The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Principals met in New York on 31 May. A key part of their discussions focused on how we can collectively strengthen the humanitarian sector’s approach to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and sexual harassment and abuse (SHA). In his statement, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, outlines the commitments and progress on SEA/SHA made by the IASC Principals in this meeting.
Subsequent to their ad-hoc meeting of 15th March 2017, the IASC Principals endorsed this statement, outlining their concern and commitments around incidents of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse perpetrated against female aid workers by their colleagues in the workplace revealed by a Humanitarian Women’s Network survey.
Joint Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) statement on the post-World Humanitarian Summit period as agreed by the Principals during our last meeting from 7-8 June in Washington, D.C.
This statement indicates the IASC's collective commitment following the Summit to translate discussions on new ways of working together into action, strengthen alignment across the humanitarian-development nexus and promote a stronger role for local responders. It was agreed that the IASC would jointly focus more intensively on places of protracted need and prolonged conflict, as well as on crosscutting complex global thematic challenges like health crises or climate change. The IASC Principals will take these actions forward with immediate effect.
In response to apparent easing of the conflict in Syria in March 2016, the IASC Principals issued this collective call for peace and an end to suffering, including through improved humanitarian access.
On 11 December 2015, the IASC Principals adopted a statement affirming their commitment to actively prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers, and the role of the PSEA Senior Focal Points, Humanitarian Coordinators, and the Humanitarian Country Teams to implement this commitment in all humanitarian response operations. They re-affirmed their determination to eradicate acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel and actively respond to incidents that are perpetuated against their beneficiaries.
This statement affirms the commitment of the IASC Principals to ensuring the centrality of protection in humanitarian action and the role of Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Teams and Clusters to implement this commitment in all aspects of humanitarian action. It is part of a number of measures that are meant to ensure more effective protection of people in humanitarian crises.
Sexual violence is being systematically and rampantly used in conflict situations as a method of war to brutalize and instilinstill fear in the civilian population, especially women and girls. The individual and collective responsibility to respect the highest standards of the law and to fully comply with the UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13) must be re-emphasized. The IASC commits to urgent and concerted action aimed at preventing gender-based violence, in particular sexual violence, ensuring appropriate care and follow up for victims/survivors are accessible and working towards holding perpetrators accountable.
AIDS kills young adults, especially women, who are the backbone of their families and communities. It leaves behind orphans in large numbers with few prospects for a healthy future. Entire communities are collapsing under the strain of caring for the ill while maintaining productive livelihoods. Problems in governance, lack of appropriate agricultural policies and pervasiveness of poverty all contribute towards compounding the effects of the severe drought.
The IASC called for a concerted effort by the affected governments, donor governments and humanitarian and development agencies to: 1. Encourage leaders to adopt policies and strategies for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS that reach all segments of the population with particular focus on vulnerable groups, women, refugees and internally displaced persons 2. Raise awareness of the links between HIV/AIDS epidemic and famine 3. Encourage access to HIV/AIDS treatment, including anti-retroviral drugs for those infected with HIV, as feasible 4. Promote the human rights of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS including through strategies to combat stigma and discrimination 5. Consider incentives to encourage essential personnel to work in area of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, including salary supplements and access to HIV transmission prevention methods and AIDS care 6. Support government policies that encourage good governance, sound agricultural approaches and equitable sustainable development
An estimated five to 30 percent of cluster munitions fail to explode when fired or dropped, either penetrating below the ground on impact, or remaining on the surface. Those underground can seriously impede the safe cultivation of land and the development of infrastructure. From a humanitarian worker’s perspective, it is essential that Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) pollution be limited. Parties to conflict must be held accountable for the use, the clean-up and the long term effects of the weapons they employ. Based on the work in the field, the IASC is convinced that within the overall problem of ERW, cluster munitions pose an exceptional humanitarian threat both during and after conflict.
The IASC is concerned that the issue of cluster munitions has not been adequately addressed. Those who use cluster munitions are unable to prevent the negative impact that these weapons have on civilians both during and after conflict. The IASC members therefore call for an immediate freeze on the use of cluster munitions until effective legal remedies aimed at resolving humanitarian concerns are in place.
The factors contributing to the crisis in Southern Africa are numerous and vary from country to country. They include: drought, floods, disruptions to commercial farming, depletion of strategic grain reserves, poor economic performance, foreign exchange shortages and delays in the timely importation of maize. Inadequate food supply and consumption places an even greater strain on those affected by HIV/AIDS and the family members struggling to care for them. HIV/AIDS increases household vulnerability to food insecurity by disproportionately affecting working age people and reduces the amount and quality of land cultivated as well as incomes and purchasing power for those employed in other sectors. It also adds to the disease burden (tuberculosis, cholera and others) that the population faces along with the food insecurity.
In their statement, the IASC express their commitment to work with affected Governments and regional partners on multi-sectoral assessments of needs, the design of appropriate response strategies and in ensuring effective coordination of all interventions including logistics related to the delivery of urgently needed relief cargo.