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.
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.
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.