USAID Strengthens Protections from Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in its Partnerships with International Organizations

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) took action this month to address sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment in the international aid system by instituting a new set of standards and procedures when working with the United Nations (UN) and other public international organizations. These enhanced accountability measures reflect a harmonized approach by donors to set similar standards across the aid sector. They establish clear expectations between USAID and its multilateral partners to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse in USAID-funded programs, and sexual harassment in their workplaces in a survivor-centered manner.

These measures build upon the commitments made in USAID’s Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policy to ensure a world in which all individuals are able to live and work free from sexual exploitation and abuse. The standards underscore USAID’s zero tolerance approach and establish a common understanding of what it means to adequately prevent and address incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector. They also create stronger lines of communication between USAID and its partners when investigations are ongoing.

Collective action is vital to ensuring the world is doing everything possible to prevent these incidents from occurring and to ensuring accountability across the aid sector. USAID expects staff and partners to take seriously the commitment to do no harm and to advance human dignity in the work. USAID consistently works for system-wide change and has engaged with other governments to present a united position and to ensure consistency in addressing issues of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment.

USAID is also developing similar enhanced accountability measures across all award mechanisms to ensure consistent standards for all partners. Additional information and resources are available at the Action Alliance for Preventing Sexual Misconduct (AAPSM) and a safeguarding toolkit for partners is available at the AAPSM for partners page.