Monday, July 10, 2006

Building Safer Organizations

Thursday, June 15, 2006 10:00am to 11:30am

Speaker: Katharina Samara-Wickrama, Project Coordinator of the Building Safer Organizations Project

The UN secretary General issued a Bulletin in 2003. This was in response to reports of sexual exploitation of refugees in West Africa and Nepal. The Secretary General’s Bulletin made it obligatory on UN agencies and NGO’s to prevent and investigate sexual misconduct by humanitarian staff. This encouraged humanitarian organizations to adopt codes of conduct. The Building Safer Organizations (BSO) is an important project by various NGO’s to address the problem of sexual exploitation. It is housed in the International Councils of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) in Geneva. It strengthens NGO capacity to receive and investigate allegations of sexual exploitation by people. It also conducts workshops, training sessions for the NGOs.
The event focused on developing NGO capacity to receive and respond to allegations of abuse and exploitation by humanitarian workers.
The event also stressed on the need of organizations to be accountable to the people they are working with. Organizations have realized the need to be accountable and therefore, even small NGO’s have a ‘code of conduct’.
However, organizations are still notoriously weak on ‘complaint mechanisms’ that are safe and accessible.
Important issues to be considered are what should complaints systems be like and what the procedure should be after the complaints are recorded.
NGO’s today have very poor mechanisms of recruitment. There are also problems of communication within NGO’s. therefore, a person dismissed from an NGO for any sexual misconduct can easily find employment with the same NGO in a different country.
There is also a need for organizations to work together.

by Tahseen Alam

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