The UN has launching a 24-hour helpline to enable staff to call out sexual harassment in the workplace, Secretary-General António Guterres has said.
Guterres said in his email sent to staff members that the help-line was meant to speak confidentially to trained officials who could provide protection for them.
“The helpline is a 24-hour resource for UN Secretariat personnel to speak confidentially with an impartial and trained individual who can provide information on protection, support and reporting mechanisms,” he said.
The ‘Speak up’ helpline, which goes live on Tuesday, is part of the UN’s five-point plan to address such behaviour within its ranks and would complement existing reporting mechanisms.
The UN chief said the goal is to attend to the needs of personnel, and to empower them to make informed decisions on action, if they choose.
The Investigations Division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services will, with immediate effect, take responsibility for investigating all complaints of sexual harassment.
In addition, it would implement a streamlined, fast-tracked procedure to receive, process and address complaints.
He said a specialised team focusing on the investigation of sexual harassment is also being created.
Guterres added that additional investigators are under recruitment, with particular attention given to increasing the number of female investigators.
“I reiterate my commitment to zero tolerance of sexual harassment, and underline that harassment of any type is antithetical to the principles for which we stand as an organisation,” he said.
As members of a standard-setting institution, he said, the UN must be committed to fostering an inclusive environment in which every person is valued and respected.
According to him, a harmonious, safe and civil workplace is a key to delivering on its mandates for the people it serves.