Enabling the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance.

INSSA Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct for Members of the International NGO Safety and Security Association

 

PREAMBLE

The membership of the International NGO Safety and Security Association (INSSA) is dedicated to the continuing professionalization of humanitarian and development security management in a manner that enables assistance programs and minimizes risks to those who deliver it. As committed security professionals who embrace the fundamental tenets of principled assistance, INSSA has developed this code of conduct for its membership that establishes, maintains and promotes accountable, transparent, equitable and technically competent safety and security services.

 

PRINCIPLES

1. Humanitarian Principles and Values
INSSA members are first and foremost aid workers and members of the relief and development sectors1. As security professionals, members shall strive to maintain and uphold the idea of “first, do no harm” in their work, and shall strive to the extent possible, to make security management strategies consistent with humanitarian principles and values.

2. Accountability
INSSA members shall take all reasonable actions to reduce the inherent risks to those engaged in relief and development activities. Members shall not act in a way that may cause unnecessary risks to themselves or others.

3. Equality
INSSA members shall address the unique vulnerabilities resulting from these differences. Members shall respect the basic human rights of all people, and shall not act in a way that infringes on these rights.

4. Integrity and Professionalism
INSSA members shall uphold the highest level of integrity and professionalism, and act in ways that contribute to their professional credibility. Members shall conduct themselves in an honest and transparent manner, respecting local customs, laws and cultural practices that are consistent with United Nations conventions and international legal frameworks.

5. Skills and Knowledge
INSSA members shall maintain appropriate competencies through professional development and learning activities.

6. Conflicts of Interest
INSSA members shall avoid the appearance of, as well as any actual, conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest is any circumstance that would cast doubt on a member’s ability to act with objectivity with regard to the professional interests. INSSA members shall disclose any potential conflicts of interest to the Association.

PRINCIPLES AND GUIDING NOTES

These guiding notes are intended to assist the understanding and implementation of the Code.

1.Humanitarian Principles and Values
Principle
:

INSSA members are first and foremost aid workers and members of the relief and development sectors2. As security professionals, members shall strive to maintain and uphold the idea of “first, do no harm” in their work, and shall strive to the extent possible, to make security management strategies consistent with humanitarian principles and values.

Indicators:

Members are able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Sphere Humanitarian Charter3, the Core Humanitarian Standard4, and the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief5.

Member’s actions and behavior are consistent with the specified humanitarian principles and values.

Guiding Notes:
It is important for INSSA members to be conversant with the above references and to recognize safety and security as integral to the delivery of aid programs.  ‘Aid  workers’ are individuals who provide emergency or development assistance in complex environments, in a manner consistent with the principles and values spelled out in the Sphere Humanitarian Charter6, the Core Humanitarian Standard7, and the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief8.

As aid workers, INSSA members should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of relief and development assistance programming and integrate this knowledge into their security-related advice, decisions or actions. This will strengthen communication, understanding and respect between security managers and their program/project management counterparts.

2. Accountability
Principle:
INSSA members shall take all reasonable actions to reduce the inherent risks to those engaged in relief and development activities. Members shall not act in a way that may cause unnecessary risks to themselves or others.

Indicators:

Member’s attitude and behavior demonstrates a responsible approach to the provision of advice and services.

Member’s accountability and compliance responsibilities are explicitly referenced in their employment contracts.

Members are encouraged to continually self-assess their performance to ensure accountability and quality of service. They should participate in performance management reviews and customer evaluations whenever possible. Feedback on advice and services is vital to assessing performance. Such processes help identify strengths which may then be enhanced, and areas in need of improvement.

The principle of Accountability is linked to an individual’s legal obligations to ensure the advice and services they provide do not lead to acts of negligence. Legal liability varies from county to country. The applicable jurisdiction should always be explicitly identified in employment or consultancy contracts.

3. Equality
Principle
:

INSSA members shall address the unique vulnerabilities resulting from these differences. Members shall respect the basic human rights of all people, and shall not act in a way that infringes on these rights.

Indicators:

Members are able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of basic human rights.

Member’s attitude, behavior and decision-making explicitly consider vulnerabilities of all affected individuals or groups.

Guiding Notes:
Members recognize the importance of consultation and communication when designing or delivering safety and security services to aid organizations and people. Members should encourage an inclusive approach to the development of safety and security policies, plans and procedures. This will ensure all relevant people have an opportunity to provide input and have their concerns acknowledged and considered.

Different people or groups will face different vulnerabilities. This will always be a reflection of the context and situation in which these people find themselves in. It is important for INSSA members to be able to assess the context and situation, identify the threats that exist in the operating environment, and analyze the risks these threats pose to different people and groups in accordance with their specific vulnerabilities. Only then can appropriate risk mitigation be determined and implemented.

4. Integrity and Professionalism
Principle:
INSSA members shall uphold the highest level of integrity and professionalism, and act in ways that contribute to their professional credibility.  Members shall conduct themselves in an honest and transparent manner, respecting local customs, laws and cultural practices that are consistent with United Nations conventions and international legal frameworks. 

