General Article NGOs need to step up and keep children safe – here’s what they can do

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Rosa Freedman, University of Reading

The wave of reports about abuses perpetrated by aid sector workers in Haiti and elsewhere, including allegations of the abuse of children, should sadly come as little surprise. International actors frequently fall into the gaps between national, regional and international law, and therefore need internal measures to ensure that they adhere to international standards. And of all the players in international interventions, NGOs perhaps need them the most.

Unlike militaries, intergovernmental organisations or even private sector actors, NGOs frequently have weak or non-existent governance structures. This extends to every part of their organisation, from recruitment all the way up to accountability mechanisms. And when locally employed staff abuse or exploit children in countries where the rule of law is weak or non-existent, there is little the organisations can to do to bring them to justice.

The solution is not to strictly curtail the aid sector’...

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