17 October 2019

Today, the International Development Select Committee (IDC) published their Follow-up: sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector report. 

Responding to the report's conclusions, Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, the UK network for NGOs, said: 

"We value the IDC’s commitment to working with all sectors and DFID to improve safeguarding practices, however, it is a shame that months of hard work from the NGO sector to up its game across a wide range of aspects of safeguarding seems to have been overlooked in the committee’s report."

"The work that Bond has been doing with our members has focused first and foremost on making sure NGOs know what to do when handling complaints, reporting safeguarding incidents, recruitment, transparency, as well as supporting improved governance, leadership, and culture."

"As Bond stated in a letter to the IDC in May:

“Whistleblowing mechanisms exist for instances when established reporting mechanisms fail and work as a last resort if reporting by the survivor or victim has failed. They are not a substitute for effective reporting mechanisms embedded in organisational cultures which have safeguarding at their core. People first and foremost need to feel safe enough to report abuse.”

"In taking urgent action the sector inevitably had to choose priorities. In the case of reporting and accountability, we had to prioritise helping NGOs to get stronger and comprehensive systems established for report-handling now, rather than focussing on an audit of what has been in place for whistleblowing in the past. Whistleblowing is an essential component of safeguarding, but we know it is a last resort, usually used where reporting by the survivor or victim has failed. It shouldn’t be the first option for reporting abuse: victims and survivors first and foremost need to feel safe enough to report abuse to organisations, have easily-accessible ways of doing so and be confident that their report will be acted upon swiftly and appropriately. This is why NGOs have focussed on improved reporting and responding over this past year, rather than just whistleblowing alone: because strong safeguarding reporting systems within organisations are the best way to support victims and survivors when they need it most."

"Bond has used all of its communication channels to promote greater transparency on safeguarding through annual reports extensively, and we expect to see more and more NGOs including this information in their upcoming 2018/19 annual reports. As a voluntary membership body and not a regulatory body such as the Charity Commission, we simply do not have the authority to make this compulsory or force NGOs to share the numbers of allegations received and the outcome with us."

"We welcome the Committee’s focus on safeguarding and are committed to working with both parliament and the Department for International Development in tackling sexual abuse and exploitation in the aid and development sector head-on."

ENDS

  1. Bond has been working with NGOs and DFID to develop a number of tools to help NGOs prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment across the international development sector. More information about the progress that has been made by the sector on  work can be found here: https://www.bond.org.uk/safeguarding-our-progress
  2. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
  3. For further information please contact Maryam Mohsin, [email protected] or 07555 336029