and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

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A Report based on a review of CARE’s Efforts on Prevention
and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

July 2008








The Review Team
:

Joan Connors, Independent Consultant

Madhuri Narayanan, CARE USA

Gerson Nombora, CARE Mo
zambique

Marc Flegenheim
er, CARE International Secretariat


Please email comments to:

Madhuri Narayanan, Senior Advisor, Gender Equity and Diversity, CARE USA:

madhuri@care.org



ii


Preface

This review was lead by an independent external cons
ultant, Joan Connors
and coordinated by CARE USA’s senior GED Advisor, Madhuri Narayanan.
The
co
-
coordinator of SEA Advisory Group, Amelia Siamomua and all other
members contributed to the preparation of the terms of reference for the
review, discussion of

key findings and drafting of recommendations.


The core review team consisted of Joan Co
nnors and Madhuri Narayanan
with additional support from
Marc Flegenheimer
, Human Resources
Coordinator,
CARE International Secretariat
for the visit to CARE
Burundi
and
Gerson Nombora
, Programme Coordinator

from CARE Mozambique
for the
visit to CARE
Jordan. The review team would like to thank the Country
Directors
of CARE
Burundi

(Kassie Mcil
vaine)
,

CARE

Jordan

(Harriet Dodd)

and
CARE
India

(Elizabeth Sime)

and staff
for their cooperation, contribution and
patience during preparation, implementation and report writing phases of the
review. Further, CARE would like to thank its staff,
institutional

partners and
program participants
who
shared their time and valuable ins
ights with the
team.


The initial drafts of the
review
report were prepared by Joan Connors and
then taken over and completed by Madhuri Narayanan

due to unforeseen
delays
.


Finally, t
his review would not have been possible without unrestricted funding
su
pport
and strong organizational commitment for learning demonstrated by
CARE USA
’s leaders and senior managers.



iii



Table of Contents


Executive summary

________________________________
_____________________

i

1

Introduction

________________________________
________________________

1

2

Backgroun
d and context

________________________________
____________

2

2.1

West Africa and the international response

______________________________

2

2.1.1

The ‘West Africa scandal’

________________________________
_________________

2

2.1.2

The international response

________________________________
_________________

2

2.2

CA
RE’s response to West Africa


the ‘Phased Approach’

________________

3

2.3

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) Peer Review

______

4

2.4

Action since 2006


this SEA Review

________________________________
_____

5

2.
4.1

Key questions and process for this Review

________________________________
__

5

3

Findings

________________________________
____________________________

6

3.1

Comprehensive standards on PSEA

________________________________
_____

6

3.1.1

Standards
-

their importance, their content

________________________________
_

6

3.1.2

What CARE is doing well


standards at headquarters and country
-
offices

___

6

3.1.3

What CARE must improve


complete standards

____________________________

7

3.1.3.1

Unclear stance on sexual relationships with adu
lt project participants

____

8

3.1.4

What CARE must improve


consistent standards

___________________________

9

3.1.4.1

Confederate structure leads to inconsistent standards

__________________

9

3.1.4.2

Relationships wit
h external agencies at risk

____________________________

10

3.1.5

Major international NGOs differ in their approaches to comprehensive SEA
standards

________________________________
________________________________
______

11

3.2

Awareness

________________________________
___________________________

11

3.2.1

What CARE is doing well

________________________________
_________________

12

3.2.1.1

Awareness
-
raising among project participants


promising signs

________

12

3.2.1.2

Awareness
-
raising with staff

________________________________
___________

12

3.2.1.3

Some management success stories

________________________________
___

12

3.2.2

What CARE must improve

________________________________
________________

13

3.2.2.1

Confusion about the meaning of ‘SEA’

________________________________

13

3.2.2.2

Poor awareness about complaint mechanisms

________________________

14



iv

3.2.2.3

Poor awa
reness amongst most managers

_____________________________

14

3.2.2.4

Contextualization misunderstood

________________________________
_____

14

3.3

Reporting

________________________________
____________________________

15

3.3.1

What CARE is doing well

________________________________
_________________

16

3.3.1.1

Staff o
bliged to report

________________________________
________________

16

3.3.1.2

Complaints mechanisms established

________________________________
__

16

3.3.2

What CARE must improve


complaints mechanisms ineffective

____________

17

3.3.2.1

Barriers to complaining for
staff

________________________________
_______

17

3.3.2.2

Barriers to complaining for beneficiaries

_______________________________

18

3.4

Investigations

________________________________
________________________

19

3.4.1

What CARE is doing well


capacity to conduct safe and fair investigations

_

20

3.4.1.1

Clear guidelines for investigators

________________________________
______

20

3.4.1.2

Strong investigative capacity

________________________________
_________

20

3.4.2

What CARE must improve

________________________________
________________

21

3.5

Follow up

________________________________
____________________________

21

3.6

Managerial oversight

________________________________
_________________

21

3.6.1

What CARE is doing well

________________________________
_________________

22

3.6.1.1

Dedicated staff resources

________________________________
____________

22

3.6.1.2

Funding for special projects

________________________________
__________

22

3.6.1.3

Establishment of the SEA Advisory Group

______________________________

23

3.6.1.4

SEA Review

________________________________
__________________________

23

3.6.2

What CARE must improve

________________________________
________________

24

3.6.2.1

Significant gaps in leadership and

incentives

__________________________

24

3.6.2.2

Poor awareness among middle managers
_____________________________

24

3.6.2.3

Multinational and decentralized structure

_____________________________

24

4

Recommendations

________________________________
_________________

24





v

List of Figures

Table 1: IASC Principles

________________________________
_______________________________

3

Table 2: CARE
-
USA’s Three
-
Phase Plan

________________________________
_________________

4

Table 3: Selected findings of the SCHR Peer Review of CARE
-
International

_______________

4

Table 4: Benchmarks for good practice on PSEA

________________________________
_______

6

Table 5: Case study on consequences of inconsistent internal standards on PSEA

________

9

Table 6: Staff misunderstandings of SEA, SH, SGBV

________________________________
_____

13

Table 7: Feedback from project participants on complaints mechanisms

_______________

19


List of Annex
ur
es

Annex 1

Burundi Country Office Report

Annex 2

India Country Office Report

Annex 3

Jordan Country Office Report

Ann
ex 4

BSO SEA Tally Sheet Information Summary

Annex
5

IASC Core Principles in CARE and Peer Organization Policies and
Codes of Conduct



vi

List of Abbreviations


CARE

CARE Confederation

CI

CARE
-
International

IASC

Inter
-
Agency Standing Committee

IASC Princi
ples

Inter
-
Agency Standing Committee Six Core
Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and
Abuse

IASC Task Force

Inter
-
Agency Standing Committee Task Force on
Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in
Humanitarian Crisis

NGO

Non
-
Governmental Org
anization

OECD

Organisation for Economic Co
-
operation and
Development

PSEA

Preventi
on and response to
Sexual Exploitation
and Abuse

SCHR

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response

SEA

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

SGBV

Sexual and Gender
-
b
ased Violen
ce

SH

Sexual Harassment

UN

United Nations Organization

UNHCR

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

WFP

World Food Program



i



Executive
S
ummary

CARE has always placed high importance to core values of dignity, security, non
-
discrimination and

equality and
endeavours

to continuously improve its staff policies
to ensure that there is zero tolerance for any discriminatory, harassing or exploitative
conduct in its workplace. Prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse
continued to re
main high on the organizational agenda within CARE over the last f
ive

years and
a peer review in 2006 showed that CARE was roughly in keeping with other
large international NGOs in the prevention and response to SEA, and there was a
sense within the Confed
eration that CARE was moving steadily towards an SEA
-
free
environment.


This Review was commissioned by CARE
-
USA in October 2007 to test that assumption.
It reviews CARE’s PSEA work to date, identifies gaps and recommends further action.
Multi
-
level and st
rategic, it consider
s

key initiatives and policies as well as the views of
CARE project participants, CARE staff, and CARE management. On the whole, it
reveals a number of achievements. However, it clearly indicates that the
Confederation lacks the coheren
t vision and commitment needed to protect project
participants from SEA by staff and partners. SEA remains a real risk to the dignity and
safety of CARE’s beneficiaries, as well as a strategic risk to CARE’s operations and its
reputation as a trusted partn
er for people in need.

Summary of findings

Standards and Policy

The standards introduced by CARE
-
International, operational members and country
offices, do affirm the rights of project participants to be free from SEA. They also
obligate staff members to r
eport SEA. That said, they fall short of the international
standards for PSEA, in particular the IASC Principles.

A related finding is that CARE lacks standards on SEA which are internally consistent
and which match those of its external partners. Such inc
onsistencies are
understandable given CARE’s confederate structure. That said, they may hinder


ii

CARE’s performance in humanitarian emergencies where teams are diverse and
premiums on inter
-
organizational cooperation are high.

