AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges UN Secretary-General António Guterres to immediately dismiss Michel Sidibé from his position as Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). The Program Coordinating Board’s inaction to remove Sidibé during this week’s meeting in Geneva is deplorable and an insult to staff who have been subjected to sexual harassment and bullying during his tenure at UNAIDS.
Sidibé told the PCB he will step down in June 2019 giving him an opportunity to dictate the terms of his departure. This is unacceptable given the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report concluded that he led a secretariat that “fails to accept responsibility for a culture of impunity becoming prevalent in the organisation, a culture that does not ensure a safe and dignified workplace for its staff, and one that fails to respect human rights in line with law and United Nations values.”
The world has watched as Sidibé has made excuses and implemented last-ditch strategies to save face, such as the “5+ Point Plan” that lacks “an understanding of the gravity of the situation at UNAIDS” and “is suited to a workplace where the culture of respect is to be maintained rather than one where dignity, due process and equality have been compromised,” according to the IEP.
The time for acquiescence and compromise should come to an end. AHF applauds the resolve of the Swedish Government to take a principled position to suspend funding to UNAIDS until Sidibé is removed. His mismanagement and failures to legitimately address multiple complaints and allegations of sexual harassment and abuse cannot be overlooked. Other UNAIDS donors should follow Sweden’s example.
AHF recognizes the work that UNAIDS contributes to the global AIDS response, but that has unfortunately been overshadowed by Sidibé’s insistence to remain in his position to the detriment of the Joint Programme and its staff. AHF urges Secretary-General Guterres to immediately replace Sidibé with a leader who can begin to transform the culture at UNAIDS and refocus it back on the mission of defeating HIV/AIDS around the world.
Secretary-General Guterres, people living with HIV/AIDS do not have the luxury of waiting another six months until Sidibé chooses to vacate at his convenience. We urge you to act now – lives are at stake!
For more information, please contact Ged Kenslea at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 791-5526