundamental changes, so that after over 35 years into the epidemic, women, young persons, people who use drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people of trans experience, and people living with HIV in our own and unique diversities can finally enjoy equality and solidarity that is inherent to all human beings and live our lives free of harassment, abuse and violence.
The UNAIDS we want is at the forefront of this change by embracing it as its core business.