CARE’s failure to adopt IASC P
rinciples jeopardizes the full range of its relationships
with donors, NGO partners and beneficiary communities.

CARE is a key UN implementing partner in many parts of the globe. As such, CARE is
obligated to uphold the standards in the Secretary General
’s Bulletin on measures to
prevent and respond to SEA. Failure to do so can result in termination of the contract.

The lack of consistency in CARE’s PSEA standards likewise makes it harder for CARE
staff to work on teams with staff from other large organi
zations which have adopted
IASC Principles, this at a time when CARE seeks to play a leadership role among major
international NGOs and to partner widely in carrying out its programs.

The same inconsistency makes it harder for CARE to tell project partici
pants and
community members about their rights and help them raise concerns. Community
members, especially in humanitarian emergencies, do not necessarily know that a
given humanitarian worker is employed by CARE, let alone that CARE is a
confederation and

that staff are employed under different contracts.


Awareness

The strongest protective standards are meaningless if stakeholders do not understand
their rights and duties. Understanding in turn requires effective awareness
-
raising, that
is, comprehensive
and appropriate projects to inform potential victims, complainants
and subjects of complaint about the content of SEA standards, the process for raising
concerns and the consequences of non
-
compliant behaviour.

CARE has achieved some promising success in
informing project participants and their
communities of their rights with regard to sexual violence generally, if not PSEA
specifically. Despite the challenges, the Review found that each of the three country
offices had undertaken successful projects to e
mpower community members to
prevent exploitation and abuse. In each location, project participants gained insight
into power dynamics in their intimate relationships, their families and their communities
that lead to victimization.

CARE’s ongoing efforts a
t awareness
-
raising among staff include activities suggested
in international standards.
Some


though by no means all


CARE middle managers
demonstrate sophisticated understanding of SEA issues and how PSEA can be
integrated into programming. CARE line m
anagers are also succeeding in
incorporating cultural considerations when applying the policy.

CARE personnel at all levels confuse sexual exploitation and abuse with sexual
harassment and sexual and gender
-
based violence.

They perceive SEA to be on a


iii

cont
inuum with sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and, ultimately, sexual abuse.

This in turn undermines the key message regarding what they are allowed and not
allowed to do. Similar confusion was also apparent in CARE’s awareness
-
raising efforts
with pro
ject participants. In the reviewers’ conversations with more than 50 program
participants, weaknesses in project participants’ awareness of core messages


what
they are entitled to, how they could complain, and what would happen if they
complained


were
readily apparent.
With some exceptions, SEA awareness among
middle managers was notably low.

While recognising the inherent value in the process of contextualization, the review
points out the dangers of authorising contextualization in the absence of clea
r
‘organizational bottom lines’ and supervision from headquarters. In some cases,
‘contextualization’ became an excuse for individuals to unilaterally weaken the
standards of protection available to vulnerable women and children.


Reporting

In keeping wit
h IASC Principles, all headquarters
-
level mechanisms impose on CARE
personnel a duty to report SEA. They likewise provide for confidentiality and for
protection from retaliation. None, however, impose penalties for not reporting.
Confidentiality is assured

to the extent possible.

Country office procedures likewise impose on staff a duty to report and provide for
confidentiality. Many also prohibit retaliation.

Whilst it is commendable that CARE has introduced complaints mechanisms for staff
and beneficia
ries, it needs to seriously consider how these mechanisms can be
improved. A key finding of the Review was the absence of any SEA reports to CARE
from any complainant group


CARE personnel, project participants and
communities. The absence of reports shou
ld not be construed to mean the absence
of SEA.

Because CARE’s complaints mechanisms are designed with the needs of staff
in mind, they are generally unsuitable for use by project participants and communities
to report SEA.


Investigations

Although CARE ha
s not conducted investigations into allegations of SEA (having
received no reports via its complaints mechanisms), it has taken steps to ensure its
capacity to meet this benchmark when investigations are carried out. CARE
-
USA’s
legal department maintains a

set of best
-
practice guidelines for the investigation of
allegations of fraud and misconduct. CARE’s investigators have also been trained in
accordance with BSO
-
specific guidelines on SEA investigations. Together these


iv

complementary frameworks ensure CARE

an adequate framework for investigating
SEA allegations.
CARE is a leader among international NGOs in training its personnel in
the skills needed to investigate allegations of SEA, with nearly 25 staff trained by BSO
on SEA investigations.


Managerial Ove
rsight

CARE
-
USA has taken a lead on PSEA work, demonstrating a significant commitment to
addressing SEA through the dedicated of financial and human resources and the
establishment of a specialised PSEA forum.

The Review findings, especially those on stand
ards and contextualization, point to
CARE’s internationalized and decentralized structure as contributing factors in the
challenges to incorporating PSEA principles across the Confederation. On the one
hand, CARE is a confederation, so no one member has po
wer over the others. On the
other, it is a ‘multinational’, with country offices that exercise a fair degree of
autonomy. Neither of those things is bad in and of themselves. But they do present
challenges in terms of addressing SEA, protecting CARE’s repu
tation and upholding
the values on which its good reputation is based.

Summary of recommendations

Based on the foregoing, and in the interests of furthering CARE’s commitment to
prevent and respond to SEA by its personnel, these recommendations are made.

1.

Inform the CI and lead member Boards of Directors of this Review’s findings
and the risks SEA poses to the Organization.


2.

Seek a mandate from the CI and lead member Boards of Directors to establish
SEA standards consistent with IASC Principles across the C
onfederation.


3.

Establish clear expectations and accountabilities for the prevention and
response to SEA.


4.

Integrate PSEA into program design, monitoring, evaluation and ongoing
learning.



1


1

Introduction

Human dignity. Security. Aid for those in need, wit
hout discrimination of any
kind. These are the values that inspired the founders of CARE to rush ‘CARE
packages’ to European survivors of World War II. This original act of
humanitarianism gave CARE its sterling reputation for aiding those in need, a
reput
ation which CARE burnished over 60 years by feeding and caring for
survivors of war and natural disasters and combating the
devastating a
ffects of
poverty around the world.

As an institution, CARE understood early on how power affects relief
operations. I
t was therefore gravely concerned by reports from Nepal and West
and Central Africa in 2002 that implicated humanitarian workers in the sexual
abuse of refugee women and girls. These claims provided a shocking
counterpoint to the espoused values of organiz
ations such as CARE, and implicit
support for critiques of international NGOs as unaccountable to external
stakeholders. At the same time, the so
-
called ‘West Africa scandal’ introduced a
new phrase and challenge into the humanitarian lexicon: ‘preventi
on
and
response to
sexual exploitation and abuse’ or ‘PSEA.’

CARE took an early lead on PSEA amongst the large international NGOs.
Already in 2002, CARE
-
USA spearheaded the development of an action plan on
SEA within the Confederation; it dedicated resources
to PSEA and oversaw
subsequent work. By 2006, a peer review showed that CARE was roughly in
keeping with other large international NGOs in the prevention and response to
SEA, and there was a sense within the Confederation that CARE was moving
steadily towa
rds an SEA
-
free environment.

This Review was commissioned by CARE
-
USA in October 2007 to test that
assumption. It reviews CARE’s PSEA work to date, identifies gaps and
recommends further action. Multi
-
level and strategic, it consider
s

key initiatives
and p
olicies as well as the views of CARE project participants, CARE staff, and
CARE management.
On the whole, it reveals a number of achievements.
However, it clearly indicates that the Confederation lacks the coherent vision
and commitment needed to protect p
roject participants from SEA by staff and
partners.

SEA remains a real risk to the dignity and safety of CARE’s
beneficiaries, as well as a strategic risk to CARE’s operations and its reputation
as a trusted partner for people in need.



2

2

Background and conte
xt

2.1

West Africa and the international response


Though the problem of SEA is probably as old as organized humanitarianism
itself, most work on preventing SEA began in 2002 in response to the so
-
called
‘West Africa scandal.’

2.1.1

The ‘West Africa scandal’

The ‘We
st Africa scandal’ is shorthand for the allegations that emerged from the
Manu River states at the end of the 1990s. In February 2002, a joint assessment
report of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save
the Children
-
UK reported that

girls as young as 13 in Guinea, Liberia and
Sierra Leone were coerced into exchanging sex for food, commodities or essential
services by peacekeepers, UN and other humanitarian workers. The claims were
publicised in the media and sparked international out
rage and calls for reform.

