Fight against sexual harassment: It’s time for a #UNToo movement

Launch of the Group of Friends to Eliminate Sexual Harassment
Introductory remarks by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
13 September 2018

Dear colleagues,

It’s a great pleasure for my staff - Raphael Dang in particular – and me to welcome you this afternoon to launch this new Group of Friends to eliminate sexual harassment. We are truly impressed with the very large crowd, which I believe says a lot, more actually than any words, about the critical importance of the issue we are dealing with. So many thanks from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you.

Let me express a very special word of thanks and welcome to USG Beagle for accepting our invitation to be the first briefer of this new Group of Friends. It is a great privilege to count on your presence here and we are aware, chère Mme Beagle, of your personal commitment, alongside the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, to leading the concrete fight against sexual harassment within the UN system - and we are all very grateful to you for this.

It’s a privilege also to welcome the other three founding members of the Group, Kenya and Israel - who are the co-penholders of the CSW resolution on sexual harassment - and the Netherlands - with whom we are facilitating the Third Committee resolution on Violence against Women. So the four of us, the four countries, are cofounding this group. I want to thank my three colleagues, with a particular word of appreciation to the DPRs of these countries, who have been instrumental from the beginning in making this initiative possible.

The reason why we are all here is our common aspiration, not only to talk but to get real achievements. There was the “metoo” movement, now it’s the time for the “UNtoo” movement.

It is about justice and indeed about facilitating a major cultural change. And we all know and see that the fight against sexual harassment is a daily fight – internationally and within our respective countries as well. Harassment can happen in many different contexts, notably at work but also in the streets – and to give you an example France’s Minister for Gender Equality is working on tackling that issue, harassment on the street, with new and ambitious measures. At work, harassment is most often related to a very condemnable abuse of authority. That is why a changed environment is needed in all work places, which is close to a cultural revolution should I say. Yes, sexual harassment is a forbidden form of violence that should be condemned and treated and combatted as such. And that is also why effective mechanisms have to be put in place for victims to be able to speak the truth with full confidence, to speak out about those acts of violence. It is the beginning of everything. It is an indispensable step towards accountability and justice. I don’t want to say too much about the substance of the issue since I know that Mme Beagle will present the very important steps taken by the SG and yourself in this regard.

We could speak at length about definitions and specific wording – and that would be an interesting and important discussion actually. But we first and foremost need to take action. That’s what this group of friends is all about. We now are a team, a team of commando fighters should I say, fighting for one common and vital objective: to eliminate sexual harassment. We all know it’s not easy, we all know it will be a daily fight but if we can join efforts, in the diversity of our countries, we can be a driving force for change and good to support this vital cause.

In order to try and make a real difference, we propose to create a place where best practices could be exchanged, challenged and inspire concrete policies. We are talking about your own ideas and initiatives of course, about national frameworks, UN initiatives and processes but also about civil society initiatives and mechanisms created by private companies in particular who are also working as we speak on these issues. All of them could be invited to speak in the format of this Group of Friends.

Here at the mission, we are working very hard on a methodology to keep harassment from happening. You will find on the table flyers that we have made and distributed to everyone working at the mission under the leadership of my Deputy, the DPR Anne Gueguen, who could not be with us (…). .

I hope you will all join the Group of Friends and join our fight against sexual harassment. You can register by simply signing in the last column of the contact list which is being circulated as we speak. I stop here, otherwise you will not accept my invitation in the future, and I know give the floor to Karel, and then to Noa, Lazarus and Mme Beagle before opening the floor to further discussions. Karel, je te donne la parole./.

Dernière modification : 24/10/2019

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