Digna

Global Affairs Canada Requirements​

"Canada strongly condemns all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse in international assistance. We all have the responsibility to step up to address these issues and produce a real shift in how we work. Appropriate steps must be taken to prevent, respond to, and protect beneficiaries of Canadian international assistance funding from sexual exploitation and abuse."
Global Affairs Canada has established two requirements for organizations that receive funding under Canada’s International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Envelope: 
1
DEVELOP A CODE OF CONDUCT

The first requirement is to develop, publicize and enforce a code of conduct for all the organization’s staff (volunteer or paid) that explicitly prohibits sexual exploitation and abuse before receiving funding, or no later than six months after signing a contribution agreement. This requirement is set out in the General Terms and Conditions of Contribution Agreements, Section 22.6 “Sexual Misconduct.”

If you currently do not have a Code of Conduct (CoC) that explicitly prohibits sexual exploitation and abuse, AQOCI has created a CoC template with the goal of facilitating work  and meeting Global Affairs Canada’s requirements regarding PSEA.

Digna has collected a growing list of Codes of Conduct created by agencies across Canada that you may find useful. You can find them here.

Do not over complicate your code – the main point is to clearly state your expectations for staff, volunteers and partners.

2
Report any allegation of SEA received to GAC

The second requirement is to report any allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse received linked to a project funded by the Canadian government. There is a specific report form. Reporting Form – Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance (to view the form click on the link, download it to your computer and open it with Adobe Reader).  

 

Cases should be reported as soon as possible after receipt of an allegation. Please note that partners are directly and solely responsible for investigating cases, this reporting is to allow for analysis of trends and issues. “Global Affairs Canada also expects partners to report annually to the public on the number of alleged and confirmed cases of sexual exploitation and abuse including measures taken.” 

“To protect the privacy of victims, survivors, whistleblowers and alleged perpetrators, organizations should not provide any information that could identify the individuals involved. All information should be treated as private and confidential.”

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Definitions

Category: Definitions

Sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

Category: Definitions

Sexual abuse is any actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. All sexual activity with a child is considered as sexual abuse.

Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Not knowing or mistaking the age of a child is not a defence.

Category: Definitions

Sexual harassment is not SEA. Sexual harassment refers to prohibited conduct in the work context and can be committed against UN staff and related personnel. In context of the United Nations, sexual harassment primarily describes prohibited behaviour against another UN staff or related personnel, which may also include nationals of the host state. It is defined for UN staff by ST/SGB/2008/5 and similar directives for uniformed personnel and involves any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favour, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, or any other behaviour of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Canada and PSEA

Category: Canada and PSEA

Canada has zero tolerance for SEA in the context of international assistance, and zero tolerance for inaction. Canada expects their partners to use survivor-centered approaches.

For more information, please click here.

Category: Canada and PSEA

Canada continues to participate in global PSEA efforts and is committed to working with other donors and partner organizations to prevent, address and respond to SEA in the delivery of international assistance. In June 2018, Canada used the G7 presidency platform to negotiate the Whistler Declaration on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance. Under this declaration, G7 development ministers committed to working together with their partners to protect individuals from, and respond to, sexual exploitation and abuse in international assistance. Canada is also a signatory to the Tidewater Joint Statement on Combating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Development and Humanitarian Sectors.

Canada is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) Reference Group on SEA. Building on the commitments Canada made with other donors, the Reference Group prepared the OECD-DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance, adopted in July 2019.

Finally, in October 2018, Canada endorsed donor commitments at the Safeguarding Summit hosted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and is a member of the United Kingdom’s Technical Working Group on Safeguarding. Canada continues to work with the UN to support initiatives that strengthen the international response to SEA. Canada has supported the UN’s efforts by providing financial support to the UN Office of the Special Coordinator on improving the United Nations response to SEA and to the UN Trust Fund in support of victims of these acts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership and supports the Collective Statement of its members. Canada is also a signatory to the UN Secretary-General’s Voluntary Compact on preventing and addressing SEA and the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration.

Category: Canada and PSEA

Global Affairs Canada has established two mechanisms for ensuring the PSEA remains a top priority in the Canadian context: Digna, and the GAC PSEA Unit.

