UK Context

UK Context

Following the reports of abuse in the international development and humanitarian assistance sector early in 2018, the sector has committed to transform safeguarding standards, pledging to improve safeguarding at a high level Safeguarding Summit held at Westminster on 5 March 2018. This summit was attended by the Secretary of State for International Development and invited senior representatives of leading NGOs. From Scotland, Claire Tynte-Irvine attended from the Scottish Government along with Jude Turbyne from OSCR and Jane Salmonson from the Alliance.   From the summit there were important outputs to carry forward the commitment. A joint pledge was signed by 32 organisations and four working groups were established to take forward particular areas of work to drive forward improved safeguarding practice. 
The four working groups were coordinated/managed by BOND in close liaison with the Department for International Development (Now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Ofice - FCDO) and were convened following the March Summit. These specialist groups were made up of representatives and specialists across the international development sector and covered the following areas which were identified as priorities at the Summit: 
  1. Accountability to people we work with 
  2. Organisational culture 
  3. The employment cycle 
  4. Reports and complaints mechanisms 
Each group was tasked with producing a short report outlining their analysis of the current state of policy and practice, their vision for change, and the range of possible solutions. Between March and October 2018, the working groups collaborated on a series of projects and developed guidance  to improve safeguarding practices across these themes. 
On 18 October 2018, the UK government hosted Putting people first: tackling sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the aid sector. This was an international conference, held in London, to drive collective action to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment in the aid sector. Representatives from NGOs, multilateral organisations, private sector suppliers, donors, governments, beneficiaries, survivors and victims, parliamentarians; independent experts, and law enforcement agencies attended. 
At this conference, Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt MP, announced a range of measures to be introduced by the UK Government.  Please see the summary of the outcomes of the Summit and an overview of the highlights. It is proposed to base improvement on four long term fundamental changes: 
  • ensure support for survivors, victims and whistle-blowers; enhance accountability and transparency; strengthen reporting; and tackle impunity 
  • incentivise cultural change through strong leadership, organisational accountability and better human resource processes 
  • adopt global standards and ensure they are met or exceeded 
  • strengthen organisational capacity and capability across the international aid sector to meet these standards 
BOND has produced its commitments to change in safeguarding

Safeguarding Unit, FCDO

An FCDO (formerly DFID) Safeguarding Unit was created in February 2018, which is focusing on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. The goal of the Unit is to improve safeguarding standards across the aid sector – to ensure all those engaged in poverty reduction take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from happening in the first place, listen to those who are affected when it does, respond robustly but sensitively and learn from every case. FCDO hosted an international safeguarding summit on 18 October, bringing together organisations from across the sector to commit to root to branch change in the way the sector operates. The UK will continue to play a leadership role on this agenda, putting beneficiaries and survivors at the heart of what we do, and will work closely with civil society partners, including through a Resource and Support Hub launched in May 2020.    

Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub 

At the Safeguarding Summit on October 18 2018, the establishment of a Resource and Support Hub was announced.  FCDO has contracted this to Options, to be the lead supplier in a consortium of organisations to deliver the Resource and Support Hub. Options lead a diverse consortium consisting of Social Development Direct, Terres des hommes, Sightsavers and GCPS Consulting.
The Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub was launched in May 2020 and details are on their website.

The Hub will support smaller, under resourced organisations in developing countries who deliver international aid to strengthen their safeguarding policy and practice against  Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH). It will be a primarily online interface, with a secretariat consisting of a small team of multidisciplinary SEAH experts. 




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