New Minimum Standards for Child Protection a “Milestone in Collective Action”

Minimum Standards for Child Protection
Launch of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection

Press Conference on the Launch of the
Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

With

Neil Boothby
USAID Special Advisor and Senior Coordinator On Children in Adversity

Mike Penrose
Humanitarian Director, Save the Children

Annette Lyth
UNICEF

October 29, 2012

(Link to additional background and text of standards)

Dr. Boothby:  Thank you very much and thank you all for coming.

One way to begin to get our heads around this set of issues would be the following.  Imagine that we woke up tomorrow morning and we read in the newspaper, one of your newspapers that a billion people, a billion children around the world have been exposed to an infectious disease and are at serious risk for health and mental health consequences.  What would you imagine the international community would do if we had a pandemic such as that?  One billion children at risk.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to violence, that’s exactly what we’re facing globally in the world today.  There are over 100 billion children that are exposed to serious forms of violence, abuse and sexual exploitation.  So that’s the context that we’re talking about here.

We know in humanitarian emergencies that these things, these risks that children face can get worse and they can get worse really quickly.  Just as children die in emergencies for the same reasons they die in poverty situations.  Sometimes, however, much more quickly.  It’s the same with violence.  These risks can increase.

That’s why I think we’re all particularly pleased that the Minimum Standards in Child Protection and Humanitarian Action have come out.  It really does represent a milestone in collective action, a milestone in international protection, and it’s an important standard that’s been set here.

The international community defines child protection as the prevention of and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children.  Abuse, exploitation, neglect and violence.  That’s what we’re talking about here.  We’re not talking about everything, we’re talking about something.  And over the years the international community has come up with responses to prevent and mitigate these dangers that children face in humanitarian settings.  And this book in a certain sense then is a compilation of good practices.  It’s been put together by the Interagency Working Group on Child Protection, it’s part of the UN Reform.  They’ve been meeting now for several years here in Geneva and they’ve done an excellent job putting this together.  As you can imagine, representing organizations from different parts of the world, it’s not easy to reach consensus, so the minimum standards may seem less than minimum, they may seem maximum, but it’s an excellent start.  And as we actually field test these to see what works and what not, I think they’ll become even more strategic.

I’d like to just mention a bit about why this is important.  What is so pernicious about violence?  Why be so upset about violence?  Why is that important?  We have data that shows that exposure to neglect, to abuse, to violence in childhood carries with it lifetime long-term health consequences.  We know kids that grow up exposed to violence are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.  We know that children that are exposed to violence, that part of our cognitive development, that part of our brain that regulates our behavior can go haywire.  And we’re unable to regulate our thoughts and our behavior and our emotions.  This is sometimes what we call either toxic stress or PTSD.  We know that combatants that come back from war zones sometimes never recover.  We know children that are exposed to violence that are asked to carry guns that are asked to do things that we would hope would never happen in a child’s lifetime.

It’s not something that you return to whole of child.  It’s not something that anyone forgets or it’s ever sort of a life happily thereafter.

We don’t want to underestimate the resilience of children, the ability to bounce back, but we also have to realize that when it comes to day to day protection, the day to day protection of children, we need other adults in their lives.  We need parents in there mitigating the negative impact.

So a lot of the good practice and policies that are put together are based on experiences that go back as far as the Biafra war and are as recent as what’s happening to Children in Syria today.

So I’m here to congratulate the working group and also mention that the U.S. government is ready to look at these very seriously and look at how we can be part of moving this forward.  I want to thank you.

Ms. Lyth:  As we just heard, violence has serious effects on children and child protection in different ways.  If they’re separated from their parents and end up unaccompanied or they are taken in by other people and maybe they are trafficked away, they get much more exposed to violence.  Violence outside from external acts, it can be humanitarian actors, but also violence in their families.  The stress that the emergency puts on parents, for example, can result in physical violence.  Or that they get occupied with trying to find means for survival and therefore are forced to neglect their children which can end up, look at Vietnam for example, in a high number of children who drowned because the parents just were not able of taking care of their children, were too busy trying to find means to survive.