2.1.2

The international response

Following a UN investigation, the Inter
-
Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
tasked its SEA Task Force
1

to identify gaps and develop remedial measures
relating to SEA. The IASC Task Force found that the Wes
t African case
highlighted broader weaknesses in humanitarian organizations, in particular,
the absence of codes of conduct for staff and mechanisms for receiving and
responding to actual reports of SEA. In
2002
, it made recommendations to
address SEA in t
he humanitarian context, which became known as the IASC
Principles.

Table 1:
The IASC Principles

1. Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers constitute acts of gross
misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment.

2. Sexu
al activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of
the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief regarding the age of a child
is not a defence.

3. Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex,

including sexual favours
or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour is prohibited. This
includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.

4. Sexual relationships between humanitarian workers and beneficiaries are stron
gly
discouraged since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics. Such
relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work.

5. Where a humanitarian worker develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual
abuse or exploit
ation by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, he or she



1

Co
-
chaired by OCH
A and UNICEF, Task Force members included InterAction, of which CARE is a
member, and the Standing Committee
f
or Humanitarian Re
sponse
, of which CARE is a founding
member, repres
e
nted by Save the Children
-
UK and Oxfam.



3

must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms.

6. Humanitarian workers are obliged to create and maintain an environment which
prevents sexual exploitation and
abuse and promotes the implementation of their code
of conduct. Managers at all levels have particular responsibilities to support and
develop systems which maintain this environment.

What is a ‘humanitarian worker’?

All workers engaged by humanitarian age
ncies, whether internationally or national
recruited, or formally or informally retained from the beneficiary community, to conduct
the activities of that agency.

Inter
-
Agency Standing Committee Report of the Task Force on Protection from Sexual
Exploitati
on and Abuse in Humanitarian Crises (2002), (C)(8).

Table
1
: IASC
Principles

and definition of ‘humanitarian worker’

2.2

CARE’s response to West Africa


the ‘Phased Approach’

Contemporaneously with the IASC initiative,
CARE
-
USA
establ
ished its own
task force to investigate the potential involvement of CARE staff

in the West
Africa allegations and

examine
possible
exposure of CARE’s oper
a
tions

outside
the region (
CARE Task Force
). The CARE Task Force found no evidence of
CARE staff invo
lvement

in
the reported cases in West Africa, but it
recognized
the potential for such abuse

in its operations. Importantly, it identified the
‘urgent need’ for mechanisms to prevent and respond to exploitation of all kinds.

The recommendations from the C
ARE Task Force were then
reviewed

by
another body, the

‘Sexual Exploitation S
upport Group,’ which establish
ed

priorities and targets for implementation. The resulting implementation plan
was endorsed by CARE
-
USA’s Executive and
Program
Senior Management
T
eams, and communicated to all Country Offices

in February 2004. It has
become the key document for CARE’s PSEA programs, though it is
not formally
binding on CARE International or the other operational members.

Table 2: CARE USA Three Phase Plan

Phase 1


Immediate or starting point

a)

Establish policies, standards and codes of conduct contextualized for the
particular country office, keeping in view ‘organizational bottom lines’ and
CARE’s rights
-
based programming approach

b)

Establish reporting and investigati
on procedures

Phase 2


Intermediate and ongoing

a)

Build leader and staff capacity

b)

Generate empowerment and community awareness

c)

Establish compliance mechanisms for SEA policy

Phase 3


Longer term integration within the organization

a)

Integrate PSEA in Prog
ram and HR policies and practices



4

b)

Establish clear accountabilities

c)

Create a trusting environment

d)

Ensure regular reflection and organizational learning, feeding back lessons
learnt into all of the above


Table
2
:
CARE
-
USA’s Three
-
Ph
ase Plan

(2004)

2.3

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) Peer Review

CARE
-
USA’s internal review coincided with another important look of the
Confederation’s PSEA work: the SCHR Peer Review
2
. Employing the
methodology of the OECD’s Development A
ssistance Committee
3
, the Peer
Review enabled CARE to compare its performance on PSEA to that of the large
international NGO networks that make up the SCHR.
4

The
SCHR
reviewers
made a number of findings and recommendations relevant to this report (see
Tabl
e
3
)
.

Table 3: Selected
Findings of the SCHR Peer Review on PSEA

The review found that ‘core CARE commitments and principles’ risked being lost
through the ‘country
-
led process of contextualization.’

It recommended CARE establish a CI
-
wide policy on SEA ‘
accompanied by a clear
statement of non
-
negotiable areas.’

It pointed to an ‘accountability gap’ when CARE works through partners and
recommended that CARE clarify the standards applicable to partners and staff.

It noted CARE had been unable to present in
formation about allegations, investigations
and disciplinary measures, and found CARE should address this weakness ‘without
undermining the organization’s decentralized philosophy’ or confidentiality.

It recommended the CI Board be informed ‘of current re
alities so it can demonstrate
greater leadership.’

Source: CARE SCHR Peer Review Report, 2006

Table
3
:
Selected findings of the SCHR Peer Review of CARE
-
International

(2006)

Given the limited interaction at the headquarters level t
his review did not
assess the effectiveness of the PSEA implementation in the peer organizations
in terms leadership, staff awareness, integration within programming,



2

A subsidiary body of the IASC, the
Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response is a voluntary
alliance of eight major international humanitarian organizations. It uses peer review (amongst other
things) to help members improve humanitarian interventions

3

See the OECD website,
http://www.oecd.org/department/0,3355,en_2649_34603_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

and Inter
-
Agency
Standing Committee (IASC),
http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/content/about/schr.asp


4

Like CARE,
other SCHR members including Oxfam, the International Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies and the Save the Children Alliance are international networks, whic
h
operate
internationally at the
country level through
confederation and alliance structure and partnerships.



5

accessibility of reporting mechanism, quality of investigations and follow
-
up
actions.

2.4

Ac
tion since 2006


this SEA Review

The
CARE
-
International Secretariat and CARE
-
USA a
ssumed responsibility for
overseeing the implementation of the Peer Review’s recommendations

in 2006
.
Having registered considerable progress,
CARE
-
USA determined in 2007 th
at
the time was right

to review the work to date, identify gaps, and recommend
action aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of CARE’s SEA work
’ in
humanitarian (emergency) and development work
. CARE
-
USA engaged the
writer, who conducted the review with th
e assistance of two Senior Advisors on
Gender

Equity and Diversity from CARE
-
USA. Representatives of the CI
Secretariat,
some
member country offices, and the SEA Advisory Group
provided
feedback on the
review methodology and
preliminary findings

and
recomm
endations.

In all, the SEA Review took six months, included visits to
three country offices
(Burundi, Jordan and India)
and employed a
comprehensive methodology, from desk
-
based studies to interviews with
managers, staff members, PSEA focal points in peer

organizations, and


most
importantly


project participants.


CO selection was guided by following considerations:



Representation of diverse regions and contexts including at least one
long
-
term emergency programming context



Interest and commitment from
CO leadership and staff to cooperate and
with the evaluation and follow
-
up on recommendations



Potential for Organizational Learning
-

Length and Diversity of SEA
Efforts and Outcomes

2.4.1

Key questions and process for this Review

The key questions for this Revi
ew were therefore:

-

whether
the
CARE Confederation has developed and implemented
systems for
preventing and responding

to SEA; and

-

if so, whether those system
s meet

the standards set in key international
instruments on PSEA
5
, as summarized in the

following

six ‘good practice’
benchmarks
(see Table
4
)
.





5

IASC
6
Core Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (June 2002), Secretary
-
General's
Bulletin
Special measures for protection from
sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

(ST/SGB/2003/13), and Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by
UN and Non
-
UN Personnel (December 2006). CARE has ratified each of these instruments

or, in the
case of the Secretary
-
General
’s Bulletin, is held to the standards contractually.



6

Table

4:
Benchmarks for good practice in PSEA

Comprehensive PSEA standards



The organization has introduced comprehensive standards
on PSEA for partners and staff.

Awareness



The organization ensures that a
ll stakeholders, in particular staff and project
participants, are aware of and understand their rights and duties under the standards.

Reporting



The organization ensures that mechanisms for reporting sexual exploitation and
abuse are accessible and that

focal points for receiving complaints understand how to
discharge their duties.

Investigation



The organization conducts thorough, safe and fair investigations into
allegations of SEA in a variety of environments.

Follow
-
up


The organization takes actio
n on the investigation’s findings, responding to the
individual case and incorporating lessons learned into its overall PSEA strategy.

Management responsibility


The organization has developed and implemented organization
-
specific strategies to prevent a
nd respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, including in
programming.


Table
4
:
Benchmarks for good practice on PSEA

The indicators for each of these Benchmarks are discussed together with the
Review’s findings.

B
rief report
s

on e
ach
of the three
individual Country Office
Visit
s

is provided as
Annex

1, 2 and 3.


