44th PCB - Intervention by Andrew Spieldenner - Agenda 5 Statement by the representative of the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association

Delivered by Andrew Spieldenner, North America NGO Delegate

Thank you for the opportunity to speak, Chair.

The NGO Delegation supports the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association and are gratified at seeing the overall staff satisfaction with the changes at UNAIDS, including the adoption and start of the Management Action Plan. We see the well-being of the staff as integral to strengthening UNAIDS.

Culture changes are required to ensure that these goals are met. Culture change in terms of how people interact with each other, as well as the workload expected of them. We are heartened that UNAIDS is moving in this direction. Work cultures do not move with just policy adoption, they do when staff from all levels are engaged and encouraged to alter how they interact with each other and their workplace. We expect that the Management Team, with the addition of the Deputy Executive Director and the Director of Human Resources, will achieve these results.

As we have noted in our interventions, power must be attended to in the workplace, whether it’s hierarchical power because of differing positions or power inequalities due to identity. A minority in my own country - I am gay, a racial minority and living with HIV- I am all too familiar with how our identities can be weaponized in the workplace, how people will overlook the power dynamics in the ways they can abuse or ignore our needs. I am also painfully aware of the difficulty in proving this, and I empathize with those staff who have experienced this in the course of doing their jobs. In a human rights-based and just world, people should not be treated poorly for coming to work.

As the PCB, we have to support the culture change. For the past few years, we have expected UNAIDS to achieve the same level of work with a drastically reduced budget. We have to make accommodations in our expectations based on realistic assessments of jobs, positions, and assignments. We cannot ask UNAIDS to advocate for human rights on the one hand and then expect on the other that the staff work well above and beyond the normal work week and their assignments.

It is clear that mobility and transparency remain key concerns for the USSA. We need the right skills, the right standards and the right people doing the important work of UNAIDS. We look forward to seeing how these challenges are resolved with the appointment of the new Executive Director.

Finally, as someone living with HIV, I want to encourage UNAIDS to incorporate the GIPA principles more fully moving forward - not just with rhetoric but with action. We need to value the contribution of staff living with HIV and from key populations. The lived experiences of people living with HIV and other key populations are important in making the UNAIDS we need.

Photo from UNAIDS Communications and Global Advocacy


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