Prevention and elimination of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Guidance Note provides practical information and guidance on the prevention and elimination of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. The Code of Conduct outlines key terminology and principles, Finland's international commitments, Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ expectations for partners, risk factors for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH), and notifying suspicions.
The Ministry has a zero tolerance policy on SEAH. This means that the Ministry does not accept any form of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from its employees or partners, nor tolerate ignoring, covering up or mishandling cases by anyone receiving funding from the Ministry or acting on its behalf. Zero tolerance is not the same as zero incidents. Other key principles that the Ministry adheres to include a victim/survivor-centered approach and the recognition of power imbalances.
Preventing SEAH is everyone's responsibility. Risks related to sexual abuse and violence and sexual harassment are recognised in the overall framework and operating model for risk management for preventive actions, monitoring and reporting, among others, in accordance with the Norm for Misuse of Funds (Norm 5/2023, VN/8285/2023). Any allegation of SEAH must be notified immediately to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland through the website for reporting suspicions of misuse of development cooperation funds(Link to another website.). All notifications received will be handled confidentially.
A clause on the prevention of and response to SEAH is included in the Ministry’s financing agreements as well as in the discretionary government grants awarded by the Ministry and the conditions for their use. All relevant agreements and decisions must include provisions on the prevention of and response to SEAH and on the associated reporting requirements. Partners are expected to provide information on their actions to prevent and to respond to SEAH when applying for funding. This is considered a key criterion in assessing any funding application.
SEAH risks should be identified and assessed at the planning stage of any development cooperation or humanitarian intervention, including measures to prevent SEAH. Any significant residual SEAH risks should be highlighted and mitigation measures developed. The diversity of local contexts must be taken into account when developing solutions to prevent, respond to and eliminate SEAH in order to ensure their effectiveness while keeping in mind that SEAH is not acceptable in any form in any context.
The Ministry’s Guidance Note and Policy are based on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance.(Link to another website.) Monitoring of the implementation of the Recommendation is carried out through peer reviews of the DAC members.