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Government commits to withdraw funding from aid giants with poor safeguarding practices

6 April 2021

In its response to the International Development Committee’s report, Progress on tackling the sexual exploitation and abuse of aid beneficiaries, the Government has confirmed that it will not fund any multilateral organisation whose safeguarding procedures it considers inadequate. However, the recent report into sexual exploitation at the Global Fund may pose a challenge to this assertion.

The Government has also accepted several other recommendations by the IDC. It confirmed that it has agreed to support the UN Trust Fund for Victims and the Committee looks forward to receiving more detail on this. The IDC is pleased to hear that the UK has co-led work to place additional requirements on the World Health Organisation following the recent exploitation that took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The new programme of support for survivors recently announced and commitments to work with community-based organisations to provide that support is also welcome.

During the inquiry, the IDC paid tribute to the former Department for International Development (DFID) and its work in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse. It therefore recommended that the new department, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, should adopt many of DFID’s practices. The Government accepted these recommendations, ranging from enforcing the enhanced safeguarding due diligence procedures, include a specific section on safeguarding in annual reports, and for DFID’s approach on safeguarding investigations to be built on.

However, the IDC is disappointed that some recommendations are not being carried forwards by the Government. There is still to be no audit of whistleblowing practices, the FCDO will not require partners to publish case data and the IDC received no commitment from the Government to use the Strategic Vision for Gender Equality to inform its prioritisation of future work.

Commenting on the Government response, International Development Committee Chair, Sarah Champion MP, said:

“In many ways, the Government’s response to our Committee’s report on sexual exploitation and abuse is a step in the right direction. I am pleased to hear that many of the practices championed by DFID are being taken forwards, and I really hope that the FCDO builds on this platform.

“Our Committee wanted to look again at sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector as there must be zero tolerance for exploitation of some of the world’s most vulnerable. It is disappointing that the Government will not be taking forwards measures such as requiring organisations to report abuse case data and auditing the whistle-blower practices of partners as these would have assured greater protections.

“Our Committee will continue monitoring the sector’s progress on combating sexual exploitation and abuse and providing support to victims and survivors. We will continue to robustly challenge the Government if we feel it is not doing enough to work with partners to tackle this once and for all.”

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