So therefore, there is no question any longer that child protection is a life-saving activity.  Nevertheless, when I’m out with my colleagues in the field, we still have to struggle with this issue.  Is this lifesaving?  Isn’t houses and food, isn’t that more important?  No, it’s not.  In the meanwhile children are trafficked away, abused, and exposed to violence in a way that has these lifelong effects that we just heard about.

So we really hope that now there will be no question in the future that this is lifesaving.  It’s very important.  We need to plan for it before and we need to take action as soon as it happens after the emergency.

So we now have this clear guidance on what to do.

UNICEF is the lead agency on Child Protection in Emergencies, which means in most situations we’re coordinating the work which is key, of course, when we talk about effective and strategic emergency response.

This, for us, will complement our internal guidance that we already have.  What’s more important is that now we have an agreed framework for what we’re going to do.  We’re all going to have the same benchmarks, what we’re going to do.  We’re going to work in the same direction.  So we have a completely different way of working now and supporting each other in that work.  That’s why we are very excited about that.

Child protection, these are sensitive issues and that’s also why it’s so hard for people to work and to make it visible.  We don’t have that much data, for example, because it’s difficult to collect data on sensitive issues and violence, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.  It happens quite a lot.  Now we have the guidance for how to approach this and make it useable.

Finally, I also just wanted to say that it has been right through, a strong feature of these standards is to see children as actors.  As actors in their own protection, and that when we plan for their protection we’re doing it with participation of children themselves.

So supporting the resilience and the strength in children within themselves is something that is running right through these standards.

We’re looking forward to rolling out this now and seeing how this translates into real action in the field.

Mr. Penrose:  Thank you very much.

I’m sure many of you here are parents, as I am.  I have a five year old son.  The question I hear the most from him is why?  Eat your greens.  Why?  What’s going on outside?  It’s a thunderstorm.  Why?  Go to school.  Why?  That question is what resonates through the heads of children all the time.

If you then transpose the situation.  My son’s lucky enough to live here.  You transpose that situation to Iraq, to Syria, to Yemen, to the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, to all of these contexts where we’re working.  The same questions are being asked by children.

When we’re looking at how we support people caught up in humanitarian action and Save the Children covers all of the spectrum of humanitarian action, it’s very simple.  People are hungry, you give them food.  If people are thirsty, you give them water.  What do you give to a child who is asking why?  Why am I caught up in this?

Children in every single one of the emergencies that we work in, and here I count not only the ones I mentioned, the conflict-based ones, but we also responded to the Australia floods, to Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., to the Japanese tsunami.  The same questions going through their heads.  And in every single context the developed country or developing country we found it’s children who are most at risk of exploitation, of sexual abuse, of trauma caused by what they’ve experienced.

As I said, there are very clear guidelines on what to do if someone’s hungry or thirsty.  But what these offer is a guide on what to do when a child asks why.  As has been adequately explained so far, unless we can answer that question, unless we can provide that sort of support, that’s what cause the long-term impact on children’s lives.  It has a lifetime effect and we’ve seen it again and again and again.  These countries spiraling into an ever-descending circle because children have experienced something they shouldn’t during their youth, no one has answered that question, and they’ve come out the other end marked by their experience.

One of the saddest things as well is in humanitarian action, education and child protection are the two most underfunded sectors.  They’re the two sectors that can have the greatest impact on the long-term future of a child.  But they’re the two most under-funded.  What this (The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action) does is it lays down very very clear examples of what is required in order to get children out of this vicious cycle and therefore representedly what is required in terms of funding.  It is absolutely essential that we don’t just deal with the immediate need in humanitarian crisis, but we deal with the long term.

These standards have been developed by Save the Children and Terre des Hommes from the NGO side.  They really do represent a good linkage with what is traditionally the Sphere standards, the standards that we all uphold in humanitarian action.  These are being developed in coordination with these standards to make sure that they fit and they represent what we should be doing in humanitarian action.

