Oxfam Apologizes for UN Climate Talks Incident

The plenary setting with name plates for country participants during the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. Oxfam International has issued apology for an incident that happened during the event involving one of its staff. Photo by: UN Climate Talks / CC BY-NC-ND UN Climate TalksCC BY-NC-ND

Oxfam International has issued an apology to Saudi Arabia and the secretariat and members of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change for an incident that took place during the climate change meetings in Bonn, Germany in June.

The incident involved two employees of the World Wildlife Fund and an Oxfam staff member, who the organization said did not actively take part in the act but was present when it happened. One of the WWF employees reportedly took and vandalized the nameplate for Saudi Arabia and circulated photos of the vandalized nameplate around the convention center.

“The act itself was offensive, inexcusable and inappropriate. It broke UN rules that govern NGO behavior,” Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said in a news release. “Oxfam has apologized to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to the UNFCCC and its members. Proper staff procedures broke down and we were too slow to respond.”

Hobbs added that Oxfam has commissioned an independent review of its management systems and internal controls to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

The Oxfam employee has been suspended, according to the news release.

“We hope that the UNFCCC and its members will accept our apologies and draw a line under this incident and not let it become a distraction to the job at hand,” Hobbs noted.

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.