3

Findings

3.1

Comprehensive standards on PSEA

3.1.1

Standards
-

their importance, their content

Standards are at the core of an organization’s PSEA system.
They define
appropriate con
duct for staff, tell project participants and communities what
they can expect, and
allow the organizations to be held to account. S
tandards
must, at a minimum:

-

affirm the rights of project participants to dignity, equality and aid free
from SEA

-

incorporat
e the IASC Principles, especially the duty of staff and partners
not to commit SEA

-

impose duties on individual organizations, through their management
teams, to create an SEA
-
free environment

3.1.2

What CARE is doing well


standards at headquarters and in count
ry
offices

Key stakeholders of the CARE Confederation have adopted standards of conduct
regulating the behaviour of staff. The CARE
-
International Secretariat and the


7

three lead members have introduced standards on
harassment, discrimination,
exploitation a
nd abuse,

and accountability at the headquarters
-
level.

Country
-
offices of CARE
-
USA have also been directed to adopt
policies and
codes

of conduct,

which reflect ‘organizational bottom lines
,


consistent with
CARE’s vision and values.

In
2006,

eighty perc
ent of country offices reported
having adopted PSEA policies and codes of conduct, a finding supported by
data
from the
recent BSO Tally Sheet

(A selected summary of Tally Sheet
information is provided in A
nnexe

4)
, at least in relation to country offices

for
CARE
-
USA. That data also suggests that the standards cover at least some of
the core principles, such as a duty not to commit SEA and a duty to report SEA
6
.

3.1.3

What CARE must improve


complete standards

The standards introduced by CARE
-
International, op
erational members and
country offices, do affirm the rights of project participants to be free from SEA.
They also obligate staff members to report SEA.
That said, they fall short of the
international standards for PSEA, in particular the IASC Principles.
None of
the COs that the review team visited
include
s

the IASC’s definitions of sexual
exploitation and sexual abuse and all fail to take a clear position on the key
issues of sexual activity with children and sexual relationships between staff
and adult
project participants. These weaknesses are not shared by CARE’s
peers
7
.

Unclear prohibitions on sexual activity with children

The particular vulnerability of children to SEA in humanitarian situations
would seem to be beyond doubt
8
. However, no CARE entity

unequivocally
prohibits its staff and partners from engaging in sexual activity with children:

-

CARE
-
USA prohibits its personnel from sexual ‘relationships’ with
children,
but it does not provide any more guidance on what this would
mean in practice
. Inte
rnational standards on SEA prohibit sexual



6

58% of CARE
-
USA’s country offices responded to the BSO tally sheet survey. Of these 94%
reported having a policy that staff must not exploit or abuse beneficiaries. Ninety
-
seven percent
answered that
staff must report suspected cases of SEA by fellow staff members, and 92% said their
written policy tells people how to report suspected SEA. A smaller percentage, 78%, have policies
that staff who exploit or abuse beneficiaries or who fail to report cases

of SEA will be disciplined, and
only 42% of policies obligate staff to report suspected SEA by staff of
other

organizations.

It is important to note that the high compliance rate among CARE
-
USA country offices is based on
self
-
assessment and self
-
reporti
ng. The country offices are under no obligation to adopt the standards
or to communicate them to headquarters. Moreover, no systematic headquarters
-
level review has
assessed individual country
-
level policies and codes to determine the extent to which they
meet
international standards.

7

The two peer organizations included in this review incorporate all IASC principles in their SEA
standards (see Table 1).

8

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) and Convention on the Rights of the Child
(1989)
recognize the need of children to special care and protection. Their particular vulnerability to
SEA in humanitarian emergencies is highlighted in the
IASC Task Force Report (2002)
.



8

‘activity’ with children, encompassing a broader range of conduct than
does the prohibition on sexual ‘relationships’ with children. The
inherently ambiguous term ‘relationship’


where does sexual ‘activity’
end
and a ‘relationship’ begin?


could mean anything depending upon a
host of variables. It falls short, therefore as a meaningful standard of
conduct.

-

CARE
-
Australia personnel affirm their understanding that they are
‘expected not to engage in sexual activi
ties’ with children. However, this
seemingly clear standard is muddied in the next sentence that exempts
‘staff, who, in accordance with laws and customs of their country of
origin and/or host country, may have a consensual relationship and/or be
married t
o someone under 18.’ It appears that CARE
-
Australia tried to
provide guidance on this issue, for example cautioning international
staff members against taking advantage of local custom, but resulted in
creating an exception far broader than that allowed un
der the
international standards to which CARE has committed.
9


-

CARE
-
Canada
is

silent on sexual activity with children. While
it
might
be
argue
d

that the prohibition on sexual activity with children is
implicit in the general prohibition on SEA,
it
would
n
ot
explicitly allow a
marriage exception.

3.1.3.1

Unclear stance on sexual relationships with adult project participants

As a whole, the CARE Confederation is not clear about when it is, and when it is
not, permissible for staff to conduct sexual relationships wi
th adult project
participants. CARE
-
USA and CARE
-
Australia seem to follow the standard set
by the IASC Principles, in which such relationships are ‘strongly discouraged’
10




9

Under international standards, sexual activity with children is prohibit
ed, regardless of the local age
of consent, except in cases where the staff member’s marriage to a person under 18 is recognized
under the law of the staff member’s nationality. ‘Consensual,’ customary sexual relationships are not
allowed. The 1996 stateme
nt of the CARE International Board of Directors upon the adoption of the
Code of Conduct is illustrative of good practice in addressing questions regarding respect of local
custom: ‘CARE International, in adopting the Red Cross Code of Conduct, makes note
that the
language . . .
we shall respect Culture and Custom
, will be interpreted and applied in conformity with
internationally recognized human rights, particularly in regards to the rights of women.’

10

CARE USA policy states: “CARE strongly discourages

staff from engaging in sexual or romantic
relationships with members of communities with whom they are directly working. This is because as
employees of CARE, each staff member has potentially greater access to goods, services and power
than members of th
e program participant community, which could be used to pressure or exploit
them. However, it is recognized that CARE employees are often also members of the program
participant community, and therefore may be married or have long
-
established romantic rela
tionships
in the program participant community. It is expected that all employees will exercise discretion,
professionalism and good judgment when there is a romantic relationship between CARE employees
and program participants. Should somehow a romantic r
elationship develop, the CARE employee is
expected to make this relationship known to their supervisor, who will then determine if the current
work arrangement is appropriate.
CARE Australia staff Code of Conduct states, “
I recognise that
there is an inhe
rent conflict of interest and potential abuse of power in having sexual relations with
members of communities with whom we are directly working. Should I find myself in such a


9

(see further

e 5
)
. However, CARE
-
Canada only prohibits sexual relationships
between
personnel who are working ‘directly’ with project participants.

3.1.4

What CARE must improve


consistent standards

A related finding is that CARE lacks standards on SEA which are internally
consistent and which match those of its external partners. Such
inconsistencies
are understandable given CARE’s confederate structure. That said, they may
hinder CARE’s performance in humanitarian emergencies where teams are
diverse and premiums on inter
-
organizational cooperation are high.

3.1.4.1

Confederate struct
ure leads to inconsistent standards

The delivery of humanitarian assistance is a major objective for all
organizations in the CARE Confederation and responsibilities in a crisis are
dispersed between CARE
-
International and operational members. Broadly,
CAR
E
-
International is responsible for coordinating missions and dealing with
external agencies, whereas CARE
-
USA, CARE
-
Canada and CARE
-
Australia,
employ the staff who comprise emergency teams.
This networked structure
allows ‘CARE’ to respond quickly to crisi
s, though it also creates challenges for
effective PSEA, as demonstrated in the following hypothetical case study (see
Table
5
).


Table 5:
Case study on consequences of inconsistent internal standards on PSEA

Assume hypothetically that each of three lead m
embers deploys one staff member to
respond to a humanitarian disaster. Assume as well that the three staff members are
assigned to the same unit and that each has a sexual relationship with a program
participant. Under current policies, their supervisor wo
uld have to examine their
contracts and separate codes of conduct to determine who may and who may not engage
in such a relationship.

CARE
-
USA staff members, for example, are ‘strongly discouraged’ from having sexual
relationships with project participants
. Their CARE
-
Canada colleagues, however, are
prohibited from ‘sexual or
romantic

relationships with members of communities with
whom they are directly working’ but, should one develop, CARE
-
Canada staff members
are expected to discuss the matter with their

supervisor. The supervisor is in turn
obligated to determine whether an ‘alternative suitable work arrangement’ can be
found. Different yet, the CARE
-
Australia code of conduct acknowledges the ‘inherent
conflict of interest and potential abuse of power’ i
n sexual relationships with members
of communities CARE works with. If, however, CARE
-
Australia staff members find
themselves in a sexual relationship that they consider ‘non
-
exploitative and consensual,’
they are instructed to disclose the fact to their s
upervisor ‘for appropriate guidance.’