Category: Canada and PSEA

Digna’s mandate is to help Canadian international development and humanitarian organizations improve their ability to PSEA in the delivery of international assistance towards their program participants – particularly women and girls. Digna aims to increase awareness of, access to, and use of gender-responsive policies and good practices to PSEA.

Digna has no mandate to monitor compliance for whether organizations are meeting GAC requirements, but instead supports organizations in living up to their responsibilities and accountability requirements.

Category: Canada and PSEA

Digna is not a survivor support centre, and cannot offer intervention, legal advice, or serve as a reporting agency on behalf of survivors. However, our mandate includes examining the feasibility of establishing support services in the future. In addition, Digna has and will continue to produce resources that provide information on support services to both survivors and Canadian organizations. In addition, a list of identified Canadian resources and professionals that can offer support services will be published on their site in the coming months. 

To learn more about Digna please click here.

Category: Canada and PSEA

The PSEA unit provides several functions related to improving GAC’s PSEA efforts:

The unit also works closely with Digna to ensure coherence and information sharing with the sector as a whole.

GAC’s PSEA Requirements

GAC has two requirements related to PSEA: 1) codes of conduct that explicitly prohibit sexual exploitation and abuse, and 2) reporting any credible allegations to the PSEA unit.

Codes of conduct

Category: Codes of conduct

Absolutely! GAC will accept a code of conduct or a specific policy that covers PSEA. Either or is permitted.

Category: Codes of conduct

One of Digna’s objectives is to make resources on PSEA more accessible to Canadian organizations and their partners. Digna has collected a growing list of resources created by agencies across Canada and around the world. You can find examples of Codes of conduct from Canadian and international organizations here.

AQOCI has also created a template that you can find here.      

Category: Codes of conduct

One of Digna’s objectives is to make resources on PSEA more accessible to Canadian organizations and their partners. Digna has collected a growing list of resources created by agencies across Canada and around the world. You can find examples of PSEA policies here.

Reporting allegations to the PSEA unit

The intent of requiring reporting is to ensure adequate measures are in place to address cases. GAC expects partners to have anonymous and confidential reporting mechanisms available to ensure that all allegations against organizations can be reported appropriately. These reports offer the necessary documentation to ensure best practices are being taken by the organization. GAC will track allegations to analyze trends and issues in SEA in international assistance. This information will be used to foster and support more effective prevention and response strategies with respect to SEA.

Canadian organizations funded by Global Affairs Canada are expected to report any credible allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse that arise in the delivery of international assistance related to their programming or organization.

Individuals wishing to report an allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse should report directly to the organization concerned. Organizations should have mechanisms in place to receive and respond to confidential reports.

GAC expects partner organizations to report allegations within 48 hours of determining that an allegation is credible.

An allegation is credible when the source, nature, and information provided suggest that the allegation is plausible and warrants further investigation. Credibility does not mean that there must be proof before an investigation has begun. Any doubts about credibility should not delay investigation or reporting. GAC will let you know if the case is not considered SEA. When in doubt: REPORT.

48-hours applies once the Canadian organization has determined that a report is credible enough to pursue an investigation. The 48-hour window does not apply from the time since the alleged act, or since the allegation was made.

Cases occurring in the delivery of international assistance by Canadian-funded organizations include SEA cases that:

  • are perpetrated by staff or associated personnel working on an initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada;
  • may have a negative impact on the reputation of Global Affairs Canada or of a partner funded by Global Affairs Canada.

Please fill out the Reporting Form – Sexual exploitation and abuse allegations in international assistance and email it to the Global Affairs Canada PSEA Focal Point at PSEA-PEAS@international.gc.ca.

To protect the privacy of victims, survivors, whistleblowers and alleged perpetrators, organizations should not provide any information that could identify the individuals involved. All information will be treated as private and confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act. Information on allegations is stored in accordance with Canada’s privacy act provisions and respects the highest confidentiality.

The available form was developed to ensure that no personal information is shared with GAC. Any information that would permit us to identify the person should be omitted.

The form is divided in two parts. The first part is about informing GAC of an allegation. It asks for a basic summary of the allegation, any plans surrounding the investigation as well as what support is being provided to the survivor. 

