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Save The Children proposes ways to tackle concerns about aid sector

Monday, February 12

Save the Children has put forward measures to improve standards of professional conduct within the aid sector following controversy over Oxfam’s handling of an inquiry into claims of sexual misconduct by its workers.

Save the Children CEO Kevin Watkins said: “As an organisation, and as a sector, we have a moral responsibility to protect the vulnerable children and adults we come into contact with.

“We also have a responsibility to the UK public and to the government to ensure that we meet the highest standards, not just in financial reporting, but in the behaviour we expect of our staff. These are tests of leadership – and I am wholly committed to putting Save the Children at the forefront of efforts to tackle the current crisis.”

Save the Children’s initiatives to address the current crisis include:

  • To establish a Global Centre of Excellence for Child Safeguarding in Emergencies; Save the Children has already proposed to the UK government the creation of rapidly deployable response teams, with the expertise needed to respond to warning signs of sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse, whether by NGOs or by UN Peacekeepers. It envisages the Centre as a collaborative exercise bringing together the best research institutes, NGOs and the UK government’s Department for International Development. 
  • To create ‘humanitarian passports’: any staff members reprimanded or dismissed for sexual harassment, bullying and a failure of protection are identified and cannot disappear back into the system. Establishing a common registry and passport system would identify if all necessary background checks have been carried out and retain details of all previous conduct. Save the Children is already working with Interpol to strengthen the criminal records checking system, globally.
  • To automatically designate employment in a humanitarian agency as ‘regulated’ activity under UK law; this would allow the aid sector to conduct the highest level of criminal records check on all staff, and there would be a commensurate legal obligation to report any dismissals.

Mr Watkins said: “Organisations in the UK such as ours are staffed overwhelmingly by committed people trying to make a difference. We owe it to them to ensure that our organisation reflects the values and promotes the behaviours they bring to work every day. I am also acutely aware of our responsibilities to DFID and the UK public.”

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