46th PCB - Intervention by Wangari Tharao - Agenda 10: Statement by the representative of the UNAIDS Secretariat Staff Association

Delivered by Wangari Tharao, North America, on behalf of the PCB NGO Delegation

We all understand the importance of a strong and accountable UNAIDS, particularly in the current context of COVID-19. We recall the recent history of turmoil and crisis of credibility the organization has been through and the fundamental role of staff in all rebuilding efforts. The Statement of the Representative of the UNAIDS Staff Association (USSA) is a good measure of the progress made in the implementation of the Management Action Plan (MAP).

Though the USSA statement shows improvement in a number of areas, we focus on 4 issues that require urgent attention:

1) Issues around COVID-19 and any return to work strategies are highlighted as a major concern for staff. Supporting staff wellbeing is paramount during this trying time. We are gratified that the staff request for accommodation to continue working remotely where necessary, will be considered as indicated by Winnie in her ED report. This is a good safety and cost saving measure.

2) Lack of fairness and transparency which may enable favoritism, continue to be an issue, particularly in areas of recruitment, promotion, and job mobility. These issues have been at the core of staff dissatisfaction for several years. The NGO Delegation is concerned that this continues to persist. We call for expedited implementation of the MAP to eliminate the problem.

3) Increasing workload is identified as a growing problem. This has worsened compared to what was reported in 2019. We were very disheartened yesterday when Winnie indicated that one of the strategies for dealing with budget shortfall is leaving vacancies unfilled. Overwork may lead to stress, low morale, decreased motivation, lower productivity and poor health. We call on UNAIDS to fill vacant positions and explore other ways of eliminating the budget deficit.

4) Issues of discrimination, incivility and gender discrimination and abuse of authority continue to persist. To understand better which staff are impacted by these issues specifically, we call on USSA to disaggregate the data further to highlight how race and gender across the gender spectrum may influence survey responses. UNAIDS can use the generated information to build a more robust staff capacity building and support program.

We are heartened to see discussions of race and racism emerge at this PCB meeting in alignment with what is happening globally. With enriched data, the USSA survey can help inform these discussions.

The NGO Delegation calls for strategic, concerted, and expedited efforts to deal with all identified issues to ensure a fair, healthy, and enabling work environment for staff.


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