Launch of the IASC Best Practice Guide on Inter-agency Complaint Mechanisms

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)

Overview: Sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers undermines the integrity of humanitarian work, inflicting significant harm on people when they are at their most vulnerable. Eradicating such acts represents a critical element of our accountability to affected people. Failure to address the issue quickly and decisively erodes the trust of the communities we serve.

In recent years, the humanitarian community has taken positive steps to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse. This includes cooperation in an IASC project to address the need for guidance on creating inter-agency complaint mechanisms in humanitarian settings that are safe, efficient, and sustainable. In close cooperation with UNHCR and Save the Children, and with the support of the IASC Task Team on AAP and PSEA, IOM coordinated a pilot project that established community-based complaint mechanisms (CBCM) in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The lessons learned from these pilots were used to develop a Best Practice Guide and Global Standard Operating Procedures. Endorsed in June 2016 by the IASC Principals, these documents will serve as powerful tools to assist Humanitarian Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Team members to set up SEA prevention and response systems in humanitarian settings.

Panel Discussion: The panel will include presentations from the IASC Champion on PSEA (IOM) and senior-level representatives from the European Union, the Office for the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Save the Children. Panel members will discuss the importance of collective action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, particularly the need for active and meaningful participation in CBCMs, which will be followed by questions and comments from the audience.


Moderator: Luc Ferran, Director of Ethics and Compliance Unit, IRC


Presentations from the panelists (each about 10-12 minutes)

William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General and IASC Champion on PSEA

  • Introduction to the guide and next steps

Eduardo Fernandez-Zincke, Counsellor and Head of Section Humanitarian Affairs, European Union- Topic

  • EU perspective on the importance of establishing SEA prevention and response systems in all humanitarian settings

Debra Jones, Director and UN Representative, Save the Children

  • Lessons learned from using the guidelines for child protection and peacekeeping operations in the DRC

Andrew Painter, Senior Policy Advisor, UNHCR

  • Global SOPs, operationalizing PSEA initiatives, and setting up an inter-agency complaint mechanism in a refugee context


Discussion questions:

  • How can we ensure that these tools are actually used?
  • What needs to be done at the collective level, and at the individual agency level, to ensure that joint CBCMs are systematically applied in all emergency response operations?


Next Steps: The event will conclude by highlighting action necessary to roll out these tools, and facilitate replication of CBCMs in all humanitarian settings.

Event Date: 
Thursday, September 29, 2016 -
13:15 to 14:30
Conference Room 7, Conference Building, United Nations, New York