The second part is meant to inform GAC of the outcome of the investigation and any actions taken when the information becomes available.

The PSEA Unit is the centralized unit dedicated to receiving SEA allegations. All communications on cases should go to or through them. The PSEA unit files all reporting forms and flags cases on a need-to-know basis with relevant staff at headquarters and admissions without sharing sensitive or confidential details.

GAC will acknowledge receipt of all allegations. They may request further information. However, they will not ask for information that could identify any of the individuals involved. Upon receipt of a reporting form, the unit analyzes the report with particular attention to how the survivor-centered approach was considered. They also look at the results and findings of the investigation (organizations are directly responsible for investigations of cases reported to them), as well as lessons learned in an internal report response from the organization. While the unit does not engage in the details of the investigation, it does monitor case updates from partners to ensure they are progressing in their investigations in a timely and survivor-centered manner. The team will also answer questions or provide guidance as needed. Therefore, GAC both expects and trusts that partners will be transparent, diligent and timely in their investigation of allegations and in any related actions they may take.

The PSEA unit files all reporting forms and flags cases on a need-to-know basis with relevant staff at headquarters and admissions without sharing sensitive or confidential details.

The available form was developed to ensure that no personal information is shared with GAC. In addition, any information that would permit GAC to identify the person should be omitted.

The reporting of cases is separate from the process for deciding who receives funding. When a case is received by the PSEA unit, it is handled with the utmost confidentiality with respect to privacy act.

Partners are expected to report all cases to Global Affairs Canada, so reporting shows that the organization is taking the issue seriously and is abiding by the requirements that are clearly outlined. There is a zero tolerance for inaction; so if it is found that an organization did not report, that is a bigger risk, and may compromise access to funding.

As organizations put in place better reporting systems, they may receive more allegations. Therefore, reporting allegations shows that your organization is making progress on prevention, as counter intuitive as it may sound. Reporting a case, responding to it, and managing it appropriately shows that your organization is responsible and diligent.

The form is meant to be confidential enough to not violate any laws around privacy that may exist in other countries. GAC is not trying to dictate how organizations’ work should be done in any particular country. They expect that all organizations respect the country laws where they work.

To protect the privacy of victims, survivors, whistleblowers and alleged perpetrators, organizations should not provide any information that could identify the individuals involved. All information will be treated as private and confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act. The available form was developed to ensure that no personal information is shared with GAC. In addition, any information that would permit us to identify the person should be omitted.

Information on allegations is stored in accordance with Canada’s privacy act provisions and respects the highest confidentiality.

The actions of partner organizations are the responsibility of Canadian organizations funded by GAC, as stated on the Contribution Agreement – General Terms and Conditions, article 22.6 on sexual misconduct:

  • 22.6.3 The Organization shall provide access to its CoC to all Personnel, Local Partners and Ultimate Recipients, and shall promote protection from SEA. The Organization shall ensure that all Personnel, Local Partners and Ultimate Recipients shall either: a) sign an attestation stating they shall respect the Organization’s CoC, or b) adopt their own policies and procedures to prevent SEA that shall be in keeping with the goals and objectives of the Organization’s CoC.
  • 22.6.5 The Organization shall notify the Department of any credible allegation of SEA in the delivery of Canadian international assistance which may involve the Department’s funding or which could put the Department’s funding or reputation at risk within forty eight (48) hours after determining that an allegation is credible.

Organizations can be impacted worldwide if allegations are made public, regardless of the location or regional office responsible where the incident happened. Therefore, a reputational risk can include any allegation related to the name of the organization. Local partners, even if their specific program funding is not affiliated with GAC, can be required to adopt your code of conduct in contract obligations. Therefore, even with no financial link to GAC, it can still cause a reputational risk to your organization. When in doubt, report.

Investigations

Category: Investigations

Organizations are directly responsible for investigations of cases reported to them. While GAC does not engage in the details of investigations, it does monitor case updates from partners to ensure they are progressing in their investigations in a timely and survivor-centered manner.

Sexual Harassment

For broader safeguarding or sexual harassment concerns, partner organizations should continue to follow current practice and inform their GAC project officer if the issue will affect project implementation.