Table
5
:
Case study on consequences of inconsistent internal standards on PSEA






relationship with a community member that I consider non
-
exploitative and cons
ensual, I will report
this to my supervisor for appropriate guidance in the knowledge that this matter will be treated with
due discretion. I understand that both my supervisor and I have available to us normal consultative
and recourse mechanisms on these

issues.




10

The case study shows how the lack of common standard
s

complicates PSEA for
all CARE stakeholders. For CARE
’s lead

members
, it means delivering subtly
different messages to donors, staff and
project participants

about standards of
behaviour in CARE operations. For CARE supervisors, it means monitoring and
enforcing different standards of conduct within the same team (
i.e. ‘appropriate
guidance’ for the CARE
-
Australia staff member, and ‘alternative suitable work
arrangement’ for the employee from CARE
-
Canada). For CARE staff it means
identifying the appropriate standards for personal conduct and tolerating
inconsistent
treatment for the same type of conduct. Finally, for affected
communities, it means understanding which standards apply to which CARE
workers and appreciating why CARE’s SEA standards seem to be inconsistently
enforced. In short, uncertainty about appropri
ate standards weakens
the
‘compliance environment’ in CARE’s humanitarian operations.

3.1.4.2.

Relationships with
donors, NGO partners and communities
at risk

CARE’s failure to adopt IASC Principles jeopardizes the full range of its
relationships with don
ors, NGO partners and beneficiary communities.

CARE is a key UN implementing partner in many parts of the globe. As such,
CARE is obligated to uphold the standards in the Secretary General’s Bulletin
on measures to prevent and respond to SEA. Failure to
do so can result in
termination of the contract.

Three country office directors interviewed in connection with the Review
observed that the UN agencies for which their offices are implementing partners
do not necessarily
follow

the standards themselves. W
hile this may be true,
CARE has elected to enter into contracts with the UN and remains bound by the
terms of those contracts.
11


A major media exposé of a worst
-
case scenario where SEA occurs involving
CARE personnel or in the context of CARE programs, co
uld lead to quick UN
action to suspend its contracts with CARE. Such a worst
-
case scenario would no
doubt bring with it major reputational damage to the organization.

The lack of consistency in CARE’s PSEA standards likewise makes it harder for
CARE staff
to work on teams with staff from other large organizations which
have adopted IASC Principles, this at a time when CARE seeks to play a
leadership role among major international NGOs and to partner widely in
carrying out its programs.

The same inconsisten
cy makes it harder for CARE to tell project participants
and community members about their rights and help them raise concerns.
Community members, especially in humanitarian emergencies, do not



11

As also noted by the country directors,
UN agencies

sometimes omit SEA clauses from contracts
with NGO implementing partners.




11

necessarily know that a given humanitarian worker is employed
by CARE, let
alone that CARE is a confederation and that staff are employed under different
contracts. As CARE participants in BSO trainings have learned, sexual
predators may actually seek to camouflage themselves and their actions in the
guise of humanit
arian workers. Other humanitarian workers may easily
distinguish one humanitarian worker from another, like zebras who use each
other’s stripes to identify family and recognize members of their own herd. For
‘outsiders’ like project participants and commun
ity members, however, the
sexual predators’ ‘humanitarian camouflage,’ works in much the same way as
the zebra’s stripes, making them indistinguishable from one another.

3.1.5

Major international NGOs differ in their approaches to comprehensive SEA
stand
ards

Two peer organizations were included as part of this review in an attempt to
learn from their efforts on PSEA. The consultant gathered policy documents and
interacted with their staff responsible for this work.

Interviews with SEA focal points raised

one important issue for CARE’s
consideration


the usefulness of bright
-
line standards of conduct.
One
organization’s
prohibition of exploitative relationships, while entirely correct, is
ambiguous. The answer to the question whether any relationship is ‘
exploitative’
will nearly always require assessment of the nature of the relationship.
According to
the organization’s
Senior Accountability Advisor,
their
managers
are ‘uncomfortable’ judging their colleagues’ relationships leaving open for
consideration,

for example, whether paying a commercial sex worker for sex, or
having a sexual relationship with a child under age 18 in certain cultural
settings might or might not be exploitative. The lack of clear guidance for staff,
and management hesitance, said th
e Senior Accountability Advisor, ‘sends a bad
message.’
Table
5
.

The second organization
, by contrast, has adopted bright
-
line standards for its
staff in prohibiting sexual activity with a child, with no exceptions. According to
their
Global Child Protecti
on Advisor, staff objected when the strict standards
were first introduced. Since then, however,
the organization’s
unwavering
clarity on the standards has led to a decrease in debate within the organization
and to a corresponding increase in compliance wi
th the standards.

New personnel are required to sign
codes of conduct
that incorporate the
standards
upon joining the organization.

3.2

Awareness

The strongest protective standards are meaningless if stakeholders do not
understand their rights and duties.
Understanding in turn requires effective


12

awareness
-
raising, that is, comprehensive and appropriate projects to inform
potential victims, complainants and subjects of complaint about the content of
SEA standards, the process for raising concerns and the con
sequences of non
-
compliant behaviour.

3.2.1

What CARE is doing well

3.2.1.1

Awareness
-
raising among project participants


promising signs

CARE has achieved some promising success in informing project participants
and their communities of their rights with regard to se
xual violence generally, if
not PSEA specifically. CARE has faced considerable challenges, including low
levels of formal
education amongst target
communities

and cultural messages
about the low status of women and children.

Despite th
e challenges
, the Re
view found that each of the three country offices
had undertaken successful projects to empower community members to prevent
exploitation and abuse. In each location, project participants gained insight into
power dynamics in their intimate relationships,
their families and their
communities that lead to victimization. Parallel projects aimed at providing
economic options


for example through education
, training,

or savings and
credit schemes


give participants meaningful alternatives to victimization.


3.2.1.2

A
wareness
-
raising with staff

CARE
’s ongoing efforts at awareness
-
raising among staff include activities
suggested in international standards
. These

include:

-

requiring personnel to sign stand
-
alone codes of conduct and incorporate
SEA standards into inductio
n materials

-

reminding personnel of their obligations through training course and
other communications.

3.2.1.3

Some management success stories

Some


though by no means
all


CARE middle managers demonstrate
sophisticated understanding of SEA issues an
d how PSE
A

can be integrated
into programming. One such project manager has built numero
us

safeguards
into the outreach component of a community counselling project: drivers receive
a
confidentiality

briefing and rotate among teams of counsellors, counsellors
also ro
tate, and team movements and client contacts are documented
throughout the day. Similarly, many line staff, particularly those who work in
the gender field, articulate strong understanding of SEA.

CARE line managers are also succeeding in incorporating cu
ltural
considerations when applying the policy.
Leaders in the country offices have
created environments conducive to dialogue and helped staff develop culturally


13

relevant policy and code adaptations, though this has downsides for enforcement
as well (see
below, section
3.2.2.4)
.

3.2.2

What CARE must improve

3.2.2.1

Confusion about the meaning of ‘SEA’

CARE

personnel at all levels confuse sexual exploitation and abuse with sexual
harassment and sexual and gender
-
based violence.
As illustrated in
Table 6
,

CARE personnel
o
ften
think

SEA is limited to the more severe forms of sexual
violence.
It emerged from

more than 30 phone conversations, and from face
-
to
-
face interviews at CARE country offices, that they

perceive SEA to be on a
continuum with sexual harassment, sexual ex
ploitation and
, ultimately,

sexual
abuse.

This in turn undermines the key message regarding what they are
allowed and not allowed to do.

SH
SE
SA
Power Abuse
Low
High
Sexually Offensive Behavior
Less
severe
More severe
Staff MISUNDERSTANDING of
SH,SE, SA

Table
6
: Staff misconceptions of SEA, SH, SGBV

Similar confusio
n was also apparent in CARE’s awareness
-
raising efforts with
project participants. For example, the Review found that communications about
sexual and gender
-
based violence largely focused on violence within the
beneficiary community; they neglected the pro
blem of violence by humanitarian
workers themselves.

The Review concludes that this confusion is due in part to the consolidation of
CARE’s policies and standards on accountability, SEA, discrimination and
harassment. The Review encourages CARE to retain
its comprehensive policies
and codes, though with greater explanation about the differences between, for
example, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of project participants and
workplace sexual harassment.



