The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 24 February 2018

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ period ending 24 Feb 2018

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research
:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals

Security Council Demands 30-day Cessation of Hostilities in Syria to Enable Humanitarian Aid Delivery


Security Council Demands 30-day Cessation of Hostilities in Syria to Enable Humanitarian Aid Delivery, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2401 (2018)
24 February 2018 SC/13221
The Security Council, acting unanimously today, adopted a resolution demanding parties to Syria’s seven-year-long conflict to cease hostilities without delay for at least 30 consecutive days, ensuring a “durable humanitarian pause” to enable weekly humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded.

By the terms of resolution 2401 (2018), the 15-member Council demanded that, immediately after the start of the cessation of hostilities, all parties would allow safe, unimpeded and sustained access each week for the humanitarian convoys of the United Nations and their implementing partners to all requested areas and populations — particularly the 5.6 million people in 1,244 communities in acute need and the 2.9 million in hard-to-reach and besieged locations, subject to standard United Nations security assessments. It also demanded that the United Nations and its partners be allowed to carry out safe, unconditional medical evacuations, based on medical need and urgency.

The Council further called upon all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas — including in eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya — and cease depriving civilians of essential food and medicine, which when used as a method of combat was an act prohibited by international humanitarian law. It demanded that the parties enable the rapid, safe and unhindered evacuation of all civilians who wished to leave — underscoring the need for them to agree on humanitarian pauses, days of tranquillity, localized ceasefires and truces — and called for the urgent acceleration of humanitarian mine action throughout Syria.

Affirming that the cessation of hostilities would not apply to military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with terrorist groups, as designated by the Council, the organ further called on relevant Member States to coordinate efforts to monitor the cessation of hostilities, building on existing arrangements. It called on all Member States to use their influence with the parties to ensure its implementation and create conditions for a durable and lasting ceasefire.

By other terms of the text, the Council reiterated its demand — reminding the Syrian authorities in particular — that all parties immediately comply with their obligations under international law concerning protecting civilians and medical and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties along with their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities. It also reiterated its demand that they demilitarize medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities; avoid establishing military positions in populated areas; and desist from attacks directed at civilian objects…

Sahel Alliance Announces Over 500 Projects [EUR 6bn] Between 2018 and 2022


The Sahel Alliance Officially Announces the Implementation of Over 500 Projects for a Total Amount of EUR 6bn to be Disbursed Between 2018 and 2022
BRUSSELS, 23 February 2018 – During the International High-Level Conference on the Sahel, the founding members of the Sahel Alliance – France, Germany, the EU, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and UNDP –, joined by Italy, Spain and the UK, officially launched the Sahel Alliance, by announcing the implementation of over 500 projects between 2018 and 2022.

EUR 6bn of investments for the Sahel region: this is the total amount disbursed by the members of the Sahel Alliance and being made available to member countries of the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) for the implementation of over 500 projects with a capacity to transform the region by 2022.

All these projects, 12 of which were highlighted to illustrate the principles of the Alliance, were presented to Sahelian Heads of State during the G5 Sahel Summit in Niamey on 6 February 2018. They will be implemented rapidly, particularly in the most vulnerable areas, as the objective of the Sahel Alliance is to have an immediate impact on populations, in line with the priorities established by the G5 Sahel countries. To achieve this, the Sahel Alliance will take action in six priority sectors: youth employment, rural development and food security, energy and climate, governance, decentralization and access to basic services, and security.

The membership of three new countries – Italy, Spain and the UK – in this unique initiative is a sign that development actors are mobilizing for the Sahel region…

Heritage Stewardship – Trafficked Artifacts :: FAO – Svalbard seed vault :: Yemen – Zabid

Heritage Stewardship

Over 41,000 artefacts seized in global operation targeting trafficking of cultural goods
21 February 2018
More than 41,000 objects including coins, furniture, paintings, musical instruments, archaeological pieces and sculptures have been seized in a global operation targeting the trafficking of cultural artefacts.

The seizures were made during the first joint customs and police operation codenamed Athena organized by the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL, and the Europe-focused Operation Pandora II coordinated by the Spanish Guardia Civil and Europol.

Tens of thousands of checks were carried out at airports and border crossing points across 81 countries during the operations which ran from October to December 2017. Auction houses, museums and private houses were also searched, resulting in more than 300 investigations being opened and 101 people arrested.

Online illicit markets
With the Internet becoming an important part of the chain in the illicit trade of cultural goods, law enforcement officers also monitored online market places and sales sites.