The consultation was very broad.  Four hundred different individuals, 30 agencies, in 40 countries were consulted in order to develop these standards and we think they represent not only the most comprehensive guidance of what’s required by children after they’ve experienced something catastrophic during humanitarian crisis, but a representation to the donor community and the broader humanitarian community of what’s required to tackle not just the immediate need but the long-term needs of children.

Thank you.

Moderator:  I’d like to open it up for questions.

Press:  I would like an understanding why we are valuing here these standards and [inaudible] working group I guess you might belong to.  And [inaudible] the U.S. because you are the ones who organized this press conference which [inaudible] country.  And second of all, I guess you already do in [inaudible] and UNICEF what is written here.  So apart from being a nice [inaudible] NGOs, what is going to really change in the real life?  I’m hoping [inaudible] how it’s going to apply.  What is going to happen to make us understand what is going to change from today to tomorrow to have that from the day before without having that?

Mr. Penrose:  I can start with the last question first, if you like.

In terms of representation of what we do in the field, still the majority of humanitarian action, especially in the immediate term, is done not only by big HQ-centered organizations but by partner organizations and local communities themselves in the field.  What we found with the Sphere standards is it represented very clear aspirational guidelines that we can say to people in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian crisis, this is what is required.

And what these guidelines can do is represent to the whole humanitarian community a common approach, something that we all aspire to achieve and something that we all need to look to try and do, not only to ourselves at the big HQ agencies but also donors, what they should be looking at in terms of funding, and also to that first line of humanitarian responders, the local communities, the partner organizations, other organizations working within the sector.  There is a broad range of people, and not all of them recognize that these standards are required.

Ms. Lyth:  The Child Protection Working Group was to gather all the organizations and agencies that do work on child protection in emergencies and trying to coordinate that work.  It’s one of the biggest challenges.  And every time you do a lesson learned workshop on emergency response coordination, it’s always the biggest problem, the weakest area.

So they have developed this work to be able to provide this kind of policy guidance.  There was a huge need.  People want to do something on children and child protection and very often the front line responders are not the very sophisticated international big organizations.  They are small NGOs, well-meaning people but not that much experience.  So this will really provide them with clear guidance that this is what we need to do when the emergency strikes.  These are the kinds of activities we need to look at.  Looking at this specific context, but what are the kinds of activities?  How does a child-friendly space look like?  What kind of activities do you need?  What do we need to think about if children start to be arrested because of petty crimes or being accused of being associated with an armed group?

We now will have the same policy paper to work from, regardless of where we are in the system.  So that’s what we’re hoping now, that this will also help us to develop a more holistic approach to child protection emergencies.  Also helping us to work with the most sensitive issues.  Children being sexually abused and so forth, which are weak areas at the moment.

That’s what we hope.

Dr. Boothby:  From U.S. government standpoint we’re keenly interested in this work.  We recently have gone through our own exercise and come up with what is the U.S. government’s first-ever action plan for children in adversity.  We define adversity as follows — prolonged, sustained deprivation and/or danger.

In our action plan there are three primary objectives, and this is going to guide about $2.8 [million] worth of expenditures.  Two of the three are very relevant to this conversation.  We have a Families First objective.  We want to prevent separation due to poverty.  If children are separated in emergencies we want to reunify them.  If kids are in orphanages but have families around the corner but they’re too poor to keep them, we want to reorient financial support to the family so they don’t have to go to an orphanage to go to school, which is the majority of children in orphanages in the world.  That’s their case.  Then the violence reduction agenda objective in the U.S. action plan is very very lined up with what we’re talking about here.

So we’re pleased that there’s synchronage here.  And we are looking very very seriously at how we can help move this forward globally through foreign assistance in general, but in particular in places like Syria, in places like Somalia, in places where there are emergencies and political conflict.

Press:  I was wondering, [inaudible] here on corporate guidelines in your terms of reference, corporations are passing the buck saying they’re not responsible for the supply chain, especially international [buyers].

