“Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment.
Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief regarding the age of a child is not a defence.
Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour is prohibited. This includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.
Any sexual relationship between those providing humanitarian assistance and protection and a person benefitting from such humanitarian assistance and protection that involves improper use of rank or position is prohibited. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work.
Where a humanitarian worker develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual abuse or exploitation by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, he or she must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms.
Humanitarian workers are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents sexual exploitation and abuse and promotes the implementation of their code of conduct. Managers at all levels have particular responsibilities to support and develop systems which maintain this environment.”
In December 2018, the IASC Championship Strategy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) outlined the vision of “a humanitarian environment in which people caught up in crises feel safe and respected and can access the protection and assistance they need without fear of exploitation or abuse, and in which aid workers themselves feel supported, respected and empowered to deliver such assistance in working environments free from sexual harassment.” Building on the work of previous Champions, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has identified the following three priorities for his Championship, which will run from September 2019 through to August 2020:
Bolstering prevention Eradicating sexual misconduct requires a swift and robust response to any allegation. At the same time, resolute efforts are necessary to prevent such abuses from happening in the first place. We need to ensure that every colleague understands his/her role in preventing and responding to SEA and SH and that the people we serve are aware of their rights to access protection and assistance free from SEA.
Expanding safe spaces It takes considerable courage for a victim/survivor to speak up and we must find every way possible to lighten this burden. This requires that we work together to address the many barriers to reporting, make a victim-centered approach not just a principle but a reality, and protect both survivors and witnesses.
Promoting a respectful use of authority Sexual misconduct is rooted in imbalances of power. We need to reflect on how we use power and privilege and ensure that we create workplaces of respect and accountability, where misconduct is not tolerated, and where senior management communicates, embodies and enforces ethical standards.
The following five initiatives are proposed, each addressing one or more of the outlined priorities.
Hold a session on values, culture and attitudes with IASC Principals: The self-reflective session is expected to be held at an upcoming IASC Principals meeting. It will use an experiential learning methodology and result in clear commitments from the Principals in the area of organizational and culture change to create workplaces of respect and accountability.
Make the IASC commitment more visible: IASC Principals have a responsibility to raise the issue of sexual misconduct at every opportune moment, especially when travelling on mission and engaging with colleagues. To facilitate such exchanges, which can be challenging, including in some specific cultural contexts, an engaging and thought-provoking communications package will be made available to IASC members. In addition, the High Commissioner welcomes a joint field mission with other IASC Principals and/or leaders in this area, to show the IASC commitment on SEA/SH in action, listen to victims and advocate for further mobilization.
Facilitate the sharing of good practices and resources on improving workplace culture: Recognizing the significant efforts undertaken by IASC members in this area, we will build on existing materials, and expand and disseminate them. The aim will be to support all IASC members to engage in reflective processes on individual and organizational culture and to foster working environments that are free from SEA and SH.
Develop an interagency training for partners on protection from sexual misconduct: In order to help all IASC members meet expected standards on protection from SEA and SH, we will work with IOM and other partners to adapt for interagency training purposes an innovative face-to face SEA learning package developed by IOM. The package will also include a component on addressing SH. A training module on SEA investigations will also be made available to all IASC members.
Establish a PSEA community outreach and communications fund: To support IASC members and affiliated partners lacking the resources and/or expertise to develop and disseminate PSEA outreach and communications materials, a fund will be set up to swiftly provide small grants at field-level. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have undertaken, in collaboration with communities, an analysis of their needs and preferred channels. Materials developed will be made available to all IASC members.
This paper summarizes actions undertaken by IASC members to protect from and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and sexual harassment and abuse (SHA). It reflects updated information from IASC partners, complementing the 31 May 2018 review of IASC Good Practices. Actions have been grouped according to the strategy endorsed by the IASC in December 2018, which identifies priorities under three main objectives. This summary aims to promote good practice and learning within the IASC and identify opportunities for collaboration, where possible, responding to calls for the IASC to “share and promote best practices on preventing, investigating, and responding to sexual harassment and assault ”.
In March 2018, the IASC acknowledged that all entities are facing similar issues and have come to a shared diagnosis. They agreed that the IASC should serve as a forum for information exchange and to share best practices across the sector.In May 2018, the IASC also called to “circulate the compendium of good practices and ensure that it is regularly updated”. At the IASC Senior Focal Points meeting with the ERC and the IASC Champion in November, the commitment to continue to document good practice was iterated, and participants agreed to share knowledge, good practices, and lessons learned. Only a snapshot of the extensive inputs submitted by IASC organizations is provided below; with the agreement of IASC Principals, the full record can be made available on the IASC website.
To provide rapid grants to IASC organizations and affiliated partners who lack access to sufficient dedicated or internal investigation capacity for cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse against beneficiaries or Sexual Harassment against Aid Workers.