CHS Alliance advocates for protection from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment at Bond Safeguarding for Development Conference in the UK

6 December 2019

The CHS Alliance works with our members and other experts across the sector, encouraging organisations to have the systems in place to protect people from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. To drive this work forward, CHS Alliance staff recently participated in panels at the second Bond Safeguarding for Development Conference. The conference took place on 2 December and brought together safeguarding practitioners from across the Bond membership and wider sector. The conference shared sector progress, expertise and learning around safeguarding and prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the international aid sector.

Participants at the second Bond Safeguarding for Development Conference. Photo credit – Bond.

Standards and good safeguarding

CHS Alliance Head of Programme & Partnerships, Jules Frost spoke at a session on international standards and good safeguarding. The session looked at the standards available to organisations and delved into how to use standards to drive better practice. Chaired by Megan Norbert, International Relief Committee’s Director of Safeguarding, panelists represented diverse organisations including Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Rainforest Foundation. The panel considered how to use standards to promote best practice and encourage better organisational policies and practices, as well as methods to contextualize and harmonise standards.

Jules explained the strong links between the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), accountability to affected people and good people management in the context of safeguarding. She shared that although it was not designed as a specific PSEA tool, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse is woven throughout the Standard. She also highlighted the relevance of the CHS to development organisations as well as humanitarian ones.

Jules also discussed how sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment are deeply rooted in unequal power dynamics. Shifting the power and tackling inequities is something the sector must address.

“We know that sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment occur in contexts where people are exploited by unequal power dynamics. Brave leadership is required to address the power and gender imbalances that undermine the achievement of humanitarian and development goals.” Jules Frost, Head of Programmes & Partnerships, CHS Alliance.


Mayumi Fuchi, Global Programme Accountability & Learning Lead, Islamic Relief Worldwide spoke about how the CHS has driven significant improvements in their organisation. “I have clearly seen a strong momentum within IRW, and the CHS has become one of the most significant drivers and influence for change in improving accountability and safeguarding practices. The CHS has become the means to benchmark and develop good practice tools. 

“The CHS also offers specific guidance on mainstreaming safeguarding in different functions of operations. We don’t just look at the programme but we also focus on HR and finance. With HR, we’ve carefully examined our recruitment process, as well as revising our code of conduct to explicitly state the importance of safeguarding and PSEA. We’ve also looked at how we conduct induction on safeguarding – what kind of behaviours are expected of them, what are the implication of breaching the code of conduct, to how to report SEA concerns if you have any.” 

Whistleblowing and protection

Whistleblower protection was also looked at in detail on a separate panel. The CHS Alliance is working closely with our members to develop new whistleblowing protection guidelines, which highlights the importance of protecting whistleblowers in order to encourage and escalate protection issues. This work follows news of the European Union’s recent directive on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law. The CHS Alliance guidelines will outline best practice in whistleblower protection policy including the scope, reporting channels, investigation methods, protection against retaliation, access to independent adjudication, and awareness-raising.

These collective efforts to reduce the incidence of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the sector are being led through the CHS Alliance PSEAH Contact Group. The Contact Group is made up of Alliance members who share insights and information on PSEAH and provide input into the development of materials on the issue.

For more information on the Contact Group, please contact Jules Frost.