The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is fully committed to creating a safe, inclusive and dignified environment for the communities we serve, and for all volunteers and staff.
IFRC does not tolerate any form of harassment, bullying and abuse.
Our rules are clear: IFRC does not tolerate any form of harassment, bullying or abuse – sexual or otherwise. All IFRC staff are bound by a Code of Conduct that sets out clear standards against harassment, abuse and discrimination as well as the responsibility of all staff to report any concerns or suspicions regarding any violation. This code applies to everyone working under a IFRC contract or under IFRC’s legal status anywhere in the world – around 1,680 people in 2018.
Recruits are not only expected to read, understand and sign the Code of Conduct before starting to work with us, but also to continue to meet and uphold its standards and obligations, which include the responsibility to report all concerns or suspicions regarding misconduct.
Staff members are also bound by Anti-Harassment Guidelines and policies on Fraud and Corruption Prevention and Child Protection, and are shielded by a Whistleblower Protection policy. Free online training is available for all of these alongside IFRC’s Stay Safe personal security course.
In June 2018, IFRC introduced a new policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), which states that ‘sexual exploitation and abuse of the people IFRC aims to assist is one of the most grievous ways in which the IFRC can fail in its mission’.
This is another step in an ongoing process of improving how IFRC safeguards the vulnerable persons of any gender identity we work alongside and prevent any abuses from taking place, and strengthening how we respond to those that have nevertheless occurred.
The PSEA policy reinforces and complements existing strict rules against exploitation and abuse and sets out clear responsibilities for all personnel. These include completing mandatory PSEA training; reporting any PSEA incidents they have witnessed, have heard about, or suspect; the obligation to cooperate fully with any investigation, and the obligation to ensure the confidentiality of any reported incident.
In situations of harassment, abuse, discrimination or exploitation, our first loyalty is to those affected.
The independent and confidential Safecall whistleblowing system has been in place since 2009 and can be used by anyone – not only Red Cross and Red Crescent personnel – to raise the alarm about any misconduct.
Staff can also report concerns to IFRC’s Office of Internal Audit and Investigations (OIAI). OIAI’s internal investigations team manages investigations and depending on the need commissions additional independent professionals to conduct investigations around the world.
IFRC also performs background checks on job applicants before an offer of employment is made.
IFRC is committed to ensuring that survivors of harassment, abuse and exploitation receive the support they need.
IFRC has a full time Senior Health Officer based in Geneva, available to provide guidance and support globally. The IFRC has a psychosocial support (PSP) programme, which includes a PSP coordinator based in Geneva who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A global network of stress counsellors is also available to offer support.
“We want to ensure that allegations of abuse and misconduct are always reported and always investigated. And, wherever such allegations are substantiated, we will ensure that the person responsible is always held accountable. – Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Secretary General
More can and should be done to address, prevent and punish misconduct
IFRC is fully aware that harassment, abuse and exploitation are under-reported in every line of work and every country in the world, and we recognize that more can and should be done to address, prevent, and punish such misconduct.
We will continue to work with staff to ensure that our handling of these issues continues to improve, and will actively increase familiarity with, and confidence in, the Safecall platform and the policies that are in place.