Policy paper

Safeguarding Summit 2018: Host's Outcome Summary

Host’s Outcome Summary: “Putting People First: Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment in the Aid Sector. London Summit, 18 October 2018”


Host’s Outcome Summary Document: “Putting People First: Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment in the Aid Sector. London Summit, 18 October 2018”

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Aid must be delivered in a way which does no harm. If not, we will have failed in our duty to protect the most vulnerable. We must deter wrongdoing and hold those who do wrong to account, including prosecutions by law enforcement agencies if justified.

Everything we have agreed today is driven by our determination to prevent this from happening in the first place, listen to those who are affected when it does, respond robustly but sensitively and learn from every case.

We commit to deliver 4 long term fundamental changes - or strategic shifts - to fundamentally rewrite the way the aid sector operates, from root to branch. Together we will:

  • ensure support for survivors, victims and whistle-blowers; enhance accountability and transparency; strengthen reporting; and tackle impunity
  • incentivise cultural change through strong leadership, organisational accountability and better human resource processes
  • adopt global standards and ensure they are met or exceeded
  • strengthen organisational capacity and capability across the international aid sector to meet these standards

Donors (representing 90% of global aid), the United Nations, International Financial Institutions, CDC (the UK’s Development Finance Institution) and representatives of hundreds of major British NGOs, contractors and research organisations each presented commitments stating what they will do to achieve these changes.


Our upmost priority is to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment from happening. We are introducing practical measures at key stages of the employment cycle to identify and root out predatory individuals.

UK NGOs with support from DFID will test a “passport” for aid workers to prove an individual’s identity, provide background information on previous employment and vetting status. A new Disclosure of Misconduct Scheme across the NGO sector will prevent known perpetrators moving around undetected – 15 organisations have signed up to this so far, amounting to 50,000 staff working in many countries.

Interpol, with financial support from DFID, will pilot a new system to improve background checks on staff who work in the aid sector and provide advice to employers on international vetting and identify high-risk individuals. This will also lead to better information sharing across borders and help close the net on criminals.

All major donors have today committed to global standards on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and will demand their partners also adhere to the highest standards of ethical behaviour, robust recruitment and complaints processes and accountability to beneficiaries. Donors have also agreed to strengthen funding and due diligence processes to ensure they reflect these new stronger standards.

This will bring greater consistency, clarity and coherence and ensure all organisations who receive development funding put the protection of beneficiaries at their very core. It will help them know how to respond and who to inform.


To really tackle sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment from occurring, we need to listen to those we serve. This was reiterated strongly during the morning session and in response the International Development Secretary handed over her closing speaking slot so more of those voices could be heard. This is about a fundamental cultural change that this sector needs. We agreed to actively include beneficiaries in the design and monitoring of programmes and do everything we can to break down the barriers to reporting, without fear of reprisals. The Disasters Emergency Committee will explore with members joint complaint-handling systems for raising concerns in future responses and review how they respond to community feedback including complaints in humanitarian situations. We also agreed on the need to listen to and act on information about reports of wrongdoing and high-risk individuals.


Wherever and whenever sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment occurs, we must take a victim-centred approach and respond in line with the rights and wishes of those affected. We agreed to support the UN Victims’ Rights Advocate to map out support services available to survivors and establish a Statement of Rights for victims. This will provide much clearer guidance on how to put victim and survivors first and support those affected to understand and claim their rights. We will provide guidance and training on prevention and response to all relevant staff. An effective response may also require robust law enforcement action.


Our absolute commitment and shared efforts to put people first and tackle sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment in the aid sector will continue in the years ahead. We will learn quickly as new evidence and opportunities emerge. We announced major new funding for research into safeguarding. We also announced the launch of a Resource and Support Hub to provide guidance drawing on the latest research alongside support and training to NGOs and others. This will include access to investigators who can go into organisations to root out wrongdoing. Donors will have their work on tackling sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment regularly reviewed by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Next Steps

We agreed to be accountable for delivery and to report on progress. Each set of commitments from the different groups can be found here. Each group has included specific follow-up actions to monitor and measure progress.

Today is an important moment. We have come together as a sector to ensure we put people first, especially those most at risk or who are victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. The actions agreed today also send a clear message to those who think they can use the cover of the aid sector to exploit, abuse and harass the vulnerable: your time is up.

UK Department for International Development, London, 18th October 2018

See all commitment documents and publications related to the summit.

Published 19 October 2018