Will THIS start a #MeTooUN movement?
WILL THIS START A
February 23, 2018 – Today Luiz Loures, a UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director at UNAIDS, “communicated his wish not to seek renewal of his position.” Loures was accused of sexually assaulting a female subordinate. The case was closed after a questionable internal “investigation” that featured improper meddling by the Executive Director of UNAIDS.
Yesterday, Justin Forsyth, an Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF, was allowed to resign following revelations that he sexually harassed female subordinates during his previous job at Save the Children. He left his UN job because he was concerned about protecting “our cause and the cause of aid,” he said in a statement.
Other senior UN officials accused of sexual harassment and sexual abuse are enjoying fully paid suspensions, awaiting exoneration by a system designed to bid predators farewell, thank them for their years of "service," and gently place them in the high-level recycling bin.
Eight days ago, the UN offered its sympathies upon the passing of Ruud Lubbers, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Not a word was spoken about how Lubbers was eased from his post 12 years ago, following multiple allegations of sexual offenses against female staff. He was replaced at UNHCR by Mr. António Guterres.
What is now-Secretary-General António Guterres' latest response to the workplace sexual harassment that corrodes UN offices and drives women out of the system?
Yet another internal task force. Its members will be drawn the Chief Executives Board, which includes 31 top UN officials, just 26% of whom are female. That task force will be chaired by Jan Beagle, who also held the title of Deputy Executive Director at UNAIDS throughout much of the Luiz Loures scandal and did nothing and said nothing. Ms. Beagle was promoted last year by Secretary-General Guterres to the most senior and visible management position in the UN system. The identities of the other members of the sexual harassment task force of "senior leaders" are the Secretary-General's carefully guarded secret.
Throughout the world, prominent sexual harassers and predators are being fired. Entire industries—entertainment, tech, academia, legislatures, humanitarian aid organizations—have been forced to acknowledge their problems, name names, and take immediate action.
But not the UN.
Standing increasingly alone, the UN continues to downplay, dismiss, protest, and justify. Its own staff conduct internal “investigations” behind tightly locked doors, devoid of oversight, designed to exonerate the accused and belittle accusers. When its senior officials are exposed by advocates and media as misogynistic, or even criminal, the UN offers the accused a dignified exit.
Enough covering up, enough gentlemanly farewells, enough task forces.
It’s time for a #MeTooUN movement.
It's time for the world's governments to call their international civil service to task. It's time for Member States to create an entirely independent, external oversight commission of true experts to watch, in real-time, every step taken, everywhere in the system, in response to every allegation of a sexual offense.
In the era of smart phones, no amount of "improvement" to the UN Organization's rotary-dial systems of justice can make them fit for the 21stcentury.