UN chief calls for culture change after Oxfam allegations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that a culture change is required to enable women across the world t...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 3:05 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 3:05 PM

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that a culture change is required to enable women across the world to work without fear of sexual harassment.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Guterres said that the allegations that have engulfed the British charity Oxfam served as a reminder of the "serious problem that is everywhere."

Guterres, whose own organization has faced criticism over abuse by peacekeeping forces, said "everything possible" must be done to change the culture that has allowed

"No form of sexual harassment... is acceptable," he told CNN.

Oxfam's reputation has taken a battering after it was accused of attempting to cover up the behavior of some of its senior staff members deployed to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake.

"I think we need to be fully aware that this is a serious problem that is everywhere, in public administrations, in the private sector, in international organizations like the UN... in the civil society and in nongovernmental organizations," Guterres said.

"There is a central question. We still live in a male-dominated culture, in a male-dominated world, and so these things happen and people are afraid to come out, to speak up, to denounce. So, we need to do everything possible to change this culture."

The UN has faced its own abuse scandals. In 2016, there were 80 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by uniformed United Nations personnel and 65 allegations against civilian workers who support the peacekeeping missions, according to a report by Guterres published last year.

Read: UN peacekeepers accused of raping civilians

As a result of the report, Guterres unveiled recommendations from a task force attempting to eradicate sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the field.

"We have already appointed eight global victim advocates in the areas more dramatically impacted to make sure that there is support to the victims, for the victims to be able to come and denounce what has happened. Not to be afraid," Guterres told CNN Friday.

In Oxfam's case, the aid workers -- including the Oxfam country director at the time, Roland van Hauwermeiren -- were accused of using prostitutes in a villa rented by the organization.

Addressing the allegations, Van Hauwermeiren acknowledged his behavior was unacceptable. "I should have known better, I'm a man of flesh and blood," van Hauwermeiren told Belgian TV Thursday.

"Nobody is perfect, but I'm no pig. I don't feel good about the people who are told by perhaps less professional journalists that Oxfam is used to hold sex orgies with the money from good citizens, but that is absolutely... it is absolutely not correct."

'Urgent review'

On Friday, Oxfam announced that an independent commission would carry out an "urgent" review into the allegations alongside a "comprehensive action plan to stamp out abuse."

In a statement, the charity's international executive director, Winnie Byanyima, said Oxfam is "absolutely committed to ensuring justice for survivors of abuse."

"What happened in Haiti and afterward is a stain on Oxfam that will shame us for years, and rightly so," she said. "From the bottom of my heart I am asking for forgiveness."

Oxfam said the commission would be headed by leading women's rights experts. I t has also pledged to triple its annual safeguarding funding to just over $1 million.

The charity said it was committed to publishing its 2011 internal investigation into the Haiti scandal "as soon as possible." The names of the men involved have already been shared with the Haitian authorities,it said..

Since the revelations were first reported in The Times last week, Oxfam has lost two high-profile ambassadors, the actor Minnie Driver and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. On Monday, its deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned.

The British government has warned it could lose millions of pounds in public funding because of the scandal. Oxfam received about -32 million (about $44 million) from the government last year.

The UK Charity Commission, an independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, opened a statutory inquiry into the allegations.

Oxfam did not deny the accusations against its staff members, but it denied a cover-up, saying that it launched a swift internal investigation after it became aware of the allegations. Four people were fired and another three resigned, including van Hauwermeiren, the charity said

Huntsville
Few Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
Florence
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Fayetteville
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Few Clouds
58° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 58°
Scottsboro
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 57°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18911337
Mobile13039289
Montgomery8628173
Madison750775
Tuscaloosa7180114
Lee570559
Shelby564550
Baldwin504749
Marshall382143
Etowah333447
Calhoun332039
Morgan318126
Houston269922
Elmore251947
DeKalb234619
St. Clair221335
Walker220780
Talladega205026
Limestone197319
Cullman183017
Franklin174128
Dallas173626
Russell17112
Autauga167324
Lauderdale164133
Colbert159326
Escambia155725
Blount154214
Jackson149411
Chilton147127
Dale132743
Covington130227
Coffee12708
Pike11519
Tallapoosa113183
Chambers112342
Clarke104917
Marion93728
Butler90838
Barbour8307
Marengo69919
Winston69912
Lowndes64527
Pickens63114
Bibb62810
Hale61228
Randolph60712
Bullock58514
Lawrence58220
Monroe5758
Geneva5634
Cherokee55516
Washington54413
Perry5376
Clay5367
Wilcox53011
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52231
Macon47620
Henry4674
Fayette4189
Sumter41819
Lamar3452
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3206
Greene30015
Coosa1613
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 181439

Reported Deaths: 2216
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby29800446
Davidson25840289
Hamilton903388
Rutherford890287
Knox880672
Williamson503036
Sumner462993
Wilson331841
Putnam301937
Montgomery292243
Bradley281816
Out of TN281123
Unassigned28036
Madison259656
Sevier250013
Blount242523
Maury218323
Robertson215133
Washington212332
Sullivan203831
Hamblen183125
Tipton171117
Trousdale16477
Hardeman151325
Gibson149219
Wayne14785
Bedford129516
Dyer125312
Dickson117612
Cumberland114317
Anderson111711
Fayette111118
Carter110827
Weakley110419
Henderson110119
Loudon10996
Greene107936
Coffee106912
Obion10669
Jefferson105114
McMinn104524
Macon100719
Warren9977
Monroe99416
Hardin95414
Lawrence93911
Lauderdale92815
Haywood90016
Franklin8757
Lake8712
Bledsoe8444
Roane8284
Carroll81617
Cheatham78410
McNairy78316
Rhea76611
White7639
Hawkins74716
Cocke7309
Marshall6985
Overton6734
Smith66910
Johnson6352
Henry5949
Chester5769
Lincoln5761
Giles54917
DeKalb54111
Hickman5154
Crockett49719
Marion4937
Decatur4556
Claiborne4234
Fentress4223
Campbell4153
Polk37511
Grainger3462
Benton3319
Union3311
Jackson3024
Morgan3023
Unicoi2741
Cannon2690
Grundy2305
Humphreys2243
Sequatchie2193
Meigs2163
Scott1972
Clay1825
Houston1780
Lewis1691
Stewart1672
Van Buren1490
Moore1451
Perry1400
Hancock1063
Pickett942

Community Events