Our Commitment to Integrity
Integrity and justice are central to all War Child activities - including our duty to uphold the safety and dignity of our staff and the children who take part in our programmes.
In 2020 we welcomed the launch of our new Integrity Framework - a set of four robust policies designed to uphold the safety and fundamental rights of everyone who takes part in War Child activities around the world.
Within this framework, the year saw us appoint a number of in-country integrity and child safeguarding focal points - trusted individuals across the organisation who have the delegated responsibility of coordinating and filing incidents of malpractice. These individuals receive regular training to ensure the confidentiality of all parties is protected and all concerns - big and small - are handled with utmost sensitivity.
Additionally, we have developed a mandatory series of integrity e-learning modules for staff, available in four languages, as well as 25 training sessions and open talks.
An important element of our new Integrity Framework is the SpeakUp! Procedure which serves to ensure that anyone who witnesses, hears of or suspects misconduct can file a report in confidence and safety.
Over the course of the year, a total of 54 complaints were received. Most were filed through the focal points. An external website and hotline were also utilised strengthening anonymity.
While the majority concerned potential violations of the Code of Conduct - including reports of bullying, sexual abuse and exploitation, discriminatory behaviour and nepotism during recruitment procedures - there were also complaints related to virtual engagement with children, the forgery of documents and other serious topics. Almost half were classified as cases of medium severity. Two were identified as critical.
We take every complaint extremely seriously - and are committed to being as transparent as possible while protecting the identity of all parties.
Several trends were identified in 2020 including the increased reporting of racism and discriminatory complaints with the rise of the global Black Lives Matter movement. Reports of sexual abuse often concerned the misuse of power.
As a chunk of our programming moved online, we developed a wealth of guidance materials and training for staff with an explicit focus on protecting children in the digital environment. This ensured that concerns related to how we engage with children via social media or other virtual channels were quickly investigated and followed up. These efforts, alongside an overall decrease in activities due to COVID-19, saw the number of child safeguarding complaints drop significantly over the course of 2020 - with 12 cases reported in total.
Building a Culture of Integrity
As the role of humanitarian organisations evolves, the ways in which we remain accountable have taken on fresh importance. To this end we ensure that every integrity case is carefully documented and used to better our policies. Key takeaways from 2020 included the importance of integrity clauses in partnership agreements as well as closer collaboration with Human Resources with regard to child safeguarding.
The value of continuous learning, awareness-raising and an open dialogue - all captured in a standard operating procedure - will shape our efforts in the months ahead.