UNAIDS Must Be More Transparent

In Ethiopia, Global Advocacy, Global Featured by Fiona Ip

Former UNAIDS Executive Director Michele Sidibé listens as advocates call for his resignation at a protest in South Africa in 2018.

References to a second investigation into allegations of sexual harassment within UNAIDS dating back to 2018 have surfaced in a recent Associated Press story. Still, in yet another example of a pervasive lack of transparency and accountability across the United Nations system, the conclusions of the investigation remain hidden from public view.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges UNAIDS to release a summary of the investigation to reassure the public that due process has been followed in evaluating the conduct of its former deputy executive director towards other UNAIDS employees.

According to AP, an internal UNAIDS email last week characterized the conduct of a former top official towards women as “unacceptable.” “The missive appeared to be a thinly veiled reference to Dr. Luiz Loures, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general at UNAIDS, who allegedly forcibly kissed a staffer, Martina Brostrom, before trying to drag her out of a Bangkok hotel elevator,” says the AP story. Loures says there was no misconduct on his part, according to the story.

“If the public is left out in the dark about how the UN system handles employee conduct that can potentially reflect poorly on its reputation, then it’s clear that accountability cannot be assured, or even expected behind closed doors in far-flung Geneva,” said AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “UNAIDS says it has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on sexual misconduct, so why not follow its words with actions and release a summary of the second investigation? Not doing so is a disservice to UNAIDS, the people affected by this situation, and it undermines donor and public trust in its current leadership.”

AHF first called for the resignation of the then-executive director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé in April 2018 after he failed to fully investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault by the agency’s senior leadership. Read the original story from 2018 here: “AHF: UNAIDS Executive Director Must Resign After Mishandling Sexual Harassment Scandal.”

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