The Membership and Accountability Committee of the DEC’s Board of Trustees met in June and reviewed the report of the Charity Commission’s statutory inquiry into DEC member Oxfam GB, as well as Oxfam’s public response to the inquiry’s report and commitments to put right past failings.
The committee members expressed concern over the findings of past mismanagement and stressed that Oxfam’s focus must continue to be on putting its commitments into practice which the DEC will monitor closely. Acknowledging that Oxfam has made significant improvements since 2017 as also reported by the Charity Commission, the committee confirmed that Oxfam will continue to be eligible to take part in DEC appeals as long as the DEC is provided with the appropriate assurance that Oxfam remains on track in delivering the commitments it has made to the Charity Commission and the DEC as well as to its beneficiaries and supporters.
The DEC and our members are steadfastly committed to our common mission of helping those most in need of humanitarian assistance in the highest quality manner. We are appalled by any misconduct, exploitation and abuse that occurs within our sector and we are committed to learning as much as we can from past and future incidents to better protect the vulnerable people we serve.
The DEC will continue to promote amongst our members and the wider humanitarian sector the importance of transparency, accountability and effective management of serious incidents of misconduct, and spearhead the changes that are needed to achieve the highest standards.
DEC members are required to put safeguards in place to protect all those who come into contact with their work, including but not limited to: ensuring that staff, volunteers and contractors are aware of what abuse is and how to identify it; having a clear system of reporting concerns as soon as abuse is identified or suspected; responding immediately to abuse or allegations of abuse and carrying out confidential investigations; preventing harm and abuse through a rigorous recruitment process; and undertaking due diligence when they operate through partners.
The DEC therefore welcomes both the report of the Charity Commission’s statutory inquiry into Oxfam’s handling of sexual misconduct by staff during the Haiti earthquake response in 2011 and Oxfam GB’s safeguarding policies and practice from 2011-2018 and the report by Oxfam’s Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change. The DEC’s Board of Trustees will thoroughly review the findings and recommendations of both reports, and carefully consider the implications for the DEC and for Oxfam, a long-standing DEC member with a strong track record of delivering humanitarian aid in challenging settings such as conflict zones and the aftermath of natural disasters.
We are deeply grateful to the UK public for their continued generous support of DEC appeals which has meant that our member charities have been able to provide food, water, shelter and medical care to millions of people facing some of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. Our members do excellent work in difficult conditions, helping many of the most vulnerable people on the planet, most recently those affected by Cyclone Idai which swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March this year. We remain proud of the UK’s leadership in delivering high-quality aid to the men, women and children facing devastating crises brought on by conflict or natural disaster, but we know that we can and must do better.