Secondly, what terms of reference do you have for transparency where you have violations as you had in the West Africa sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers, UN agencies and NGO officials?  Then there was a collective cover-up to limit the damage.  So what are the new terms of reference in terms of when there is a problem, bringing that into the limelight?

Mr. Penrose:  The corporate guidelines.  I think it’s important to recognize what these represent.  They’re minimum standards.  They’re applicable by anyone.  We would hope that —

Press:  But I’m not seeing corporation responsibilities here.

Mr. Penrose:  What do you mean in terms of their responsibilities?

Press:  For instance, I’m an international buyer.  I contract something.  Then an NGO goes out and says this was child labor, as has been the case in [inaudible] for instance.

Mr. Penrose:  This is particularly focused on humanitarian actions, so the immediate —

Press:  — war zone.

Mr. Penrose:  I understand entirely.  But within the corporate guidelines, again, there are certain things that are applicable by all parties and certain things which is a practitioner’s guide for agencies responding to humanitarian crisis.

I fully agree with you, there is a requirement within the corporate supply chain, about transparency and guidance as to what people should be doing, but I think that’s a separate issue to the humanitarian action and the minimum standards for practitioners within a humanitarian environment.

Press:  But corporations are involved in humanitarian mechanisms whether it’s providers of services or goods, they are [inaudible].  And I don’t see in terms of reference on what their responsibilities are here.

Mr. Penrose:  As I said, I think this is a practitioner’s guide and —

Press:  You have the [inaudible] guidelines within this.

Mr. Penrose:  As I said, I think it’s a practitioner’s guide and I think the intent behind this is for people tackling and responding to humanitarian crises.

Ms. Lyth:  I’d also just say that it has gone through a round of consultations as well and it hasn’t come up from any of the field actors.  Maybe it will —

Press:  Corporate people were consulted?

Moderator:  I think this is very specifically focused on humanitarian agencies and —

Press:  I understand that, but what I’m saying is corporations are involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid whether it’s TNT or —

Ms. Lyth:  There is a standard on child protection and distribution, for example.  That standard would then apply.

Press:  That’s in here?

Ms. Lyth:  Yes, that’s one of the standards.  So that would apply, of course, to anyone who is involved in that distribution.  That’s how we were hoping that this will lead also to a stronger accountability.  Because all people are involved, all different kind of stakeholders in these areas, would have clear guidance of what to expect from people delivering humanitarian assistance, in particular when it comes to child protection.

It will help reveal peacekeepers who do sexual abuse, that’s questionable.  But it is one step of trying to support and help stakeholders to be able to hold humanitarian actors more accountable to what we can expect them to do.

Press:  What’s the mechanism?  My other question was should we have a major violation in some, whether it’s camp or whatever, how does the mechanism work?  How does this interagency system move forward?

Ms. Lyth:  There is not one mechanism, but there are guidelines on how you set up a complaint mechanism, for example; and how you set up a monitor and reporting mechanism if it’s a conflict area, for example.  But by nature it looks different in different situations and different areas.

To support accountability was one of the strongest reasons for developing this.

Dr. Boothby:  The only thing I would add to that is I think we need to look at this for what it is, which is really a practitioner’s guide to responding to child protection and emergencies.  But within the larger context.

For example, there are initiatives with ILO and I know our Department of Labor is engaged in various efforts in West Africa, for example, where I just was taking a look at some of the programs to address some of the issues which you’re discussing which are incredibly important.

In the same way different governments, I think Australia for example, is pretty far out ahead of the game here in terms of developing code of conducts for its employees that work overseas, for example, that would hold them accountable.

The U.S. government, we’re trying to catch up on this and we’re just starting these conversations ourselves and putting together codes of conduct in terms of behavior.  So what we saw in West Africa, in which people that were there to help children actually were harming children.  And quite frankly we see that in a lot of the peacekeeping efforts and other things, so it is a widespread pernicious problem, is part of a package that the international community needs to come together on more firmly and what not.

