Focus on IFRC’s event – Preventing corruption in humanitarian operations

Last week, I attended the Conference "Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations" hosted by #IFRC 's Investigation Team, an interesting hybrid event held over 3 afternoons, each with its own theme.

#1 “Sextorsion”


3 takeaways (among many) from the afternoon are:

  • Sexual abuse shares many common features with fraud and corruption, as an abuse of a position of power for private gratification;
  • Yet, it has many specificities as its victims are vulnerable populations (women and children) and not organizations;
  • Response and investigations should be really “victim centric” to avoid creating further damage.

#2 “Investigative interviews in Humanitarian operations”


The panelists highlighted many challenges, amongst which:

  • making sure survivors are not harmed by the investigation process, by giving them agency and overcommunicating;
  • creating trust with whistleblowers and witnesses when you work for the same agency as the alleged offender;
  • overcoming the unavoidable secondary trauma that comes with investigating horrific abuses.

#3 “Integrity and Accountability”

The speaker’s discussed the three pillars of an integrity program (prevention, detection and remediation). Among the numerous insights from the discussions, I noted the following:

  • organizations should consider integrating integrity in their incentive schemes for partners and staff;
  • reporting/whistleblowing schemes do not work without trust in the system, which is itself fostered by the effective conduct of investigations
  • organizations should not be over confident about their control system, but rather take a hard look at their culture, which is shaped by power dynamics.

IFRC’s Investigation team did a great job once again bringing leading practitioners together to cover these fascinating topics. I look forward to the 2023 edition of the event!