A statement from CECI : Cases of Sexual Misconduct in the Field of International Aid

Montreal, February 15, 2018 – It is with great dismay that CECI has been hearing reports of sexual scandals and abuse of power touching Oxfam Great Britain over the past few days.

Such reprehensible acts can only be severely condemned.

As an international cooperation and development organization working for the past 60 years in dozens of countries across the world, sending Canadian volunteers on assignments abroad, CECI is deeply concerned with the situation and feels the urge to stand up. Combating poverty and inequalities is the very core of our mission, and fundamental to this is the issue of gender equality.

CECI was always a pioneer when it comes to gender equality, not only by weaving it through our projects, but also by mainstreaming the concept in our own organization. It was in 1992 that CECI developed its first Policy on equality between women and men. This policy was reviewed and updated a few times since. Coinciding with our 60th anniversary in 2018, we are now starting work on the latest revision of the policy.

CECI also implemented a Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, binding all employees in Canada and abroad, as well as all members of the Board of Directors. Furthermore, CECI has a specific Code of Ethics in the Context of Humanitarian Aid targeted at all those assigned to CECI’s projects and activities during humanitarian crises, as well as a Code of Conduct for Volunteers.

We must remember that the role and duty of the women and men working as professionals or volunteers in the field of international aid is to protect the local population, especially in times of crisis. Abuse of power of any kind goes directly against this core duty. It is also the responsibility of any individual witnessing or suspecting reprehensible acts to report them immediately to their organization. CECI encourages and opens the door for all of our collaborators to communicate such information.

For nearly a year today, we have been hard at work on improving further our reporting mechanisms.

CECI’s team is currently comprised of 300 employees, based in 10 countries and working across 20 different countries. Their work is possible thanks to the critical contribution of hundreds of volunteers, fuelled by genuine feelings of solidarity and altruism. As true as this is for CECI, so it is for our Canadian partners in the field of international aid and cooperation.

Still, risks always exist, and that is why CECI and our partners strive to implement as many measures as possible to prevent instances of abuse of power, violence or sexual misconduct, actual or suspected.

We developed a rigorous system for the selection, training and mentoring of all volunteers representing our organization, as well as for the verification of their references and criminal record.

As soon as a problematic situation is reported, we take action.

In 2017, CECI launched a revision process of all of our policies and processes regarding security, ethics and conduct. Following the #MeToo movement and the recent sexual scandals affecting Oxfam Great Britain, our resolve to act fast to improve our rules and guidelines is stronger than ever.

The Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI) is an international cooperation and development NGO founded in Quebec in 1958 with a mission to combat poverty and exclusion among the most disadvantaged communities of Africa, Asia and the Americas. CECI assists local communities in the implementation of different projects relating to humanitarian assistance, sustainable development and volunteer cooperation in over 20 countries across the world.

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