Tackling SEA and SH together through the IASC
Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) are core commitments of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), and in May 2018 the IASC Principals reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering efforts on PSEA, as articulated in the Chair’s statement. The IASC vision is of a humanitarian environment in which crisis-affected persons feel safe and respected, and can access the protection and assistance they need without fear of exploitation or abuse by any aid worker. This is also a world in which aid workers themselves feel supported, respected and empowered to deliver such assistance in working environments free from sexual harassment.
On 18 October, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Mr. Mark Lowcock, attended the “Putting People First: Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and Sexual Harassment in the Aid Sector” Summit in London. He emphasized the role of the IASC and the SEA/SH Champions to amplify shared leadership and collective responsibility. The IASC is promoting a ‘speak-up’ culture, establishing community-based complaint mechanisms across more than 30 countries, and strengthening investigation capacity. The ERC’s comments at the Summit can be found here. The final outcome summary from Summit can also be located here.
Collective, joined-up action is essential for the IASC to effectively deliver on its SEA commitments. The role of the IASC Champion on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) is to provide sustained and visible leadership. This year UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, has taken up the role. The IASC Champion’s Strategy sets out three priorities through June 2020:
1. Encouraging victims to come forward and a speak-up culture
2. Improving quality, survivor-centered support and protection
3. Strengthened vetting, reference-checking, investigation processes and disciplinary measures,
As part of the strategy, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Management, Mr. Jan Beagle and the ERC co-chaired a meeting of investigatory bodies to harmonize standards, strengthen capacities and ensure that allegations of sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment are met with a robust investigative process incorporating on a victim centered approach.
The web page of the IASC Senior Focal Points on Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment is regularly updated. You can access it here.