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Worldwide solution to abuse by aid workers proposed in new guidelines – University of Reading

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Worldwide solution to abuse by aid workers proposed in new guidelines

Release Date 22 February 2018

Specific policies aimed at protecting children from harm should be written up by international peacekeepers, the researchers argue

A new set of guidelines is being presented to international aid organisations to help minimise the kind of human rights abuse seen in the recent Oxfam scandal in Haiti.

The University of Reading’s Peacekeeper or Perpetrator? project team has partnered with international child protection network Keeping Children Safe to bring a toolkit to UN peacekeeping operations to assist them in tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The recently-published guidelines are based on international child safeguarding standards and good practice from peacekeeping operations and training from around the world, including in Haiti, Liberia, Sweden and the UK.

It provides a self-audit tool, an example of a risk assessment and an explanation of how the project team can work with an organisation to improve and implement child safeguarding. The aim is to address both the causes and consequences of harm that can be caused inadvertently by the work of peacekeepers or, on occasions, results from deliberate abuse.

Professor Rosa Freedman, Professor of Law, Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading, and an author of the guidelines, said: “We hope the lessons we took from our observations will help create a better, more responsible future. We are working hand in hand with international peacekeepers to minimise the shocking examples of abuse going on all over the world every single day.

“Attempts to reform the UN system have thus far been piecemeal and have not addressed a complex problem that requires nuanced and targeted responses. While there is general agreement about what needs to be done to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, very few practical solutions have been proposed, let alone implemented. Through these guidelines, we hope to show tangible change is entirely possible.”

The guidelines emphasise four central standards, including assisting organisations to develop a child safeguarding policy, communicate clear expectations to staff, and to monitor and review these measures.

The guidelines, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, are currently being tested and implemented in UN entities, national militaries and peacekeeping training centres.

The publication of the UN guidelines follows a public lecture held by the Peacekeeper or Perpetrator? Team, and hosted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in London in November 2017. The event focused on the issue of protecting children around the world and the issue of gender equality within the UN.


About Peacekeeper or Perpetrator?

The project involves researchers across multiple disciplines tackling the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse carried out by peacekeepers around the world. Conducted in coordination with civil society organisations within host countries and troop-contributing countries, and with the UN and member states, the group has developed a robust method for safeguarding children in peacekeeping operations.

About Keeping Children Safe

Keeping Children Safe was established in 2001 by a group of leading humanitarian relief and development charities in the context of emerging reports that children were being abused by aid and development workers in emergency camps in West Africa and within their own organisations.

Keeping Children Safe represents a commitment by organisations worldwide to protect children by developing and promoting a set of robust and comprehensive International Child Safeguarding Standards that all organisations can and should follow.

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