Deputy Administrator Glick’s Remarks at the Employment Accountability Community of Practice Launch

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

[As Prepared]

Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to speak with you today on this important topic.

I am heartened to see so many colleagues and partners from across the development community here to address some of the most difficult challenges in preventing sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment.

I’d like to extend a special thank you to our co-hosts, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and specifically Birgitta Tazelaar, the Deputy Director General for International Cooperation and Chair of their Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Task Force. They have been incredible champions and leaders of this cause.

Sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment undermine the goals of international development and humanitarian assistance. These actions cause intolerable harm to victims, threaten our mission, and undermine the credibility of the entire development community.

We’ve seen huge failures when it comes to addressing egregious exploitation and abuse. Right now, we are beginning to come to terms with the recent allegations of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse from a number of international organizations and relief agencies. USAID, along with the international community, has expressed strong concern regarding these allegations. We urge the organizations and agencies involved to treat the allegations seriously and take the necessary and appropriate steps to address the situation in a survivor-centered manner. We also recognize that sexual exploitation and abuse often goes unreported, complicating response efforts further. As a community, we must do better. These crimes cannot continue within our ranks.

This is exactly why we are launching this virtual community of practice today. A strong community with the involvement of stakeholders at every stage of our work will ensure accountability, knowledge sharing, and honesty.

We know we have a long way to go. But, I’d like to share some of the ways that USAID has made some operational changes recently. We encourage you and your organizations to take similar actions and to share the steps you have taken so far.

In March, USAID released its first-ever Policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. We did not formulate this policy in a vacuum—it was the result of an intensive consultation process with USAID staff, implementing partners, and other international donors.

This policy represents our commitment to institutionalize these efforts throughout our work—every single day—from the moment we hire an employee, to the implementation and execution of our programs in the countries we work with.

During our Agency hiring process, we implemented reference check questions, self-certification, and questions throughout the security clearance process to address this issue. And, we created a mandatory module on preventing sexual misconduct during onboarding.

We are also taking a look at our functional structures to identify and eradicate any systemic barriers to reporting.

And on the ground, USAID prioritizes a survivor-centered approach in our programming. We do this by taking timely and effective action in response to allegations. This ensures due process while holding perpetrators accountable, shielding survivors from reprisal, and clearly communicating with all involved throughout the process.

As you can see, USAID takes this issue very seriously. Human dignity and self reliance are top priorities of the Agency. Preventative measures and effective, survivor-centered systems are essential to uphold these values.

But, USAID is only one organization in the international development community. We know that preventing and addressing sexual misconduct on a broader scale requires coordination, commitment, and determination by all stakeholders -- and we know that all of you here today are equally committed to this cause.

The complexities of varying social norms and expectations, institutional cultures, and legal regimes require all actors within the international development space to take action.

And together, we’ve begun this partnership. I know that many of you here today have endorsed a number of groundbreaking international political commitments on PSEA. But this community of practice takes these commitments a step further.

We hope that you will join us in this commitment to fundamentally change our organizational cultures and business models to protect human dignity and promote respectful, inclusive, and safe environments for our staff, our partners, and our beneficiaries.

And now I will hand it over to Director-General Tazelaar and our co-hosts at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thank you.