In light of the revelations about abuse and exploitation within aid and development, Conciliation Resources welcomes the increased attention on this important issue. We also support the International Development Secretary in her drive to improve safeguarding across the sector.
At Conciliation Resources, the protection of our staff, volunteers, partners and crucially those we work for, is of primary importance. As a respected international peacebuilding organisation, our work is based on building trusted, long-term relationships and encouraging dialogue and difficult conversations to be had. We therefore foster an internal and external culture of respect, inclusion and collaboration – with everyone’s voice being heard and all staff, partners and beneficiaries being encouraged to speak up. Bullying, exploitation or abuse in any form are simply not tolerated.
Conciliation Resources employs 51 staff, based mainly in the UK. We work in genuine, two-way partnerships with local, national and international organisations, and conflict-affected communities around the world.
Like others receiving UK Aid funding, we have provided DFID with assurances of our policies and practices relating to safeguarding. We have complaints, whistleblowing, bullying and harassment, and disciplinary procedures in place, which are clearly communicated. We also undertake training with staff to ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected and what to do if they have any issues or concerns.
To date, we have no recorded incidences of sexual abuse, harassment, misconduct or exploitation involving either ourselves or our overseas partners.
However, we are not complacent. We are aware that there are always improvements which can be made and we are committed to meeting the high standards expected of all organisations working in international aid and development. As a member of international development umbrella group, Bond, we are involved in cross-sector initiatives to improve safeguarding. We also attended the recent safeguarding conference convened by the Secretary of State, where we signed up to the collective actions that we will all take.
Specifically, at Conciliation Resources we are taking a number of immediate steps and planning further long-term actions to improve our approach to safeguarding:
- We will undertake a review of all our systems relating to safeguarding, to ensure that we are placing beneficiaries at the centre and are accountable to any beneficiaries, staff or partners who in the future may suffer exploitation, abuse or violence.
- We will create a new safeguarding policy and related procedures which will include work on: behavioural protocols; education and training; safe programme design; safeguarding as part of risk assessments and safeguarding as a consideration in recruitment.
- We will establish a Safeguarding Working Group, which includes our Senior Adviser Gender and Peacebuilding and our Diversity and Inclusion Adviser. This group will plan practical safeguarding measures and work to continue to develop our organisational culture to tackle any power imbalances and gender inequality.
- We will continue to deliver training to all staff and continue communicating clearly with staff, partners, consultants and any others working with us, to ensure our high standards of behaviour are met.
- We will strengthen our recruitment procedures so that safeguards are integrated throughout the employment cycle, meaning strong checks are in place at the start of employment and that strong codes of conduct are regularly reinforced through training and performance management.
- We will review our reporting and complaints mechanisms, to ensure that any misconduct that occurs under the banner of our organisation, including by sub-contractors and partners, is appropriately dealt with. We will pursue all reported misconduct to the fullest extent, for our own staff, in our own organisational procedures and refer to regulatory authorities in the UK and overseas. We will work with other organisations to share relevant information on staff and volunteers who have committed acts which breach standards of conduct.
8 March 2018