In a global meeting of PSEA experts held in spring 2008 in New York, it was agreed that the work to address sexual exploitation and abuse would be organised under four pillars: Engagement with and support of local populations; Prevention; Response; and Management and Coordination.
Engagement with local populations
Most of the work in protection from sexual exploitation and abuse is done on the ground at the country level. Engaging local populations and having support locally is a crucial element in succeeding in this work. This involves, for instance, raising awareness in local communities, implementing effective complaints mechanisms and encouraging local populations to report incidents.
Key to prevention and response is raising understanding among local populations about their rights and entitlements (such as beneficiaries’ entitlement to aid without any requirement for sexual favours), the prohibition against humanitarian, development and peacekeeping personnel engaging in such acts and how to report it when it occurs. Specific tasks may include the development and delivery of information sheets, posters, videos and trainings in order to properly inform staff and local populations.
Building Effective Complaints Mechanisms
A major element in engaging with the local population is building effective complaints mechanisms. In order to establish a safe, accessible and confidential complaints mechanism (i.e. system for receiving allegations or rumours of SEA), the local community in each geographical area must be engaged in designing it. A complaints mechanism should be common to all actors in a given locale, allow for a range of means of receiving complaints, be developed in consultation with the communities and be confidential and safe.
Prevention is a crucial element in protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. This entails activities including:
PSEA experts also work to establish partnerships among government, civil society and the media in order to identify important allies in tackling the problem.
Response systems need to be in place to properly handle allegations of SEA that are brought to the attention of personnel of the UN, NGOs and other international organizations. Such systems include for instance:
Complaints procedures for staff and other personnel
Each UN, NGO and international organizations' office should have internal complaints procedures so that personnel can report instances of sexual exploitation and abuse and such reports can be properly referred for investigation and assistance to the victims.
Investigation procedures and capacity
Strengthening investigation procedures and capacity constitutes and important element of the effort to address SEA.
Disciplinary action and sanctions
It is important that disciplinary actions and sanctions are taken seriously and instituted against perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Victim assistance mechanisms
In each country, there should be one victim assistance mechanism serving all survivors of SEA by personnel of the UN, NGO and other international organizations. A guide has been produced to assist with the development and operation of the mechanism.
Management and coordination
Activating inter-agency PSEA focal point networks
A network on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse should be operational in every country, include focal points from each UN entity, NGO and international organization on the ground including the Conduct and Discipline Unit if a peacekeeping mission is present, and function under and report to the Resident Coordinator in countries with a Resident Coordinator. Each country-level network is responsible for developing an action plan for addressing SEA in the country.
Strengthening management’s fulfilment of its PSEA responsibilities
NGOs, international organizations and the UN system have a shared responsibility to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel. Managers, supervisors, commanders and anyone sitting in a leadership level have a key role to play in this regard. To enhance managers’ commitment and knowledge to work on the issue, PSEA experts have developed tools to assist managers in their efforts. (To view these tools, see the Tools Repository.)
Inserting SGB standards into contractual arrangements
As noted in the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on PSEA, every UN entity should include SGB standards in contractual arrangements with other entities and individuals. NGOs and international organisations should endeavour to do the same.
Adherence to monitoring/compliance mechanisms
Every UN entity, NGO and international organizations should adhere to applicable monitoring/compliance mechanisms. As an example of a monitoring/compliance mechanism, HAP, in partnership with Save the Children UK, is currently developing the Inspectorate Project. The Inspectorate project will create a PSEA Accountability Standard, through a consultative process, that offers a means for agencies to measure, validate and improve their PSEA activities. Agencies will be assessed against their ability to meet their own commitments to prevent abuse, such as internal and external codes of conduct, victim support policies, staff rules and regulations, etc. The aim is to help agencies and inter-agency projects define their PSEA strategy; identify what they are doing well and highlight the gaps in their strategy through an external baseline. Once the baseline has been defined, HAP can then advise on and provide targeted support to agencies to improve their work and attain certification against PSEA Standard.