More than 50 countries have called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to take action against those responsible for sexual harassment.
According to the French news agency AFP, at the Executive Board meeting of the United Nations, countries urged to support the victims of harassment.
The World Health Organization is under pressure after it was revealed in 2020 that its aid workers were involved in sexual abuse in the Congo.
British Ambassador Simon Manley read out a joint statement from 57 countries expressing “deep concern and concern” over allegations of abuses allegedly inflicted on agency workers and contractors.
These countries include South Africa, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Chile, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, North Korea and Ukraine, in addition to the 27 countries of the European Union.
Countries have recognized and appreciated the bravery of victims of harassment and ‘whistleblowers’ reporting illegal incidents in recent years.
“It is very important to foster a working environment based on integrity, transparency and accountability,” the countries said.
“We encourage WHO management to further set an example that includes points of responsibility and accountability.”
“We support WHO’s initiatives to improve staff training and capacity building,” the joint statement added. It should also raise awareness of the power differentials and inequalities between victims and perpetrators that are at the root of sexual assault.
It also called for countries to focus on victims and survivors of sexual assault.
Complaints should be noticed in a timely manner and those responsible should be held accountable. We also support making WHO’s investigation process more efficient.
It was also said on behalf of the countries’ representatives that “we expect member states to be provided with immediate confidential reporting that includes details of action against sexual assault.”
The task of the 34-member Executive Board is to consult with the World Health Assembly of member countries, which is the WHO’s decision-making body, and also implements them.
The 152nd session of the Executive Board began on Monday and will continue till February 7.
The World Health Organization says that it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding any form of sexual harassment and that immediate action is taken if any such allegations are made against any of its workers.