Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment
World Health Organization (WHO)
150th Session of the Executive Board
Geneva, Switzerland – Virtual Meeting
January 24-29, 2022
As delivered by Ambassador Bathsheba N. Crocker
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
Agenda item 20.1 (PBAC Agenda Item 3.7)
The United States aligns itself with the joint statement delivered by the United Kingdom. The United States takes matters of sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, and all forms of misconduct very seriously. We acknowledge the recent progress WHO has made, but recognize broader organizational reforms are needed, as well as the dedicated effort now required to translate the vision laid out for WHO’s work in this area into concrete results on the ground.
WHO’s efforts to increase awareness, conduct trainings, and build capacity, are essential, but insufficient absent sustained investments in evidence-driven survivor-centered, prevention, risk mitigation and response protocols. This includes ensuring essential functions, such as investigations, are performed by properly trained investigators. We welcome the emphasis WHO has given to its investigative workforce.
Measures to prevent harassment and other forms of abuse are critical, but WHO must also encourage reporting, respond promptly and appropriately when incidents are reported, and deliver survivor-centered services.
Further progress will also require a review of policy, reporting mechanisms, investigations, and consequences for perpetrators as well as managers who fail to respond effectively.
We call on WHO to share results and recommendations of all reviews and audits of the organization’s SEAH response, compliance and accountability functions, and regulatory frameworks with Member States.
We urge WHO’s head of investigations to provide updates on the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services’ follow-up investigations into the DRC allegations and ask WHO to confidentially share with member states the investigation report when available.
Organizational change starts at the top with leadership. We call on WHO to ensure that roles and expectations are clear and to enforce whistleblower protections
Together, we must continue to demand tangible progress in preventing and responding to SEAH.