So I see this as being part of this larger, very very important ethical, moral concern that we all need to engage in this conspiracy business here.  It’s not going to be one set of guidelines.  But we’re trying to knit together a network here that really is to protect these children, sometimes from ourselves.

Mr. Penrose:  I think that broader set of guidelines is a very important point, off the back of West Africa.  Most agencies who either were there at the time or involved at all developed a very robust set of codes of conduct.  The whole principle of “do no harm” also came very much off the back of that and other experiences.

So in terms of this being one part of that, we couldn’t agree more.  And I think you’ll find there is a robust set now across most agencies of codes of conduct and approaches to doing no harm in these environments.

Press:  There are some elements that should be included in the standards, but it is not included in the 26 standards.  Of course each of you think it is important but there is no consensus on the part of many organizations.  It there are some, what were they?

Ms. Lyth:  I think we managed to cover most.  The one area that is not that prominent at this stage is the risk reduction.  But that’s mainly because the question [inaudible] in child protection, so it hasn’t been developed firm enough to really be incorporated properly.  So that’s something that is flagged here for something to be relied later on to strengthen the risk reduction on the preventive side of child protection in emergency.

Dr. Boothby:   I think one of the challenges when you work in emergencies, if you remember when you’re a child and you’d be at the racetrack and somebody would say get ready, get set, go, and you’d take off, then the winner.  In emergencies it’s really go, ready, get set.

So when we talk about minimum guidelines and what we can do in the first two days, in the first eight weeks and what not, it is minimum in some ways.

So I think a lot of things got pared down in the interest of strategic focus.  I think what we’re going to find here too, this is a big set of minimum standards, so if you’re UNICEF responsible for a mega emergency or Save the Children, and you’re out there, and you’ve got this set.  You still have to wake up in the morning and say where do I start today?  So I think you’re going to see some more prioritization of where the rubber hits the road, but eventually we want to make sure that within a reasonable amount of time that we’re addressing these critical issues.  The situation itself will determine what set is more important.

Press:  Two questions, if I may.  First of all, to whom is this report addressed?  Is it addressed to governments?  Is it various aid organizations overall?

Secondly, do you not pretend to ignore the plight of children in so-called developed countries?  In my own country, Britain, outrageous examples of abuse of children which have never been dealt with satisfactorily.

Thank you.

Mr. Penrose:  To start with the last first.  This is very much aimed at humanitarian action rather than ongoing chronic abuses of children.  But within that, it’s certainly very applicable within the developed context.  As I was saying before, some of the examples of responses we’ve done in recent years within those contexts include the Australia floods, the Japanese tsunami, the Bangkok flooding as well.  We’ve found that children, invariably either in that context or in the Somalia’s or the Sudan’s, are the first to fall through social safety nets or any form of safety net.  A lot of this is aimed at how we stop children affected by these acute humanitarian situations falling through those social safety nets.  So it certainly is applicable within the developed context, but very much aimed at practitioners within the humanitarian arena.

On your second question, who is it aimed at, I think the answer is all of the above.  It is aimed at governments to help them guide where they need to prioritize their funding.  As I said, child protection is one of the most underfunded sectors alongside when you compare it to food and medical interventions.

To practitioners, to help them guide their actions, so we have a unified approach and it’s appropriate.

And to anybody engaged in the humanitarian sector to make sure they understand the importance of child protection, the place and the role it plays and the standards we aspire to to achieve it.

Dr. Boothby:  I think you’re absolutely right in terms of not only the UK, but we can pick any country around the world and look at the perniciousness of violence, of domestic violence, of sexual violence.  And the betrayal really in schools, for example, of people that are supposed to be helping children, in churches, in humanitarian organizations. It seems to be very very prevalent, whether you’re taking about London or San Francisco or Argesa, for example.  This is one of the things I think we need to work together to wake each other up about. We’re facing a pandemic and we know how serious and critical it is, but we’re asleep at the switch here.

