UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2019-2020 Priorities and Initiatives as IASC Champion on Protection from SEA and SH (EN,ESP,FR)

Published Date

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.