14

Conversations with CARE personnel, especially in

the presence of project
participants, also reflect the fact that SEA is hard to talk about. CARE
personnel, for example, commonly use euphemisms instead of sexually explicit
terms. The challenge of talking about SEA in turn makes it difficult for CARE
per
sonnel to raise the issue with program participants, much less to draw out
concerns program participants and community members may hesitate to
express. CARE’s leadership must find ways to support dialogue within the
organization about SEA.

3.2.2.2

Poor awareness a
bout complaint mechanisms

In the reviewers’ conversations with more than 50 program participants,
weaknesses in project participants’ awareness of core messages


what they are
entitled to, how they could complain, and what would happen if they complained



were readily apparent. This finding is consistent with the 62% of country
offices responding to the SEA Tally Sheet that rated project participants’ overall
awareness of CARE’s policies as low. Tellingly, only 15% of responding country
offices said wom
en’s and youth groups were involved in designing the CARE
complaint mechanisms.
(
e

4)

3.2.2.3

Poor awareness amongst most managers

With some exceptions (see above,
section
3.2.1.3
), SEA awareness among middle
managers was notably low. Some frankly admitted knowing

little about SEA or
organizational standards and expectations, and seemed undisturbed by their
lack of knowledge or interest. As one HR/Admin manager put it,

‘Sexual harassment, Sexual abuse. Sexual exploitation.
I don’t know the
difference. If I touch y
our shoulder is that sexual exploitation? You have to
remember, we work in a multi
-
cultural environment.’

Others said they integrated SEA issues into their technical work, for example in
program evaluation, but when asked for specifics could not say when
or how
they did so. One offered as an example the evaluation report he had produced on
CARE’s response to a major humanitarian disaster. Although the evaluation
report contained multiple references to ‘sexual exploitation’


all were repeat
uses of the sam
e quote.

3.2.2.4

Contextualization misunderstood

The above quote also suggests that culture has come to be seen as a reason for
neglecting PSEA in some contexts.
This risk was recognized by the SCHR Peer
Review team ‘
overall, the review team recognized the inheren
t value in the
country
-
led process of contextualization. The challenge is to ensure that this
process is rigorous and that core CARE commitments and principles are


15

upheld
.
12



The dangers of culturization ‘gone wrong’ were amply demonstrated
during this Rev
iew. Worryingly, culture was used by
one senior manager to
dismiss complaint about possible SEA in CARE operations. When the reviewers
raised concern about instances of SEA in a CARE food distribution program, the
manager responded defensively, that SEA is

‘in the culture’ and CARE would be
quickly overwhelmed if it tried to investigate every instance of abuse.

The
manager’s response indicates the dangers of authorising contextualization in the
absence of clear ‘organizational bottom lines’ and supervision
from
headquarters. In this case at least, ‘contextualization’ became an excuse for
individuals to unilaterally weaken the standards of protection available to
vulnerable women and children.

In this regard, it is worth recalling
that t
he CARE International

Board of
Directors agreed, at the May 12 1996 Board meeting held in Paris, to adopt this
Code of Conduct with the addition of the following clarification:

“CARE International, in adopting the Red Cross Code of Conduct, makes note
that the language under p
rovision No 5
we shall respect Culture and Custom
,
will be interpreted and applied in conformity with Internationally recognised
human rights, particularly in regards to the rights of women
13
”.

3.3

Reporting

Creating a ‘reporting environment’ at once raises que
stions of form and content,
design and practice:

-

Form
: Has the organization created and recorded processes for receiving
concerns about SEA? In other words, has it created a formal complaints
mechanism?

-

Content
: Is it
clear
who can
(and who must)
complain
, about what, to
whom and how?

-

Design
: Does the mechanism address the barriers to complaining
encountered by complainants, especially vulnerable complainants

such
as youth, elders, disabled, and social minorities
?

Was it designed with
their input?

-

Practic
e
: Are potential complainants aware of the mechanism? Has the
organization demonstrated its commitment to enforcement through
appropriate follow
-
up
?




12

SCHR Peer Review Report on CARE International, 2006

(p.3)

13

CARE Code of Conduct based on the International Red Cr
oss and Red Crescent Movement Code of
Conduct, 2006, p.1




16

Questions about awareness and follow
-
up are considered in section
3.2
(above)
and
section
3.6
(below). The

form, content and design of CARE’s complaints
mechanism are discussed here.

3.3.1

What CARE is doing well

3.3.1.1

Staff obliged to report

In keeping with IASC Principles, all headquarters
-
level mechanisms impose on
CARE personnel a duty to report SEA. They likewise pr
ovide for confidentiality
and for protection from retaliation. None, however, impose penalties for not
reporting. Confidentiality is assured to the extent possible.

Country office procedures likewise impose on staff a duty to report and provide
for confi
dentiality. Many also prohibit retaliation.

3.3.1.2

Complaints mechanisms established

CARE’s complaints mechanisms differ depending on whether the complainant is
a staff member or beneficiary. Staff may report offences in one of two ways.
First, they may follow t
he process established by the members for reporting
concerns about inappropriate workplace behaviour. Staff members use the same
complaints mechanisms to report SEA as to report discrimination or
harassment. Second, staff members
employed by CARE
-
USA or it
s country
offices

may report concerns using
a dedicated ‘hotline.’ Managed by an external
vendor, the hotline is available in 150 languages and may be used by all staff to
report all types of wrongful conduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse.
It
ha
s been operating since September 2006. So, while not precisely adapted for
reporting SEA, the mechanisms can nonetheless be used for this purpose.

Project participants and community members can report via the same two
general mechanisms available to staf
f, and, in some locations, via special
mechanisms established by country offices. These country
-
level mechanisms
vary widely. CI
-
Jordan and its partners established a common complaint
mechanism that welcomes complaints from refugees and asylum
-
seekers made

orally or in writing, anonymously or in the complainant’s own name, to CARE
staff or to the staff of any partner organization. At the other extreme, CARE
-
India defines ‘major misconduct’ to include ‘sending or circulating anonymous
letters/mails that rais
e doubts on the integrity or character of other staff or . . .
defamation of fellow employees, be they supervisors or subordinates.’ CARE
-
India strictly prohibits ‘anonymous letters/mails, and states that ‘CARE, as a
policy, does not acknowledge or respond

to such communication.’

Most country office mechanisms, however, fall between these extremes, though
it is not uncommon for written procedures to omit reference to complaints from
project participants, as does CARE
-
Sierra Leone, or, as in the case of CARE
-
Zimbabwe, simply to provide that arrangements will be made for project


17

participants to complain. That country office policy and code of conduct
incorporate IASC Principles, but regarding complaints from project participants
states simply, ‘different repor
ting procedures will be required. With proper
communication and training between CARE and vulnerable individuals, it is
hoped that all cases of this nature can be brought’ forward and resolved.

In what may be an unintended oversight, CARE
-
Bangladesh’s com
plaints
mechanism refers only to ‘harassment’ (not abuse or exploitation) of program
participants, associates or beneficiaries and directs the local gender focal point
who receives such a complaint to ‘try to solve it jointly with the concerned’
CARE proje
ct.

Complaint boxes are typically made available in country
-
office locations for use
by staff, partners, project participants and community members.

None of the lead members provides for a ‘base
-
level’ complaint mechanism on
which, for example, individua
l country offices would be encouraged to build.
Consequently, a staff member in a country office could have recourse to a
complaints mechanism that provides less protection and fewer options than does
the member’s headquarters
-
level mechanism.

3.3.2

What CARE mu
st improve


complaints mechanisms ineffective

Whilst it is commendable that CARE has introduced complaints mechanisms for
staff and beneficiaries, it needs to seriously consider how these mechanisms can
be improved. A key finding of the Review was the abs
ence of any SEA reports to
CARE from any complainant group


CARE personnel, project participants and
communities. The absence of reports should not be construed to mean the
absence of SEA. Interviews with project participants in one location revealed
subs
tantial concerns that were subsequently reported by the Review team. In
other locations, the reviewers learned of vulnerabilities where such abuses could
easily occur. The lack of reports to CARE is also at variance with reporting
numbers from peers: in 20
07 alone,
the two peer organizations included in this
review,

each conducted 12 and 4 investigations. The question is therefore why
potential complainants are not reporting sexual exploitation and abuse?

Or it
could also be simply lack of information about

reports at a centralized location
to be able to report nu
mb
ers of investigations. To address this gap CARE needs
to set up an appropriate monitoring and data collection system on reported
incidents.

3.3.2.1

Barriers to complaining for staff

Why are potential comp
lainants not reporting SEA? Country office visits
revealed a number of barriers that deter staff from complaining, among them
assumptions about what is acceptable behaviour between men and women,
adults and children, the powerful and the powerless.



