Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse


Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers and other actors engaged in assisting the most vulnerable populations, is everyone's responsibility.

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
November 18, 2016 Accountability

Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs), Humanitarian Country Team members (HCTs), humanitarian workers and donors – all have a responsibility to ensure the protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) in every aspect of a humanitarian operation. 


During its missions and webinars, the STAIT has identified that strong leadership is critical to tackling sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers. The 2015 IASC Statement on PSEA further stresses the importance of strong humanitarian leadership as one of three practical steps to combat SEA by humanitarian workers. Additional steps include, (a) fully implement the agreed Minimum Operating Standards and (b) strengthen investigation and protection responses to SEA allegations. 

"It is everyone's duty to actively engage in eradicating these abhorrent acts."

In STAIT’s recent webinars on PSEA (available in English and French), the Director General of the International Office for Migration (IOM), HC for the Central African Republic (CAR) and, HC ad interim for CAR, shared practical steps humanitarian field leaders should utilise, in the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse.  Some key practical steps are:

•    Define roles, responsibilities, and lines of accountability at the most senior level (Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Humanitarian Coordinators, and Humanitarian Country Teams), while also ensuring that PSEA is discussed regularly by the HCT.

•    Establish a PSEA Task Force with dedicated leadership, that reports directly to the Humanitarian Coordinator and/or Resident Coordinator. 

•    Ensure awareness is raised consistently and frequently across the humanitarian community. This includes ensuring humanitarian actors sign a code of conduct to follow up on prevention and mitigation efforts.

•    Develop a common reporting platform to facilitate the alignment of Code of Conducts, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), data collection, and incident tracking, across humanitarian actors to ensure the confidentiality of victims. In the case of integrated mission settings, ensure systematic coordination between the two entities.

•    Ensure transparent communication with the media, on the prevention of and response to SEA, by humanitarian actors and peacekeeping personnel.

Together these steps can help Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Team members, and humanitarian workers - at all levels - strengthen collective efforts to prevent and address SEA.

To learn more about how to practically strengthen PSEA systems at the field-level, please read the new IASC Community-Based Complaint Mechanism Best Practice Guide at the bottom of the page

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