UN 24-Hour Helpline: A New Source to Empower Employees

By Janet Ekstract  March 18, 2018

NEW YORK- The United Nations to make good on its commitment to “zero tolerance” for abuse created a  new 24-hour helpline at the end of February, as a go-to resource for UN secretariat personnel to speak privately with an impartial party who is trained to deal with conflict situations where protection, support and reporting had previously fallen short.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, sent the news via e-mail to all UN staff members last month, citing the helpline as a method to identify and call out sexual harassment in the workplace. The hope is that personnel will be empowered to take action rather than remain silent on situations they consider either too delicate or too embarrassing to report.

The helpline is the latest part of the UN’s five-point plan to address questionable behavior within its ranks and will serve to enhance already existing reporting measures.

The Helpline is entitled “Speak Up” and will consist of a specialized team to focus on the investigation of sexual harassment and other workplace abuse claims with specific emphasis on female investigators, the secretary-general commented  at the end of February. Additional investigators are set to be recruited, according to Mr. Guterres.

He reiterated that the UN must be committed to promoting a workplace environment that is not only inclusive, where everyone is valued and respected – it must also be a place where security, contentment and civility remain key to conveying the mandates it has set out to achieve for the people and communities it serves.

As the secretary-general emphasized: “I reiterate my commitment to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and underline that harassment of any type is antithetical to the principles for which we stand as an organization.”

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