Belgium signs international commitments against sexual misconduct in the aid sector

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

Alexander De Croo: “The last year, a number of scandals of sexual abuse in the international aid sector emerged. Women, children and persons with a disability are always the first victims. With the signing of these international commitments, Belgium and 18 other countries give a clear signal of zero-tolerance for this kind of disgusting misconduct”.

Earlier this year, Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo already tightened the integrity obligations for all Belgian development actors. This came in the wake of a number of abuse scandals, including within the British branch of OXFAM. Development organizations must develop a code of ethics and invest in integrity trainings. They also have the obligation to put in place a confidential point of contact and give regular updates on complaints received.

The new international commitments which Belgium endorsed today build upon these stricter integrity obligations and 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 minimum standards and make 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 an instrument in the coming months to better prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and intimidation in development cooperation, and to better manage risks. The signatory countries will evaluate the progress after a period of twelve months.

Besides Belgium, the following countries also signed the commitments to tackle 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 (PDF, 55.66 KB).