18

CARE p
ersonnel come from all walks of life, races, ethnicities and religions; like
all of us, they are steeped in the reality of gender
-
based violence that is the
calling card of the low status of women and girls. CARE as an organization
aspires to a higher stan
dard in the hopes of a better world and challenges its
personnel to embody the change they are hired to help bring about. But CARE
personnel cannot shed life
-
long learned beliefs on their first day of work like a
snake sheds its skin. For this reason, it i
s useful to think of the
misunderstanding CARE personnel have over what is SEA (discussed in
section

3.2.2.1

on awareness) as fundamentally a problem of perception. It takes time to
absorb new messages about gender and power until one sees differently. If
the
messages are not there, if no one with authority and credibility is talking about
how SEA plays out among the most vulnerable, staff will never see what is right
in front of them and will never see anything to complain about.

‘Culturalization’ of the

work environment is another barrier to complaining for
staff. This dynamic is illustrated by the comment of one senior manager that
sexual violence in a particular country was so endemic it did not merit a
complaint.

Finally, it was evident that managers

hold personnel who bring forward SEA
concerns to significantly heavier burdens than established SEA guidelines
suggest. In one example, a senior manager related that she received phone calls
from a project coordinator in a remote location about questionab
le behaviour of
certain male staff with female project participants. ‘She could never prove’ any
abuse, the manager said. Similarly, another senior manager said she would not
raise an SEA concern brought to her attention by a staff member, who himself
had
received a verbal report from a project participant, for fear that the lack of
‘proof’ would damage relations with the partner.

Management demands for ‘proof’ of wrongdoing are at odds with BSO
Guidelines
14

that establish a minimum threshold for deciding w
hether to
investigate (not merely to receive) a complaint:

1.

Does the complaint relate to a breach of SEA policy?

2.

Is there a ‘complaint’?

3.

Is there enough information to investigate?

3.3.2.2

Barriers to complaining for beneficiaries

Because CARE’s complaints mecha
nisms are designed with the needs of staff in
mind, they are generally unsuitable for use by project participants and
communities to report SEA. With the exception of one of the country offices



14

BSO Guidelines on Receiving and investigating allegations of abuse and exploitation by
humanitarian workers (2006), page 15



19

visited, complaints
mechanisms have been established without i
nput

from
affected
communities about facilitating SE
A reporting.

Similarly, the mechanisms are largely inaccessible to project participants and
communities. Among other things, their design assumes that users are literate,
that they know the identity of th
e senior country
-
level managers to whom
complaints should be addressed, and that they have the resources and
knowledge to get a complaint into the hands of to the relevant manager. It is
perhaps unsurprising that, responding to the BSO Tally Sheet in 2007,

CARE
-
USA staff stated that 84% of the time they were involved in designing their
organization’s complaint mechanism, but women’s and youth community groups
are involved only 15% and 8% of the time, respectively.

Focal points may or may not exist. In one c
ountry office, the position of gender
advisor normally charged with SEA responsibilities had been vacant for some
time. In another office, a focal point was appointed who has considerable
knowledge of and sensitivity to SEA issues. (Staff members in that o
ffice were
unaware who the focal point was, indicating an area for awareness raising.) The
third office had no focal point.

Staff, project participants and communities alike need to know that CARE
received their complaints and what action it took on them.

Table 7:
What project participants said about complaints mechanisms

Asked what advice they could offer CARE to make it possible for them to raise SEA
concerns, the project participants had these ideas:



clear information on entitlement criteria to enable t
hem to determine whether
they meet eligibility criteria and, if so, whether their receipt of aid is
conditioned upon exchange of any kind



clear explanation of how CARE applies eligibility criteria



accessible complaints mechanisms that take into account the

needs of project
participants who cannot read or write, for whom travel to a distant CARE office
is a practical impossibility, and for whom mobile phones are unavailable or
unaffordable



a safe, neutral intermediary who project participants can see, know a
nd trust
to carry their complaints to CARE.


Table
7
:
Feedback from project participants on complaints mechanisms

3.4

Investigations

It follows that strong investigative capacities are crucial to an organization’s
ability to solicit c
omplaints and enforce the standards it has introduced.
Organizations that meet this benchmark:



20

-

investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in a timely and
professional manner, using appropriate interviewing practice with
complainants and witne
sses, particularly children

-

take appropriate action to protect all parties


complainants, victims,
subjects of complaint, and witnesses


from retaliation or other harm
stemming from the complaint

-

provide basic emergency assistance to victims and complain
ants of sexual
exploitation and abuse

-

protect investigators carrying out their duties from retaliation or other
harm

3.4.1

What CARE is doing well


capacity to conduct safe and fair
investigations

Although CARE has not conducted investigations into allegations

of SEA
(having received no reports via its complaints mechanisms), it has taken steps
to ensure its capacity to meet this benchmark when investigations are carried
out.

3.4.1.1

Guidelines for investigators

CARE
-
USA’s legal department maintains a set of best
-
prac
tice guidelines for
the investigation of allegations of fraud and misconduct. CARE’s investigators
have also been trained in accordance with BSO
-
specific guidelines on SEA
investigations. Together these complementary frameworks ensure CARE an
adequate fram
ework for investigating SEA allegations.

3.4.1.2

Investigative capacity

CARE is
a leader among international NGOs in training its personnel in the
skills needed to investigate allegations of SEA.
Beginning in 2005,
personnel
from across the Confederation have part
icipated in
t
raining sponsored by the
BSO Project (BSO) of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership. A total 22
staff have participated in Management training (3
-
day training for investigation
managers) and/or Investigator training (5
-
day training). Of
these,

-

six completed the full BSO Investigation Learning Programme
(comprising self
-
study, superior
-
level participation in 5
-
day investigator
training, on
-
the
-
job training, further self
-
study, and superior
-
level
participation in 3
-
day follow
-
up investigat
or training), and

-

two are qualified SEA investigation trainers (requiring completion of the
Investigation Learning Programme, self
-
study and completion of 3
-
day
BSO Training of Trainers)



21

3.4.2

What CARE must improve

There is a strong likelihood that CARE will re
ceive reports of SEA if it improves
awareness among its stakeholders and seriously addresses the inadequacy of its
complaints mechanisms for staff, project participants and communities. When
this occurs, CARE is in a good position to respond with safe, con
fidential and
fair investigations. In the meantime, CARE
-
USA may wish to consider how its
best practice guidelines might be shared across the Confederation, and
strategize related matters such as appointing investigation managers and
expert interviewing fo
r children.

3.5

Follow up

The response to complaints of sexual exploitation and abuse does not end with
the investigation, however. It remains for the organization to:

-

discipline misconduct and consider whether the case should be referred
to national authori
ties;

-

prevent perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse from being (re
-
)
hired or (re
-
)deployed;

-

inform personnel and communities on measures taken to prevent and
respond to sexual exploitation and abuse

As noted above, CARE has not had occasion to fol
low up on individual cases. For
this reason, it is not possible to make a finding as to its follow up to individual
cases of SEA. There is ample evidence, however, of CARE’s ability and
willingness to incorporate lessons learned into its overall PSEA strat
egy and
programming.

3.6

Managerial oversight

In all organizations, managers plays a crucial role is PSEA at all levels. Line
manages managers, exercise considerable
de facto

and
de jure

influence over
investigations, and senior managers in the field and at h
eadquarters shape the
overarching organizational policies which should prevent abuse. For this reason,
international standards on PSEA include benchmarks and indicators on the role
of management. They consider:

-

management support for mechanisms to preven
t and respond to SEA

-

the presence of time
-
bound, measurable indicators of progress on PSEA

-

the existence and effectiveness of activities to generate support for PSEA

-

meaningful integration of PSEA into program design and evaluation.



22

3.6.1

What CARE is doing wel
l

Senior management in at least one CARE
lead m
ember is strong. CARE
-
USA
has taken a lead on PSEA work, demonstrating a significant commitment to
addressing SEA through the dedicated of financial and human resources and
the establishment of a specialised P
SEA forum.

3.6.1.1

Dedicated staff resources

CARE
-
USA’s PSEA work is coordinated by two Senior Gender
Eq
ui
ty
and
Diversity (GED) Advisors, one located in India and another in the US. They
devote roughly 75 and 30 per cent of their time to PSEA, respectively, and
r
eport to the Senior Vice
-
President, Global Support Services

in the
organizational structure introduced in early 2008
. The Senior GED Advisors are
outside management and reporting lines. Their responsibilities and activities
include:

-

providing technical adv
ice and training

-

assessing country
-
level PSEA efforts in periodic reports

-

representing CARE on interagency bodies such as InterAction and in
interagency fora such as the December 2006 High
-
Level Meeting on SEA

-

coordinating SEA Advisory Group

-

representing

CARE during interagency peer reviews such as the Steering
Committee for Humanitarian Response

-

managing an annual process of call for proposals and allocation of funds
to small PSEA projects implemented by Country Offices

-

providing regular progress update
s to all staff

-

documenting good practices and lessons learned.

