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: 

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.

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


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.

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.

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

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

Reporting allegations to the PSEA unit

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.


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

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

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

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 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.


For any inquiries please email