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Message from the UN in Viet Nam about Zero Tolerance against Sexual Harassment

Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam

“Sexual harassment offends the very principles of what we stand for as an Organization and undermines the core values of integrity, competence, and professionalism expected of all.”- Secretary-General António Guterres

As the courage of #MeToo speakers across the world forces a reconsideration of how violence against women is managed and ended, we express our solidarity with victims and with the pressure for change. This is as urgent in Viet Nam as it is in the rest of the world. For far too long, there has been denial and minimization of sexual abuse as well as negative consequences for victims who dare to name their experiences. These are gendered experiences: the majority of perpetrators are men and the majority of victims are women - a reflection of how power is distributed at home, at work, and in the public space.

There is a commitment as part of Agenda 2030, agreed by all states, to end violence against women by 2030. It is only right that we imagine and create a world free of violence. This will mean that we must all be part of the effort. It will require belief as a starting point, enabling victims to name what has happened to them without blame, stigmatization or humiliation. It will require a change of cultures in all workplaces and all organizations – whether public, private sector, civil society organizations, media or international organizations should practice zero tolerance with respect to violence or harassment of any kind. There should be consequences for those who choose to abuse and not comply. It cannot continue that sexually abusive behavior is considered as an inevitable part of the lives of those abused, whether women or men, something to be endured by victims no matter the personal cost to them. It will require both men and women to step up and raise their voices against sexual abuse - examining their own behavior, challenging abusers and supporting victims.

The United Nations (UN) in Viet Nam reaffirms its full commitment to the UN’s zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment. Zero tolerance means that even one case is one too many. We are committed to providing a work environment free from sexual harassment in which every staff is valued and respected. A harmonious, safe and respectful workplace is key to delivering on our mandate for the people we serve. We will ensure that allegations of sexual harassment are responded to swiftly, fairly and effectively.

We will also support and encourage Viet Nam to increase its efforts to break the culture of silence and impunity so that sexual harassment is not tolerated anytime, anywhere in Viet Nam, and that Vietnam’s laws and their implementation is in conformity with its international Human Rights commitments and obligations.