3.6.1.2

Funding for special projects

CARE
-
USA has since 2004 offered country offices across the Confederation
funding for small ($5
-
10,000) PSEA projects. Nearly 30 small projects have been
funded to d
ate. Examples include:

-

CARE
-
Bangladesh
: Development of a contextually appropriate code of
conduct that clarifies behavioral expectations for staff, procedures that
facilitate SEA reporting, and communication with project participants
about the standards of

conduct and reporting mechanisms.

-

CARE
-
Burundi
: In connection with a study exploring how sex is used for
power in Burundi, engagement with a local interactive theater group to
stimulate dialogue among project participants on the theme of ‘is sex
power’



23

-

CA
RE
-
International in Jordan

(phase I): SEA capacity
-
building for
CARE and partner staff; establishment of referral, reporting and
investigation procedures, promotion of the procedures within the
beneficiary community, and publication of the procedures in bo
oklet form

CARE
-
USA has also funded the PSEA projects in Bangladesh, Burundi,
Georgia, India, Rwanda, Peru, Tajikistan, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, DRC,
Jordan (phase II), Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Nepal, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Bolivia and a regional pro
posal in the Latin and Central American Region.

3.6.1.3

Establishment of the SEA Advisory Group

In April 2007 CARE
-
USA announced the creation of an SEA Advisory Group
under the sponsorship of two of its high
-
level executives, the Senior Vice
President for Program
s and Senior Vice President,

Global Support Services.

The
group’s purpose is to guide and advise CARE staff on PSEA ‘policy,
programmatic and organizational issues’ in both relief and development
contexts. Specific tasks include identification of annual gl
obal priorities and
resource requirements for SEA work including implementation of SCHR Peer
Review recommendations, awareness raising and promotion of region
-
specific
plans, oversight of implementation and monitoring systems, and liaison
externally and wi
thin CARE on SEA issues.

Membership is limited to 12, an optimum size from past experience, and is
comprised of male and female staff from headquarters and the field, different
regions and organizational functions, the CARE
-
International Secretariat and
o
ther CARE
-
International members. The group’s terms of reference envisage
rotation and/or replacement of individual members depending upon need. Lead
members were invited to nominate representatives to the group however CARE
-
Canada and CARE
-
Australia have y
et to do so.

CARE
-
USA’s Senior GED Advisors coordinate the group’s work with funding
from CARE
-
USA.

The SEA Advisory Group met in May 2007 in Bangkok; some members
participated in the February 2008 SEA Meeting in Cairo.

3.6.1.4

SEA Review

This SEA Review i
s another example of CARE
-
USA’s commitment to
implementing the 3 Phase Approach. CARE
-
USA supported the Review with a
substantial budget (more than USD

6
0,000) and the time and expertise of two
Senior GED Advisors.

Other CARE entities have made substantia
l contributions to integrating PSEA
within the larger humanitarian community,
CARE
-
Austria through its
contributions to the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health in Humanitarian


24

Emergencies (2007) and CARE International in Jordan, as the regional focal
point fo
r the BSO
-
sponsored Middle East Regional Network.

3.6.2

What CARE must improve

3.6.2.1

Significant gaps in leadership and incentives

Country directors with long experience in CARE showed an understanding of
the issues, if not the details of the Secretary General’s Bull
etin and the IASC
Principles. One voiced frustration over the lack of a single Confederation
-
wide
policy and code of conduct to guide staff, and asked that one be adopted. A
second expressed the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ should lack of resources lead to
i
nadequate implementation of SEA protections; having seen lives shattered
when SEA allegations were handled unprofessionally, she knew the potential for
harm from a poor response. Predictably, and understandably, all wondered how
to devote time to implement
ing SEA protections when other needs were so
pressing. Where was the incentive, one asked, when SEA does not feature in the
evaluation of a country director’s performance, donors insist only on financial
accountability, and the UN does not police itself?


3.6.2.2

Poor awareness among middle managers

As noted above in
sections
3.2.2.1

and
3.2.2.3
, middle managers overall exhibit
poor awareness of SEA, its dynamics and international PSEA standards.

3.6.2.3

Multinational and decentralized structure

The Review findings, espe
cially those on standards and contextualization, point
to CARE’s

internationali
z
ed and decentrali
z
ed structure

as contributing factors
in the challenges to incorporating PSEA principles across the Confederation.
On
the one hand,
CARE
is a confederation,
so

no one member ha
s power over the
others. On the other, it is a ‘multinational’, with country offices
that
exercis
e
a
fair degree of autonomy. Neither of those things
is
bad in and of themselves. But
they do present challenges in terms of addressing SEA, p
rotecting CARE’s
reputation and upholding the values on whic
h its good reputation is based.

4

Recommendations

Based on the foregoing, and in the interests of furthering CARE’s commitment to
prevent and respond to SEA by its personnel, these recommendations a
re made.

1.
Inform the CI and lead member Boards
of Directors of this Review’s findings
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.

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E瀮㄰FI

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25

have an overview of the extent of sexual exploitation by CARE staff, and to
monitor trends. It needs to establish a clear ambition for the confederation
about how CARE sho
uld tackle the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Ultimately, the Board needs to be convinced that CARE is taking all reasonable
steps to prevent malpractice, and to take redress where necessary. It is the
opinion of the review team that the Boar
d would currently not have the
necessary information to make this judgment.


2.
Seek a mandate from the CI and lead member Boards of Directors to
e
stablish SEA standards
consistent with IASC Principles
across the
Confederation.


To achieve this goal, it i
s further recommended:

a)

CARE International

should adopt a
common

C
onfederation
-
level SEA
policy and Code of Conduct

consistent with IASC Principles
.

b)

All
CARE
members and country offices should be directed to adopt the
C
onfederation
-
level

SEA policy and Cod
e of Conduct.

c)

Country office staff should be invited to engage in dialogue aimed at
understanding the
SEA
policy and Code of Conduct in view of the cultural
context in which they operate,
without changing the policy or code
themselves.

d)

Sexual harassment sh
ould be
defined and
addressed in a separate policy
.

Already a key recommendation of the SCHR Peer Review, efforts have been
underway since late 2007 to establish a common policy. A proposed policy

has
been shared with the CARE SEA Advisory Group.


CARE wi
ll also need to c
larify issues surrounding involvement of sex workers
in paid program outreach activities

and add guidance on this point to the
common policy
.


3.
Establish clear
expectations and accountabilities for the prevention and
response to SEA
.


To achieve this goal, it is further recommended:

a)

The
CARE International

should designate a lead member for SEA
authorized to establish and implement accountability measures
. These
should
aid members and country offices to meet their responsibilities
und
er the
Confederation
-
level
SEA policy

and
Code of Conduct
, including
by ensuring
implementation of community
-
level awareness
-
raising and
establish
ment of

accessible complaints mechanisms
.

b)

Institute comprehensive PSEA training for top managers and country
d
irectors across the Confederation to ensure understanding and
leadership on SEA.



26

c)

Clarify the SEA Advisory Group’s mandate as a Confederation one and
motivate members to ensure representation on the group.

d)

Establish a high
-
level oversight system to monitor
PSEA concerns
reported and actions taken by different CARE offices and report overall
progress, gaps and recommend actions to improve PSEA measures.

Despite the time, staff energy and resources CARE has devoted to PSEA, it is
not possible to determine the
extent of SEA in CARE programs
at
present.

The absence of coordination and clear accountability within the
C
onfederation and within members themselves on PSEA hampers CARE’s
efforts, leaving project participants and communities vulnerable to abuse and
the
organization uncertain to what extent its efforts have been effective.


The designation of an official lead member for SEA should not imply that sole
responsibility for SEA rests with that member. Rather, a useful model could
be the one CARE uses to coordi
nate its disaster relief work where members
lead in the key areas and CI provides overall coordination. A shared model of
this type, but with oversight authority in one member, could significantly
strengthen the confederation and protect project participan
ts against SEA by
CARE personnel.


4.
Integrate PSEA into program design, monitoring, evaluation and ongoing
learning.


To achieve this goal, it is further recommended:

a)

Include
PSEA in routine program design checklists. Assess SEA risks
and develop strat
egies to address them in program design
,
implementation, monitoring

and
evaluation. Integrate PSEA standards,
performance and accountability measures in the CARE Emergency
Toolkit.

b)

Establish performance measures to track PSEA implementation and
compliance.

c)

Use the SEA Advisory Group

and

CI Program Quality Working Group to
collect and disseminate PSEA
-
related lessons learned to program
contexts.

d)

Ensure a feedback mechanism to gauge whether lessons learned are
integrated into programming.