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Welcome FCDO clarification that sexual relations between FCDO staff and ODA beneficiaries will be treated as potential gross misconduct

22 October 2020

Chair of the International Development Committee (IDC), Sarah Champion, has written to Minister Nigel Adams at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on the terms and conditions for FCDO “ODA staff” and safeguarding beneficiaries from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Concern about UK strategy

During oral questions to the FCDO on 13 October, Sarah expressed concern that the new UK strategy for safeguarding against sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector only “strongly discouraged” sexual relations between “ODA staff” and aid beneficiaries. In a letter of 16 October, Minister Adams confirmed that “some specific actions are considered unacceptable and will be treated as potential gross misconduct by the FCDO. This includes “sexual relationships between staff and beneficiaries/partners, as well as relationships based on inherently unequal power dynamics.” The International Development Committee welcomes this clarification. These measures are vital to protect aid beneficiaries around the world.

Further clarity sought

Further clarity is now being sought by the International Development Committee on the guidelines for ODA staff more generally. Sarah has therefore asked Minister Adams today:

  • Who is included within the category of “ODA staff” referred to in the UK Strategy: Safeguarding Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment within the Aid Sector;
  • Whether FCDO’s position, as clarified by you, will apply in other ODA spending departments to ensure that sexual relationships with beneficiaries are considered unacceptable and treated as gross misconduct across all of HMG.

Further information

Image: Crown Copyright