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Independent on Sunday on tackling sexual harassment and abuse at UNAIDS

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The Independent on Sunday has today reported on comments made by the chairman of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) to campaigner Paula Donovan, who runs the Code Blue Campaign.

The UK is committed to tackling sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse across the aid sector, and we have made it clear that we will only work with organisations that operate to the highest standards. The suggestion that there is a lack of appetite to tackle these issues does not reflect the views of the UK, the Chair of the PCB or the wider UNAIDS PCB.

The UK is the Chair this year of the UNAIDS PCB, and has taken a leading role in the establishment of an independent expert panel that will review the allegations being made against UNAIDS, evaluate current policies and procedures, and make robust recommendations for what needs to change in the future.

The panel will:

  • Review all reported cases of harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and abuse of power, over the last seven years.
  • Look at why more formal cases have not been brought despite relatively high reported levels of sexual harassment in the anonymised annual staff survey.
  • Seek to understand the nature of the culture and practice in the organisation.
  • Have access to all relevant sensitive information, all relevant policies and procedures, and it will interview staff, ex staff and other key stakeholders, including civil society groups, to assess the ways in which these allegations have been addressed.
  • Make robust recommendations, including on how cases are investigated, to ensure victims are supported and protected, people feel confident to bring cases, investigations are timely, responsive and fit for purpose, and that there are clear consequences for perpetrators .

This is our response to the Independent on Sunday article:

A DFID spokesperson said: “An independent expert panel will be appointed to carry out a review into UNAIDS We will expect them to look at all the allegations raised and to make recommendations for what needs to change.

“We have been very clear that we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require.”




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