The other thing I guess I would like to sort of say in terms of an audience.  I agree with what our Save the Children colleague said and I’m just going to sort of touch back on something that our UNICEF colleague suggested, which is part of the audience we’re addressing is really the people who make decisions about humanitarian priorities.  And it used to be that a humanitarian emergency, the bell run when people died at alarming rates.  It was mortality that drove the alarm.  Hence the food and hence the medical stuff.  But in today’s world, many if not most humanitarian emergencies are not defined by mortality.  They’re defined by human suffering.  So this is putting us out there to an audience ourselves, and decision-makers and how governments spend money and say it’s time to wake up to reality here.  Human suffering is what a lot of this is about.

Press:  I was wondering, the definition of humanitarian action, does that include manmade economic disasters?  What we saw for instance after the collapse of communism in Romania and other countries where the children were abandoned or what we’re seeing now in the economic meltdown in Greece.  Does your definition include manmade economic disasters?

Mr. Penrose:  The broader humanitarian definition is saving lives and alleviating suffering, wherever that may be found.

Press:  So that could include situations of economic —

Mr. Penrose:  It could include any situation where children are directly affected and are suffering because of an incident that requires saving lives or alleviating human suffering.  We have ourselves at Save the Children looked into work in Greece, we’ve looked into all these aspects.  We would expect to apply the same standards within those environments because I think as was correctly said —

Press:  — you get the impression that it’s exempt.

Mr. Penrose:  No, no.

Press:  It’s economic conflict as well.

Mr. Penrose:  Yes, all contexts where this is required.

 

Dr. Boothby:  The Romanian example I think is actually very very important in the sense that as the international community moves away form, or takes the dialectic between the sovereign rights of a nation and the responsibility to respond.  It’s that dialect that goes on.  Romania was a case in point.  We had, I don’t remember the exact number, but there were tens of thousands, maybe even more, kids put in these orphanages through this sort of social experiment.  And if you look at the research that’s come out of the Bucharest study, for example, do you know the average IQ of kids that were institutionalized?  60.  The average IQ in the communities that surrounded the orphanages was 103.  If you moved a child out of the orphanage under the age of 18 months, four to five years later the child recovered to an IQ of about 90, 95, but never the same.  If you waited after 24 months and removed the child, it never really got beyond about 78.

 

So we’re crippling the children but also the nation itself.  But we didn’t call that a humanitarian crisis or disaster.  We waited until something else happened.

 

I’m right there in terms of the responsibility to respond when there’s some pretty nasty stuff going on.

 

Mr. Penrose:  It’s part of why we changed our lexicon.  If you’d been here five years ago you would have heard the word emergency used the whole time.  Emergency response, emergency action.  We use humanitarian because it covers all contexts where there’s a requirement to save lives or alleviate suffering.  This being as evident to the aftermath of an earthquake.

 

Press:  We’ve had lots of these guidelines in the past. Zero tolerance guidelines [inaudible] et cetera.  New sets come.  But does anyone follow through on it?  What’s the field work showing?  Are people taking these serious at the field level?

 

Ms. Lyth:  We think people will use this because it’s something that has been demanded.  There is a huge need, these people are asking —

 

Press:  It’s not the first set of guidelines we’ve seen.  My question is —

 

Ms. Lyth:  It depends on what kind of guidelines you talk about.  Because the guidelines for how you protect children in emergencies, they haven’t really been developed in this format before.

 

But we do plan to follow through and look at how they are being implemented.  That’s part of — We just are discussing the implementation strategy.  But a big part of that will be to follow how it’s being implemented and how it’s being rolled out and how people are using it and what’s useful and what is not useful.  Eventually we will revise them if they show some weaknesses in any respect.

 

Dr. Boothby:  The challenge I think will be dissemination and uptake and then feasibility.  If you look at a place like Syria right now, in the contested areas, you can’t do most of the stuff because the problem really is access.  So we’re really talking about strategies of children under siege and what you can do to encourage parents in sort of a secondary way to buffer their children from violence.

