Many of our staff have been affected directly or indirectly by manifestations of racism and racial discrimination. It is incumbent upon us to examine and address racism and racial discrimination within our own organizations and in the humanitarian sector, including by expanding diversity at all levels in our workplaces, and fostering more inclusive and diverse ways of working.
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.
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.