NGOs Pledge Further Steps to Tackle Abuse by Staff

Geneva, 27 March 2018 - Members of the U.S.-based NGO alliance InterAction have vowed to strengthen efforts to eliminate sexual abuse within their organizations and areas of operation.

The InterAction CEO pledge seeks to strengthen "ways to empower staff and the communities in which we work to report all incidents without fear of reprisal or punishment." Photo © EU/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie (detail). One hundred and sixteen organizations have signed a CEO Pledge on Preventing Sexual Abuse, Exploitation and Harassment by and of NGO Staff published on 28 March. The pledge underlines the signatories' commitment to strengthen existing - and implement new - practices and policies protecting both staff and those they serve.

The pledge "sets out a series of promises from NGOs leaders [who] commit to strengthening the implementation of the policies we have already, and to work together to find common solutions to the challenges that remain," said InterAction President Lindsay Coates. The alliance has over 180 members, including NGOs both small and large, faith-based and secular, working in every developing country.

The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) is a member of InterAction and one of the signatories of the pledge, which aims to ensure greater transparency in addition to observing current standards and legal frameworks.

"ICMC already has and implements a strict Code of Conduct as well as ethical procedures to ensure the safety and dignity of beneficiaries and staff," said Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, ICMC Secretary-General. "We welcome this joint pledge, however, as an opportunity to maintain and strengthen implementation of these standards and to communicate this commitment to our beneficiaries, partners, and colleagues," he added. 

The signatories vow to establish working environments free from sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment through comprehensive reviews and revamping of policy and practice where necessary as well as more transparent reporting.

The signatories also commit to finding further ways to empower staff and members of communities served to flag any misconduct confidentially, without fear of reprisal or punishment.

The pledge outlines the NGO leaders' intent to ensure greater accountability with regards to collaborating with partner organizations, terminating and preventing re-employment of perpetrators, and making organizational policies and reporting more visible.

The CEOs have committed their organizations to providing increased medical and psychosocial support where needed and putting into place more inclusive policies. They also promised to fight discrimination, harassment and abuse within the communities they serve and among their personnel.