Oxfam cannot exonerate itself from the charges made against it and will not try. We will establish a High-Level Commission to operate at arms-length from Oxfam, comprised of senior leaders from across the world. Its Independent CoChairs will determine the scope of its own inquiry in consultation with the Board of Oxfam International. It will have full powers to investigate past and present cases, policies, practices, and culture. It will listen to criticisms and allegations, particularly in relation to the abuse of power and sexual misconduct. It will endeavor to create a
comprehensive historical record which will be made publicly available. Oxfam will be guided by whatever recommendations the Commission makes.
On March 16, 2018, Oxfam established an Independent Commission (IC) on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change to conduct a confederation-wide review of its culture, accountability and safeguarding policies, procedures and practice. Zainab Bangura, former United Nations Under-Secretary General, and Katherine Sierra, former World Bank Vice-President, were brought in to co-lead a team of business, government and civil society experts with responsibility to report directly to the Commission and publish their
final report within 14 months (May 2019). The Commission has been tasked with proposing recommendations on how Oxfam can better align with its values and strengthen its systems to prevent and respond to all forms of abuse of power, harassment, and interpersonal misconduct, including sexual misconduct, by anyone involved with Oxfam.
As previously reported, the IC had set plans to visit ten countries and a range of affiliates and Oxfam International headquarters to understand the perspectives of staff, partners and communities; established a Survivor Reference Group to ground its work in the realities of survivor experiences; agreed protocols for speaking to survivors, whistle blowers, staff or concerned people; met with a range of sector stakeholders; and set up a direct email for anyone to use, as well as a website and twitter account to ensure transparency.
Other reviews were also undertaken which will feed into the IC's final report: Oxfam GB continued to cooperate with the UK Charity Commission statutory enquiry and conducted its own staff culture survey; Oxfam America and Oxfam India contracted independent reviews of their safeguarding work and organizational culture. In addition, Oxfam contracted two consultants to review the case management of historical cases to assess what was done well and areas for improvement. The recommendations arising from this work will feed into the Commission's final report.
Progress January 2019:
- The IC has released an Interim Report on 16 January 2019 (please find the report on the IC website) and the Oxfam Management Response can be found here. We commit to use the IC report to address weaknesses in our progress to date in order to build more swiftly a culture of safety and
equality; one that empowers all who encounter Oxfam.
- The Commission contracted Proteknon Consulting Group, an expert in community and participatory research, to ask local communities in three countries as to what improvements they want for reporting abuse and getting support during an investigation. Its research is now being reviewed and the outcomes will be included in the final IC report in May.
- The IC continued to visit Oxfam teams around the world. So far it has visited five country programs and two offices of the Oxfam International secretariat. They met with partners, communities, staff (including in female and male only spaces) and government officials. Commissioners also visited five affiliates to gain insight into safeguarding practice.
- Another consultancy group has continued to review past safeguarding cases, excluding those that the UK Charity Commission has reviewed, and selected a number for further examination from a range of affiliates. Their findings will feed into the IC's final report.
- Oxfam GB is continuing to cooperate with the UK Charity Commission's statutory inquiry.