Consultancy on PSEA Partnership Relations

Closing date


Case study of how partnership relations influence responses to SEA 2000-2020

November 2020

Project Background

The project has arisen from discussions among various agencies on how partnership relations influence responses to cases of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) perpetrated by aid workers. When such cases occur, the aid actor whose staff is the alleged perpetrator might be the first one to receive the allegation and would need to react. Law enforcement agencies might also have a clear mandate to intervene based on national legislation. Other actors however also play an important role such as the community, media, and other partners, including donors. UN Agencies might also be involved in different ways; either as an aid agency whose staff is alleged to have perpetrated such abuse, as a partner providing funds to an NGO whose staff has been alleged to have perpetrated such abuse, or by virtue of the fact that the agency is working in the area and more indirectly impacted by the case.

In addressing SEA, all agencies involved act based on a number of obligations derived from international and national law, ethical principles, internal regulations and code of conducts, voluntary commitments or specific instruments like the UN Protocol on SEA Allegations involving Implementing Partners, the Secretary General Bulletin of 2003, etc. These instruments outline binding obligations on UN entities, which—in turn—create certain downstream obligations for the UN’s implementing partners.[1] Moreover, these instruments outline a framework of shared responsibility between the UN and its implementing partners.[2] Whilst the UN Protocol is designed to facilitate the identification and resolution of any potential gaps in partner capacity, it also establishes that there are certain situations where the termination of a partnership agreement is required.[3] These UN instruments are further complemented by the work of the IASC to reinforce minimum standards, such as the Six Core Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.**

These sets of regulations and commitments, the culture of the organisation(s), the external reaction to the case and the interaction between all the various actors involved are all very important for a successful management of the case, in a way that respect the rights and dignity of the victim and serves justice.


Against this broader background, this study will focus on the situation when an allegation of SEA is made against personnel of an NGO, and the relationship of that NGO with other NGOs, UN partners, and donor governments. The goal is to better understand the partnership between NGOs and UN partners, as well as between NGOs and donor governments, and the way in which it is managed in a specific SEA allegation case, impacts on the results of the case but also beyond that, looking at:

a) Survivors, b) communities, c) program continuity.

Different possible courses of action and related risks will be examined including:

· Risks to survivors and other members of the affected population associated with suspension/termination of partnership agreement, including disruption of critical services,

· Risks associated with not undertaking suspension/termination of partnership agreement, including sustained loss of trust of communities, and further potential harm.

· Risks and benefits associated with conditionally continuing partnerships subject to specific conditions being met.

The various factors determining the course of action will be studied based on the discussions with the agencies involved, looking also at how they are communicated and perceived by other partners in the relationship.

Consideration will be given to the legal and doctrinal framework that creates requirements for the UN and its partners, including: those arising from UN instruments and IASC minimum standards, from donor government requirements on UN entities, and from the language in standard partnership agreements between UN entities and implementing partners.

Attention will be given to media coverage of the case and its impact on the partnership response, linked also to the above-mentioned risks.

Instead of trying to assess all cases to date, the consultant will choose/select cases where there have been allegations of SEA against NGO personnel to profile and integrate into the document. The consultant will do this by examining the range of reported cases and responses to date.

Based on the analysis done, the consultant is expected to conclude with a number of key takeaways and recommendations which will be discussed by all the actors involved, including donor agencies.

Desired outcome

The project report and its follow up aims to identify good practices in partnership response to SEA cases. The aim is to promote consistency and improve the way partners work together, based on lessons learned and documented good practices to ensure better prevention of and response to SEA and accountability to affected people, with respect for the principles of a victim-centred approach and do no harm.

Consultancy outputs

A report, with key recommendations, up to maximum 20 pages/7000 words in length including an executive summary – shorter is generally better, appendices to be used as appropriate.

A Meeting to Present key findings, pitched to groups such as the IASC Technical Experts Group (TEG) on PSEAH, to include a PowerPoint Slide deck that can be reused.

Implementation Methodology to be applied

The methodology is expected to be through desk research, remote evidence review and (particularly) key informant interviews. This latter is particularly important given the limited documentary evidence of decision-making processes in such cases. Despite the trust/openness advantages that could be gained from in-person interviews, this is unlikely to be possible given COVID-19, but this can be mitigated to some extent by using Zoom and similar software.

Qualifications required:

We seek an external, independent consultant for the following work, with the goal of ensuring some anonymity for organisations to be able to speak freely of impact and donor relationships/requirements.

The consultant will have a substantial understanding of donor, UN and NGO power dynamics, as well as a good understanding of past and developing trends in the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers.

Strong understanding of management of SEA within the humanitarian/development sector – this will include understanding of the processes involved in reporting and investigating SEA by aid workers, the realities of field work in conflict and disaster environments, and the practicalities of managing aid programs.

Solid understanding of Accountability to the Affected Population (AAP), experience in intersectionality between age, gender and disability and do no harm principles and frameworks.

Some level of Independence from case-study organisations selected – noting that other requirements above will require strong understanding of power dynamics internally within organisations managing SEA, and between them and their donors.

Support to be provided to the consultant

The consultant will be supported by a three-person committee, including a representative of ICVA, SCHR and UNHCR.

Management of consultancy

The consultancy will be commissioned by ICVA and managed by with the three-person committee outline above.

Timeframe: December 2020 - February 2021

Resources required (estimated and open to negotiation as the study design is finalised):

Estimated days: around 20 days

· Reviewing and finalizing case study design: 10 hours

· Identifying and connecting with Key informants: 5 hours

· 20x Key informant Interviews: 20 x 1 hour

· Desk review: 20 hours

· Analysis/writing: 30 hours

Estimated budget CHF 10,000-12,000 – assuming a daily rate of 500-600 CHF

Schedule for payment of fees

The consultant is to be paid on completion of the assignment and delivery of the invoice.

[1] For instance, whilst “the UN is required to report allegations of SEA to the Secretary-General”, it is also “the responsibility of implementing partners to promptly report allegations of SEA to the UN partner entity, as part of this reporting obligation”.[1]

[2] For its part, the UN is required to inform its implementing partners of the standards of conduct listed in section 3 of the Secretary General’s 2003 Bulletin (which prohibits all forms of SEA) whilst, for their part, partners must provide a written undertaking that they accept and adhere to these standards. See Articles 6.1, 6.2, Secretary General’s Bulletin: Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13).

[3] Article 3 of the Protocol establishes that “The UN does not partner with entities that fail to address sexual exploitation and abuse through appropriate preventive measures, investigation and corrective action. Such failures shall constitute grounds for the termination of any cooperative arrangement with the UN”.

How to apply

If you are interested for the advertised position, please send your application consisting of your CV and a letter of motivation to: