Terms of Reference for in-country Focal Points on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by un/ngo/igo personnel Role Description

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Terms of Reference for in-country Focal Points

on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN/NGO/IGO Personnel
Role Description

Under the auspices of his/her Head of Office, Head of Mission, Resident Representative or Country Director, the in-country Focal Point for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) will coordinate the implementation of the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13). S/he will undertake this both within his/her agency, organisation, department or mission (hereinafter “entity”) and as a member of the in-country Network on PSEA.

The Focal Point designation is a role or “hat” and not necessarily a position. It can either be assigned to existing personnel or new personnel can be hired to carry it out. Whether the role is a full-time or part-time undertaking should depend on country-specific need.
Each entity should ideally designate two Focal Points to carry out the PSEA responsibilities of the entity: wherever possible consideration should be given to the selection of both human resource and operational staff. Each entity should have at least one Focal Point and an Alternate.
Major Tasks
Internal duties and responsibilities

Within his/her entity, the Focal Point shall actively promote protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). In this regard, the Focal Point shall, where not already in place:

Engagement with and support of local populations

  • Facilitate, in coordination with the in-country PSEA Network, awareness-raising in local communities on their rights, the fact that assistance to them is never to be conditioned on sexual favours and options for reporting incidents of SEA.


  • Ensure that the identity of the focal point is known throughout the entity and that contacts are made widely available.

  • Where applicable, support staff to sign the Entity’s Code of Conduct clearly prohibiting acts of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and obligating them to report such acts. (For the UN, the Secretary-General’s Bulletin (SGB) serves the purpose of a code of conduct, though additional ones may be adopted to reinforce the SGB’s standards).

  • Provide awareness-raising sessions on sexual exploitation and abuse for all staff and other personnel in the Entity on a regular basis, including for newcomers.

  • Make appropriate recommendations to management on enhancing prevention strategies. This could include collecting and analyzing information on actual/potential risk factors for vulnerability to sexual exploitation and abuse and elaborating measures to address them.

  • Ensure that procedures to guard against hiring of persons who have a record of SEA offences are put in place and applied.

  • Work with human resources personnel to include PSEA content in staff inductions, including all contractors, consultants, temporary staff and casual labour.

Response systems

  • Ensure the development of internal procedures for staff and other personnel to report incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse, consistent with applicable UN/Entity rules and approved by the Entity’s headquarters Focal Point. The procedures shall cover the reporting of incidents implicating personnel of the Focal Point’s Entity, another entity, multiple entities or where the entity of the alleged perpetrator is uncertain or unknown.

  • Receive complaints, reports and questions about alleged acts of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by all categories of the Entity’s personnel as well as the personnel of other entities wherever approached, including when the institutional affiliation of the alleged perpetrator(s) is unknown or uncertain.

  • Take appropriate measures to ensure safety and confidentiality for all visitors to the Focal Point.

  • Once a complaint is received:

    • Ensure that all materials pertaining to complaints are handled strictly in line with applicable grievance procedures. Refer complaints/reports to the appropriate unit within her/his entity for investigation;

    • Immediately refer complainants to the victim assistance mechanism, where established, so that they may receive the medical, psychosocial, legal and material support they need or directly assist complainants to access immediate medical assistance and safety measures where needed. If a victim assistance mechanism is not yet in place, the Focal Point should seek to facilitate access to such support, as identified in UN General Assembly Resolution 62/214.

Management and Coordination

  • Assist the Head of Office/Resident Representative to fulfil his/her responsibilities in accordance with the SGB, the Actions to be Taken by UN Senior Management at Country Level to Implement the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13): Heads of Office and Resident Representatives, the Statement of Commitment on Eliminating Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN and Non-UN Personnel and the Entity’s own code of conduct, where applicable.

  • Support the inclusion of SGB standards in contractual arrangements with non-UN entities and individuals, per ST/SGB/2003/13 Sec. 6.1.

  • Ensure that focal points at all the Entity’s field/sub-offices, where there is significant staff presence, are designated and trained.

  • Coordinate the Entity’s adherence to relevant monitoring/compliance mechanisms, including contribution to the annual report of the Secretary-General on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.

  • Ensure that the job descriptions, terms of reference and/or performance appraisal plans of staff who are also Focal Points include their PSEA responsibilities.

  • Track all PSEA-related activities for the Entity and ensure that all information on PSEA-related activities is shared with relevant persons in the Entity.

  • Keep data on reported incidents for general reporting and further development of efforts to address SEA.

  • Keep management up to date on PSEA measures taken and plans for future action.

In-Country Network duties and responsibilities

In the development of the mechanisms and procedures noted above, the Focal Point collaborates with the In-Country Network so as to promote consistency among entities and benefit from lessons learned.

As a participant in the in-country Network on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, the Focal Point works with other focal points in the Network to achieve the fulfillment of the Network’s Terms of Reference. The Focal Point’s contribution shall be in accordance with his/her expertise and position. (For example, a Focal Point who works with local populations in his/her daily activities might lead the Task Force’s development of community-based complaints mechanisms.)
In addition to the above tasks, the Focal Point shall carry out any additional activities needed to address sexual exploitation and abuse.
Competencies and Experience

The in-country Focal Point for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) shall be a staff member. The Focal Point needs easy access to senior management so as to be able to effect change and therefore should normally be appointed at a sufficiently senior level (P4 and above). Ideally both a woman and a man staff member would serve as the Focal Point and the Alternate.

The Focal Point shall have the following competencies and experience: Proven integrity, objectivity and professional competence; demonstrated sensitivity to cultural diversity and gender issues; fluent in relevant languages; demonstrated experience of working directly with local communities; proven communication skills. Upon appointment, the Focal Point shall undergo specific training on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, as soon as is feasible.
Support and Resources for the Focal Point

Many of the mechanisms and procedures that the Focal Point is responsible for developing have already been developed by others, whether in country or elsewhere. As such, the Focal Point shall seek to benefit from preexisting tools and guidance so as to avoid duplication and “reinventing the wheel.” (See tools repository at www.un.org/psea/taskforce.)

As permitted by the Entity, the Focal Point shall likewise share with the In-Country Network the tools s/he develops and submit them for inclusion in the global PSEA tools repository at www.un.org/psea/taskforce (email them to seatf@un.org).
The Focal Point can seek further support as needed from the ECHA/ECPS Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (email: seatf@un.org).


Produced by the ECHA/ECPS UN and NGO Task Force on Protection From Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

November 2008

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