Category: Sexual Harassment

GAC has subscribed to the UN definitions on sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as[1]:

Sexual harassment is not SEA. Sexual harassment refers to prohibited conduct in the work context and can be committed against UN staff and related personnel. In context of the United Nations, sexual harassment primarily describes prohibited behaviour against another UN staff or related personnel, which may also include nationals of the host state. It is defined for UN staff by ST/SGB/2008/5 and similar directives for uniformed personnel and involves any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favour, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, or any other behaviour of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment is misconduct that happens within the work environment. As such, victims of misconduct that happens in the workplace are supposed to be supported by provisions in labour laws and labour codes, which are different than the rights and recourse options for those who are not employed (as staff or voluntarily) by an organization. GAC has narrowed the scope of work related to PSEA because the focus is on protecting the ultimate beneficiaries of international assistance. When it comes to international assistance, we have a particular responsibility to ensure that we do no harm to those who are supposed to benefit from our work. The FIAP specifically targets international assistance towards reaching the poorest and the most vulnerable, and they are who GAC is trying to protect through our PSEA efforts.


[1] United Nations Glossary on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Category: Sexual Harassment

GAC expects partners to have appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure that there is safeguarding for their staff and volunteers so that they are not mistreated. Any allegations regarding harassment need to be reported to GAC through your Project Officer if it is affecting program implementation. They should be dealt with according to labour laws, your own code of conduct and disciplinary mechanisms. This is out of the scope of the work related to PSEA in the delivery of international assistance.

Survivor-centered approach

A survivor-centered approach seeks to empower survivors by prioritizing their rights, safety, well-being, needs and wishes. Organizations must ensure that survivors have access to appropriate, accessible and good quality services. For that reason, it is important for organizations to have survivor-centered response and support mechanisms in place in case allegations arise. Following an incident (a traumatic experience, such as sexual assault), a survivor-centered approach will give the survivor control over the decision-making process. This serves to provide space and time for the survivor to express their needs and for the organization to arrange for the relevant support.

This approach also serves to recognize that the various coping-mechanisms and healing processes are unique to each individual. However, there may be limitations that would require different levels of action, for example, legal limitations, especially when minors are involved. The principle of “do no harm” is at the heart of the survivor-centered approach. Maximizing agency is therefore key to prevent survivors from having to endure any further unnecessary grief.

Funding for PSEA

Category: Funding for PSEA

PSEA policies, procedures and mechanisms should be part of the core of an organization’s work, and therefore should be accounted for in their overhead costs. For example, codes of conduct are meant to be organization-wide and not tied to specific projects, as they are out of the scope of an individual project. Organizations need to budget accordingly, and that could mean reviewing their finances and communicating this with donors.

Category: Funding for PSEA

These initiatives are funded as part of the overhead allocation, as they go beyond the scope of a specific project. Global Affairs Canada has provided capacity building funding through Digna to help increase GAC’s partners’ capacity for SEA prevention and response, especially among smaller organizations.

Canadian Staff and Volunteers – Incidents Abroad

For broader safeguarding or sexual harassment concerns, partner organizations should continue to follow current practice and inform their GAC project officer if the issue will affect project implementation.

Many Canadians travel abroad as staff and volunteers to improve the lives of people in developing countries and enrich their own lives. In most cases, all goes well.  Nonetheless, a few Canadians overseas have been subjected to sexual violence in the course of their assignments. GAC provides Travel Advice and Advisories to help you prepare to safely travel abroad, as well as specific guidelines related to sexual assault abroad. Prevention is an important topic covered throughout the collaborative relationship with GAC partnership leads prior to departure and risk management check-ins.

For organizations: If your staff or volunteer has experienced an incident while overseas, please contact your project partnership leads, who are key resources to connect you with the appropriate channel within GAC depending on the case.

For survivors:  For assistance while overseas, you can contact the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre Ottawa. Consular officials can provide you with a list of local lawyers, shelters, and social services, as well as provide you with information on how to apply for emergency financial assistance through the Department of Justice Victims Fund. 

See this page for more information.

Contacts

For any inquiries please email

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