 

Whereas today in a place like Somalia where things are beginning to open up and what not, one would expect a lot more of this.  But how you get these to the government of Somalia, for example, to the civil society there, that’s going to be the challenge.

 

I would challenge you and the other press, look at these things.  You all also ought to be the watchdogs of these standards and see the extent to which they’re being implemented.  And when you don’t see them implemented you should be criticizing the various powers to be or implementers.  And when you do see them implemented you ought to be telling the good news in some ways.

 

We need you to understand what these are.  So you’re part of the problem or also part of the solution.

 

Mr. Penrose:  It’s one of the reasons we modeled these very much on [Sphere] standards is because they are the ones in terms of the other sectors that become universally applicable.  They’re the aspirational standards in terms of water, shelter, food, et cetera that people aspire to achieve.  So there are examples of standards that have become universal and this is looked to complement very much those in terms of being practical, easy to access and aspirational.  It sets the standards we should aspire to achieve in every humanitarian crisis.  Exactly as Dr. Boothby said, what we need to do is monitor the application now and hold up a big red flag every time we see them either being ignored or not applied.

 

Ms. Lyth:  In addition I’d like to say that one of the biggest obstacles for child protection emergencies now is the funding.  It’s one of the, as was already said, it’s one of the least funded areas.  But we hope with this now that everybody will agree that this is life-saving, it’s very concrete.  There are things that can be rolled out immediately after something has happened and so we also hope that this will help to be able to hold donors accountable for how they prioritize.

 

Dr. Boothby:  On the donor front, as I mentioned the U.S. government is stepping up on these areas and we have colleagues here from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and also from the Bureau of Refugee Programs.  In OFDA, the Office of Foreign Disasters, it is now required to have a protection element in all of our responses for an example.

 

The government of the United States and other governments are also setting up a public/private partnership called Protecting the Future Alliance in which we’re going to be mobilizing a global, a bigger global platform and donor base around these issues.

 

So it’s time we all stepped up.

 

Press:  I’m quite sure this booklet is very full of very [useable] information and directives, but I’m a bit lost with the [inaudible] framework.  So I will just [inaudible] question relating to that.  [Inaudible] babies and children first.  Was it just [inaudible] or was it [inaudible] some international or national convention like sea-faring rules, or I don’t know?  The same with the soldiers.  Even the Nazis [inaudible] protecting the mother and the child.  Does anything in the rule of law, the Geneva Convention apply specifically to that?  And who will be in charge of [inaudible] for senior protection in humanitarian action?

 

Moderator:  We’ll start with the first question, women and children first.

 

Mr. Penrose:  I can just tell you I’m not an academic and I haven’t researched the background.

 

Dr. Boothby:  The women and children first are in various international declarations of human rights, so it’s there.  I don’t believe it’s in the Geneva Convention. But it is in human rights declarations.  So it’s not something that we made up.  It’s something that over the years the international community found to be important.

 

The second question was —

 

Moderator:  Senior —

 

Dr. Boothby:  That one I can’t answer.

 

Ms. Lyth:  Our working group is only looking at children, but there is an overall protection cluster under which they look at all vulnerable groups including elderly.  That wouldn’t be us.  That would be the wider protection cluster that looks at them.

 

Press:   Are you coordinating any —

 

Ms. Lyth: Yes, yes, we do.

 

Press:  So is anything in the pipeline, same size, same color, different —

 

Ms. Lyth:  Not at the moment, but it’s certainly something that the humanitarian community is already aware.  That’s one of the most vulnerable groups and neglected at the moment.  But I don’t think there is anything like this in the pipeline at the moment.

 

Press:  — writers.  [Laughter].

 

Press:  I think as far as thinking through, it makes a point because in a lot of humanitarian crisis/conflict zones it’s normally the grandparents who are looking after the kids.  The parents are being killed or taken hostage or whatever.  In most war situations you see grandparents looking after lots of kids.

 

Mr. Penrose:  Exactly.  There are agencies that do —