Scotland’s role in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance
Scotland believes in playing a meaningful part in tackling global challenges including poverty, injustice and inequality. Scotland focuses its contribution to international development work on supporting projects that empower, engage, enhance and encourage partnership and collaboration between countries, organisations, and beneficiaries. Our international development work is founded on core values of fairness and equality and contributes to sustainable development within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Goals.
“Scotland is a country that can have a positive voice, offering ethical leadership on global issues, including human rights, tackling poverty and inequality, sustainable and inclusive development, fair trade, climate change and climate justice.
All of our international engagement is guided by our commitment to the universally-recognised values enshrined in international human rights treaties. We will act in that respect, protect and realise human rights and promote equality, fairness and social justice and respect for both human dignity and the rule of law. We recognise that our commitment to progressive values cannot stop at our national borders. Scotland not only accepts, but embraces, our responsibility to act as a good global citizen and to promote and support best practice internationally.” i (Scottish Government, 2018)
In 2016 the Scottish Government published the international development strategy entitledGlobal Citizenship: Scotland’s International Development Strategy. This strategy was developed in consultation with the international development sector in Scotland and sets out key visions for Scotland’s contribution to international development. A clear focus of the strategy is partnership and collaboration within the sector, and a commitment to implementing the SDGs, both nationally and internationally. A key component of this is the empowerment of partner countries:
"[t]hrough development work which will be needs led, respecting of human rights and guided by national priorities, capacities and levels of development".
Safeguarding promotes the safety and welfare of people involved in the delivery or receipt of humanitarian aid and development assistance, protecting them from harm, including all forms of exploitation, abuse and harassment.
International development and humanitarian assistance involves working with the most vulnerable and marginalised, and it is critical that the highest of standard of work is carried out and no harm is done. This includes harm, abuse or exploitation which is planned as well as harm which is more opportunistic and not necessarily intended. All are enabled through weak systems, a lack of clear safeguarding policy and procedures, unhealthy safeguarding organisational cultures and unequal power dynamics. This means that the most vulnerable, and those who we particularly seek to reach are more susceptible to abuse, harm or exploitation.
It is critical for the integrity of the international development sector and maintaining public faith in the benefits of aid and humanitarian assistance to have high standards of safeguarding practice and organisations which have a healthy safeguarding culture. Therefore, safeguarding must be prioritised by all international development actors, whether implementing organisations, governments, donors or communities and should be seen as the most important precondition in order for projects and programmes of development and humanitarian assistance to be effective.
The journey towards high safeguarding standards is one which is well underway, and which will require persistence and collaboration as well as technical support in safeguarding.
Safeguarding progress and actions in Scotland
The international development sector has been quick to act following the heightened media attention early in 2018 on abuses that had taken place in development and humanitarian work. This intense scrutiny has put pressure on governments and international development organisations to demonstrate that they have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place.
The Scottish Government has amended grant conditions to ensure that the requirement for organisations to have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place is clearly set out. With this requirement comes the need to ensure that there is a clear and shared understanding of, commitment to and capacity of organisations to be safe and healthy for beneficiaries, employees and all representatives. It was recognised that many organisations needed support in developing policies that would strive to go beyond compliance, and towards a gold standard of safeguarding.
Therefore, the Scottish Government, in collaboration with the Alliance, has set out to explore how organisations in Scotland could be supported in their development and implementation of safeguarding policies and procedures.
The approach has involved two main areas of work:
Firstly, a survey and series of interviews were conducted to establish both a baseline of current policies in place, and what support the sector felt it needed in the development and implementation of policies.
Secondly, the findings from this research helped to guide and inform the development of this “Safer for All” Safeguarding Support Package. This is a package of resources to support organisations to strengthen their safeguarding policies, procedures and practice.
“Safer for All” is designed to provide organisations with the information, tools, and resources and support needed to ensure that safeguarding practice meets the highest standards. Robust safeguarding policy and practice involves three key areas or dimensions:
Mitigation of the risk of safeguarding incidents – through clear, owned and understood safeguarding and connected policies, rigorous vetting and recruitment procedures, detailed risk assessments and ongoing training and orientations for all representatives of an organisation.
Clear and robust reporting procedures, which are fully understood by all representatives of an organisation.
Investigation processes which are clear, fair, thorough and clearly laid out.
This will support the development of a culture where safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do, and where all of those with whom we work, as well as those working in international development, are empowered to speak up and raise concerns challenge unhealthy safeguarding attitudes and practice. To develop a healthy safeguarding will take time and involve changing social attitudes, and mind sets across all contexts as well as each one of us taking responsibility and committing to nurturing healthy safeguarding practice across all of our actions.
This report provides the analysis of a small research project conducted by the Scottish Government and Scotland’s International Development Alliance with stakeholders in the international development sector.