Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Launch of the IASC Best Practice Guide on Inter-Agency Complaint Mechanisms
Brief summary of presentation of information made
Representaive of IOM
The manual arises out of pilot projects. It allows complaints to be made confidentially. It sets out global standard operating procedures and includes operational tips on how to collaborate with other agencies on SEA reports. It assists humanitarian agencies to fulfil their obligations to women and girls who are the most vulnerable and need protection. It is available in English and French and is expected to be available on the IOM and IASC website within a few weeks. Further translations are proposed. IOM is working with agencies for the training of humanitarian workers. It is expected to be operational in all humanitarian situations.
Representative from European Union Department of Humanitarian Aid
The manual follows pilots by IOM in how to set up an inter-agency system of reporting. It helps ensure the rights of victims and prevents perpetrators of SEA being hired by other organisations. It presents global systems that can be replicated on the ground by different countries. Donors should be involved with the system to aid sustainability of the system.
DRC Representative of Save the Children
DRC the site of one of the pilots. Armed troops are often the principal perpetrators of SEA but abuse by humanitarian workers does happen, although this is very small in comparison to the total number of offences. However, IDP camps should be places of safety.
Vulnerability can be when fetching water, walking to school and other times when not protected within the camp. Displaced children who have been separated from their parents particularly need to be considered.
The pilot in 2015/16 involved 12 IDP camps in DRC involving 20 different agencies and 60,000 IDPs.
The results of the pilot included awareness raising to the issue of SEA and training of 10 national NGOs in prevention and codes of conduct. Also noted was interagency training of their members and strengthening of the community raising awareness.
Issues raised included resource allocation priorities, the lack of obligation of agencies to report the SEA or act on the reports, and protection of the vulnerable complainant.
Lessons learnt included the need for training of investigators of complaints, the need for a central database for the reports, the need for a strong community understanding of the SEA reporting mechanism and the need for a recognition of the long term nature of behavior change, which needs continued reinforcement and continued protection of the victims.
Challenges faced in implementation include the prioritization of protection from SEA, interagency cooperation, sustainability at local, national and global level.
Standards of Practice includes teaching of all agency workers how to collaborate with other agencies.
Senior Policy Advisor for UNHCR
Interagency discussion led to the pilots and the Standards of Practice.
The Ethiopia was conducted in 2014 at a camp for Somali refugees and was extended into a 2nd similar camp. It was considered a success.
The aims were to raise the awareness of staff and the community to SEA, provide a system to allow refugees to raise concerns, and to provide victims with follow up services-protection, medical etc.
The key achievement was the establishment of an interagency complaint procedure. 90 complaints were lodged (few involved SEA) and community representation was seen in the lodging of complaints.
Lessons learnt included the need for continued awareness raising for both new arrivals and reinforcement, the need for leadership involvement to push as a priority, the need for partnership with the refugee community, the government and interagency cooperation, capacity building for the SOPs so that all know the procedures to be followed, the need for continued resourcing for sustainability and the need for a central point for monitoring and tracking complaints.
The guide provides practical and principled advice for agency workers on the ground.
These global Standard Operating Procedures fill an important gap and avoid constant negotiation between agencies that each have their own different policies. It does not negate the responsibility of investigation into the complaint by the agency of their own staff.
It helps avoid the loss or confusion over the complaints and increases trust between agencies.
It encourages complainants to come forward as it is an easy, consistent and reliable system giving the person confidence to report.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
All those working in emergency and development work need to be aware of the guide and the standards of practice.
Web links for more information
https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/accountability-affected-populations-including-protection-sexual-exploitation-and-abuse/documents-50 - guide availableTags: SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG5: Gender Equality, SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals, SDG2: Zero Hunger