Belgium adheres to international engagements against sexual misconduct in the aid sector

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo endorsed today a number of international engagements to step up the efforts against sexual misconduct in the international aid sector. The engagements were signed in the margins of the international high-level meeting “Putting People First” which took place today in London.

België ondertekent internationale afspraken tegen seksueel wangedrag in hulpsectorBelgië ondertekent internationale afspraken tegen seksueel wangedrag in hulpsector

Alexander De Croo: “The last year, a number of scandals on sexual abuses in the international aid sector emerged. Women, children and persons with an handicap are always the first victims. With the signing of these international engagements, Belgium gives together with 18 other countries a clear signal of zero-tolerance for this kind of disgusting misbehaviors”.

Earlier this year, Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo already tightened the integrity obligations for all Belgian development actors. This strengthening came about in the wake of a number of abuse scandals, including in the British branch of OXFAM. Development organisations must now all draw up an ethical code and invest in integrity trainings. They also have the obligation to put in place a confidential reporting point and give regular updates on complaints received.

The new international engagements which Belgium endorsed further consolidate these stricter integrity obligations. These are built around four pillars:

  1. Support to survivors, victims and whistleblowers, with responsibility and transparency, enhanced reporting and fight against impunity;
  2. Promotion of cultural change through strong leadership, organizational responsibility and better HR-processes;
  3. Adoption of a basic set of norms, and making sure that these are attained;
  4. Strengthening of the organizational capacity in the international aid sector;

The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) will develop in the coming months an instrument to better prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in development cooperation, and to better manage risks. Signatories will evaluate the progress after a period of twelve months.

Besides Belgium, the following countries also signed the engagement on sexual exploitation, abuse and intimidation in the international aid sector: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Austria, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America, Sweden and Switzerland.

The international engagement can be consulted here.