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Humanitarian sector gets 12-step approach to battling sexual exploitation

The UK’s umbrella body for development charities has published a 12-step approach to dealing with issues in the aid sector

A 12-step approach to tackling exploitation in the aid sector has been designed to help charities deal with complaints and expel abusers from vulnerable countries.

The umbrella body for international development charities, Bond, has designed the commitment report to ensure that organisations are addressing complaints about abuse quickly and effectively prevent abusers from joining the sector.

“Every link in the chain of international development and humanitarian assistance must be strong and consistent when it comes to safeguarding and we will play an integral part in ensuring that happens,” the commitment report said.

The report was launched to coincide with the international safeguarding summit in the UK, which was run by the Department for International Development in response to a number of scandals that have hit the sector this year.

Its 12 commitments will focus on supporting survivors of abuse and increasing the accountability of organisations through rigorous reporting and complaints processes, monitoring progress and ensuring victims are at the heart of safeguarding responses.

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Judith Brodie, told Third Sector UK: “We have a stronger understanding of where the inconsistencies and the gaps are when it comes to reporting and handling incidents, as well as what we must do to address them.”

Bond’s members have worked over the last seven months to improve safeguarding policies and practices by building on the best examples from the aid and UK domestic sector. Civil organisations will ensure that they are implementing the highest standards of safeguarding, built around a survivor-centred approach.

The Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies (CADA), an international civil society network, said: “We fully endorse the commitments and urge all our members to implement them as fully as possible in their own work.”

The commitment report will value transparency and continuously review the scope of regulated activity under UK legislation. It will also develop proposals to governments on a wider definition of regulated activity for employees in the sector.

Technology will also be improved, including how aid workers register and ensure that there is a rapid mobilisation of aid workers for humanitarian interventions through the use of innovative technologies, such as blockchain. The plan includes collaborating with investors and technology providers to build the best processes.

“This is about significant and sustainable change for the long term,” Brodie said. “Our 12 commitments show we are raising the bar on safeguarding but this isn’t just about words – our commitments are backed by much-needed attention.”

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