This resulted in the seizure more than 7,000 objects, nearly 20 per cent of the total number of artefacts recovered during the operations. In just one investigation in Spain, the Guardia Civil seized more than 2,000 cultural objects, the majority of which were coins from the Roman and other Empires. Officials also seized 88 pieces of ivory as well as weapons including swords, a crossbow and 39 historical firearms ranging from rifles to pistols…

Peace and security threat
“The results of the Operations Athena and Pandora II speak for themselves: cooperation between Customs and Police can yield excellent results and should be promoted and sustained at all levels. The fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects has been long neglected by law enforcement agencies, however, we cannot turn a blind eye to it. While we lose our common history and identity, the proceeds of trafficking fuel terrorism, conflicts and other criminal activities,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya. “We will keep working in this area of enforcement and will soon deploy the first specialized global training curriculum for Customs administrations – a very concrete and hands-on outcome of our common work,” he added…


Save the seeds – and the living plants we eat and use
FAO’s new Voluntary Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Crop Wild Relatives and Wild Food Plants outline how to craft technical rules and shepherd them into implementation and will help governments meet their international commitments.
Svalbard seed vault is the apex of a global network to protecting plant genetic resources for food and agriculture

23 February 2018, Rome – The ‘Doomsday Vault’, storing the seeds of vital crops in an underground vault near Svalbard, Norway, will celebrate its 10th anniversary soon, drawing deserved attention to the importance of conserving seeds that are vital for food and agriculture.

It was the adoption of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2001 that gave the impetus to the Norwegian government to proceed with the establishment of the Seed Vault; the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture welcomed and supported the initiative in 2004.

The resources and attention given to Svalbard, now the iconic home to seeds of around one million unique plants, is welcome. While farmers have bred crops for millennia, the emphasis on conservation of crop diversity ex situ is historically linked to Nikolai Vavilov, who set up one of the first genebanks in Russia in 1921. In a quest to end all famines, the botanist travelled to more than 60 countries, listening to farmers and collecting seeds with an eye to their potential to contribute to hardier crops in a changing world…

Many locally important food crops grow in parts of the world facing rapid change and high levels of food insecurity. To help countries in the daunting task of protecting the species relevant to their food supply in their natural habitats where they would continue to evolve important traits for adaptation to changes, FAO recently published Voluntary Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Crop Wild Relatives and Wild Food Plants.


Yemen: City’s architectural connection to Islam at risk as fighting nears
Sana’a/Geneva (ICRC) – As fighting along Yemen’s Red Sea coast continues, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is urging all parties to the conflict to protect and respect the city of Zabid, a World Heritage Site that has the highest concentration of mosques in Yemen.
Fighting would endanger civilians, Zabid’s unique architecture and the city’s cultural connection to one of the world’s major religions. Cultural property like Zabid’s is protected by international humanitarian law.

“The fighting in Hodeida governorate is at the gates of the historic city of Zabid, fanning fears for the fate of its cultural heritage,” said Alexandre Faite, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Yemen…

“International humanitarian law makes it clear that special care must be taken in military operations to avoid damaging this outstanding archeological and historical site,” Mr Faite added.

Zabid served as the capital of Yemen from the 13th century to the 15th century and played an important role in the Arab and Muslim world as a centre of Islamic knowledge. With its narrow streets and the many minarets rising from its 86 mosques, Zabid is considered an architectural jewel of the early years of Islam. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 shows high corruption burden in more than two-thirds of countries – Transparency International


Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 shows high corruption burden in more than two-thirds of countries
Analysis of results from Transparency International finds crackdowns on NGOs and media are associated with higher levels of corruption.
21 Feb 2018
An index released today by Transparency International, which marks its 25th anniversary this year, reveals some disturbing information – despite attempts to combat corruption around the world, the majority of countries are moving too slowly in their efforts. While stemming the tide against corruption takes time, in the last six years many countries have still made little to no progress. Even more alarming, further analysis of the index results indicates that countries with the lowest protections for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43.

Over the last six years, several countries significantly improved their CPI score, including Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the United Kingdom, while several countries declined, including Syria, Yemen and Australia.

This year, New Zealand and Denmark rank highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively. The best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66. The worst performing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34).

To view the results, visit:

Oxfam releases report into allegations of sexual misconduct in Haiti; Haiti Suspends Oxfam Great Britain After Sex Scandal

Governance-Ethics-Accountability: OXFAM et al

Oxfam releases report into allegations of sexual misconduct in Haiti
19 February 2018
A full copy of Oxfam’s final internal report into allegations of sexual misconduct and other unacceptable behaviour during Oxfam’s humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake has been made public today.

Oxfam is publishing the report, written in 2011, in order to be as transparent as possible about the decisions made during the investigation and in recognition of the breach of trust that has been caused.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s Executive Director, said “Oxfam is urgently committed to act upon the moral responsibilities we have towards women in Haiti. We are also meeting with the Government of Haiti to apologise for our mistakes and discuss what more we can do. It is vitally important we re-examine what happened, and learn from it.

“The measures we put in place as a result of the investigation mean that the case would be handled differently today, but it is clear that there is much more to be done. The action we are now taking, including an independent review of our culture and practices by women’s rights leaders, will help ensure abuse is rooted out of Oxfam and help us become more effective in our mission to help create lasting solutions to poverty.”