Indicators:

Members are able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of local customs, laws and cultural practices and confidently communicate to others, any concerns of these customs, laws and practices that do not conform to international legal norms.

Members demonstrate integrity and professionalism through participation in transparent monitoring and evaluation processes.

Guiding Notes:
Often safety and security tasks require the service provider to be at the front line of aid delivery and engaging with a wide variety of other actors. The reputation of an aid program or project is explicitly linked to the behaviors of the people involved in the program’s delivery. Therefore the highest level of professionalism is necessary to reduce the risk of the aid program being perceived as anything other than a legitimate effort to reduce suffering in accordance with generally recognized principles and standards.

As part of security planning, respect of local customs, laws and cultural practices should always be taken into consideration when designing and implementing proactive acceptance approaches. In some contexts, local norms may challenge INSSA member’s own personal beliefs or values. It is important that when members find themselves in this situation, they maintain a professional and impartial attitude during the conduct of their duties, and not permit their personal views to influence their professional judgment.

5. Skills and Knowledge
Principle:
INSSA members shall maintain appropriate competencies through professional development and learning activities.

Indicators:

Members are able to present proof of competencies and relevant experience.

Members are able to demonstrate the application of these skills and experience through the competent delivery of safety and security services.

Guiding Notes:
Employers generally require their employees or consultants to hold relevant qualifications and/or experience that allows the person to competently carry out their assigned duties. It is important that INSSA members not only rely on valuable life experiences, but also actively improve their knowledge through formal learning and professional development. This will ensure that members remain informed of the latest developments and critical thinking related to their fields of expertise and are able to apply this knowledge to various contexts.

INSSA members are encouraged to actively participate in forums and learning events. This provides an opportunity for members to contribute to the body of knowledge on aid worker safety and security and share lessons learned and other valuable experiences. Participating in research projects or undertaking advanced learning ensures members remain informed and strengthens their credibility as providers of professional advice and services.

6. Conflict of Interest
Principle:
INSSA members shall avoid the appearance of, as well as any actual, conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest is any circumstance that would cast doubt on a member’s ability to act with objectivity with regard to the professional interests. INSSA members shall disclose any potential conflicts of interest to Association.

Indicators:

Members are aware of and apply the correct process for reporting potential conflicts of interest.

Members are not the subject of complaints or concerns by another party that relate specifically to conflicts of interest with this Association.

Guiding Notes:
The Principles of this Code are complementary to each other. Avoiding, disclosing or taking appropriate management action related to conflicts of interest is demonstrating a willingness to be accountable (Principle 2), and an effort to act with integrity and professionalism (Principle 4).

The Association provides a space for like-minded individuals to contribute to and gain professional recognition for their contributions to the aid sector. It is critical that the highest level of professionalism is maintained by the Association and by extension, its members. A member who finds him/herself in a conflict of interest, whether real or perceived, risks damaging the reputation of the Association as a whole, and therefore risks the reputation of all members.

 

COMPLIANCE with the CODE

To uphold the highest professional standards for relief and development security personnel, INSSA members are obliged to respect the Code of Conduct and to behave in accordance with the principles and standards described within it.


1 It is acknowledged that individuals and organizations working in these environments may carry out activities that would more accurately be described as humanitarian, developmental, peace-building, protection, advocacy, etc. or any combination of the above.

2 It is acknowledged that individuals and organizations working in these environments may carry out activities that would more accurately be described as humanitarian, developmental, peace-building, protection, advocacy, etc. or any combination of the above.

3 The Sphere Humanitarian Charter (available from http://www.sphereproject.org/content/view/25/84/lang,english/) specifies the following principles: (1) the right to life with dignity; (2) the distinction between combatants and non-combatants; (3) the principle of non-refoulement; and (4) minimum standards.

4 The Core Humanitarian Standard (available from https://corehumanitarianstandard.org/the-standard) sets out nine commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. 

5 The Red Cross Movement Code of Conduct (available from http://www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/index.asp) specifies the following principles: (1) the humanitarian imperative comes first; (2) impartiality (Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone); (3) aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint; (4) not acting as instruments of government foreign policy; (5) respect for culture and custom; (6) building disaster responses on local capacities; (7) involving program beneficiaries in the management of relief aid; (8) aid shall strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs; (9) accountability to both beneficiaries and donors; and (10) portraying disaster victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless victims.

6 The Sphere Humanitarian Charter (available from http://www.sphereproject.org/content/view/25/84/lang,english/) specifies the following principles: (1) the right to life with dignity; (2) the distinction between combatants and non-combatants; (3) the principle of non-refoulement; and (4) minimum standards.


7 The Core Humanitarian Standard's nine commitments are available from https://corehumanitarianstandard.org.

8 The Red Cross Movement Code of Conduct (available from http://www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/index.asp) specifies the following principles: (1) the humanitarian imperative comes first; (2) impartiality (Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone); (3) aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint; (4) not acting as instruments of government foreign policy; (5) respect for culture and custom; (6) building disaster responses on local capacities; (7) involving program beneficiaries in the management of relief aid; (8) aid shall strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs; (9) accountability to both beneficiaries and donors; and (10) portraying disaster victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless victims.

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