Last week Oxfam announced a comprehensive action plan to strengthen safeguarding systems across the organisation and stamp out abuse. The package of measures includes:
:: A new independent High-Level Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change, comprised of respected women’s and human rights leaders, which will be able to access Oxfam records and interview staff, partners and communities it supports around the world. The names of the Commission co-chairs will be released shortly.
:: The immediate creation of a new global database of accredited referees – designed to end the use of forged, dishonest or unreliable references by past or current Oxfam staff. Oxfam will not be issuing any references until this is in place.
:: An immediate injection of resources into Oxfam’s safeguarding processes, with the number of people working in safeguarding more than doubling over the coming weeks and annual funding more than tripled to just over $1 million.
:: A commitment to improve the culture within Oxfam to ensure that no one faces sexism, discrimination or abuse, that everyone, especially women, feels safe to speak out, and everyone is clear on what behaviour is acceptable or not.

Notes to editors
The full 2011 Haiti internal report is available here
We have redacted names and identifying characteristics to comply with the need for due process and confidentiality required by both privacy law and recommended UN guidelines on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse. The full, un-redacted report has been shared with the Haitian Ambassador in London and a copy will be given to the Haitian government in a meeting on Monday morning (19 February 2018). We have informed the relevant national authorities of the names of the seven men involved in sexual misconduct.


Haiti Suspends Oxfam Great Britain After Sex Scandal
The New York Times, FEB. 22, 2018
Saying it was “shocked at the highest level,” the government of Haiti has suspended the aid group Oxfam Great Britain for two months while it investigates allegations of sexual misconduct by charity employees in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The government took the step two weeks after the organization, the British arm of the umbrella group Oxfam International, acknowledged that employees had been fired or resigned after they were found to have had sex parties with prostitutes in staff housing.

On Thursday, the Haitian minister of planning and external cooperation, Aviol Fleurant, said officials were looking into the incidents and trying to determine whether any of the women were underage.

The government raised the prospect that the British aid organization, which spends $3.9 million annually in Haiti, may not be allowed to resume its work. Mr. Fleurant told Reuters that if investigators establish a link between donations to Oxfam meant for Haiti and criminal activity, officials will “declare Oxfam Great Britain persona non grata, and they would have to leave the country without further delay.”…

Oxfam Impacts: Charities commit to taking better action on safeguarding :: A joint letter from 22 UK charities

Charities commit to taking better action on safeguarding
A joint letter from 22 UK charities
23 Feb 18
As organisations whose core aim is to help the most vulnerable people in the world, we must always confront abusive behaviour and the misuse of power. When it comes from individuals within our sector it is a double betrayal, not just of the people we exist to serve, but of the British people in whose name we operate. Although this is only the action of a small minority of people, it is nonetheless an issue that we will not allow to go unaddressed.

There can be no tolerance for the abuse of power, privilege or trust within our organisations or in our work. We have an absolute duty to our staff, our supporters and, above all, the people we seek to help to ensure we do everything in our power to prevent, detect and eradicate unacceptable behaviour.

As we take every necessary step to right these deep wrongs, we also have a clear responsibility to ensure that the communities we seek to help are not the ones punished for our mistakes. The widespread distress and disappointment that we’ve heard in the past two weeks demonstrates that people feel profound compassion for those who need Britain’s help. We must honour that instinct, and the rights and needs of the communities we work with, by continuing to deliver vital aid but also changing fundamentally.

Safeguarding is something that, as a sector, we have long taken very seriously and all our organisations have systems in place to prevent all forms of abuse and misconduct. However, we can never be complacent. We must do even more to protect the very people we were set up to help.

First and foremost we must continue to create an environment where people feel safe, and confident to report any behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable or which threatens them or their communities.

That is why we are collectively announcing the following series of urgent and immediate measures:
:: We will all increase the resources we devote to safeguarding – meeting our responsibility to protect our staff and beneficiaries.
:: We will collectively review our current referencing systems so that people found to have abused their power or behaved inappropriately are not re-employed in the sector – including in INGOs, government agencies, the UN and other associated bilateral and domestic agencies.
:: We will work with these authorities and regulatory bodies to ensure any individual caught abusing their power cannot do so again.
:: We will work with the government to ensure that we can overcome the legal and institutional barriers to rigorous background checks in the UK.

In taking these steps, we are also asking people to come forward to report unacceptable behaviour. We hope these measures send a clear message to those who experience or witness any form of abuse – it is really important that they know that we will listen and we will take action.

These actions are only the first step as, collectively and individually, we do everything possible to ensure that our organisations, our staff and the work we fund meets that most fundamental criteria for all charities – to serve people and not to exploit them.

Our collective mission is to do much more than that – the challenge we face in our own organisations is a challenge for the whole of society. This is something that requires leadership in every sector – and we ask people from all walks of life and all corners of our communities to help us to strengthen safeguards, tackle abuse and stand up for the vulnerable – and to call out inappropriate behaviour wherever we see it.

We are truly sorry that at times our sector has failed. We must and will do better.

ActionAid UK
BBC Media Action
CARE International UK
Christian Aid
Concern Worldwide UK
Global Citizen
Islamic Relief UK
Mercy Corps Europe
Muslim Aid
Oxfam GB
Plan International UK
Practical Action
Save the Children UK
Start Network
Scotland’s International Development Alliance
World Vision UK