Spotlight on the Code – Quality Principle 1 – Rights, Inclusion & Protection

Raewyn Lans

30 Nov, 2018

Quality Principle 1 recognises the centrality of individual and collective human rights, inclusive participation, equity and protection for those who are vulnerable and those who are affected by the intersecting drivers of marginalisation and exclusion, which include but are not restricted to race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class and socio-economic status.

ACFID’s members work in the understanding that the realisation of human rights is fully consistent with the achievement of aid and development and that conversely, the denial of rights, especially to vulnerable groups is an active barrier to their development. 

Quality Principle 1 calls on ACFID’s members to not only respect and protect the human rights of the individuals and communities where they work, but to commit to advancing the inclusion of all, and to strive for a world where all individuals can enjoy their rights to the fullest extent. 

QP 1 articulates this approach by committing members to:

  • Human rights;
  • Addressing the needs and rights of vulnerable and marginalised people;
  • International standards in humanitarian assistance;
  • Protection of children; and
  • Safeguarding those who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation & abuse (incoming change to the Code as of 1 January 2019)

Under each Quality Principle are a series of Commitments. The majority of these are not new to the Code and will be familiar to our members; however, whilst some have been adapted and strengthened, there are some new additions.

Commitment 1.1: We respect and protect human rights

Commitment 1.1 requires our members to

  • Demonstrate an organisational commitment to human rights.
  • Contribute to the realisation of human rights in their development and humanitarian initiatives.
  • Protect primary stakeholders from discrimination, violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect based on an analysis of the context in which they are working.

These are deliberately framed to provide scope for the diverse approaches that ACFID’s members take in contributing to the realisation of human rights.

ACFID National Conference 2018 gave us an opportunity to further discussions around the integration of human rights in our work through breaking down traditional silos between the environment movement, development and humanitarian actors and human rights defenders, institutions and conventions. 

This was reinforced by Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, the Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network, whose presentation highlighted that there is “no division between human rights, development and humanitarian work. It is our reality that all these things are there at the same time”.

Simarly, Joan Carling, former Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact outlined the importance of ensuring the human rights dialogue remains forefront in the implementation of the SDGs.

The conference sessions were recorded on the day and will be made public via our ACFID YouTube channel over the coming weeks – you can subscribe to stay ahead of the game.

As part of this Spotlight, ACFID’s Development Practice Committee (DPC) is putting forward a blog that focuses on human rights principles, context and power analysis and explores ways in which we can inform and encourage organisational and programmatic good practice in applying rights principles. Simon Eccleshall from Islamic Relief Australia authors this blog, which builds from the fertile ground of ideas and methods presented at the recent ACFID conference. Watch out for this blog in December.

Additionally, we interview Chief Executive Officer of Sport Matters, Jackie Lauff. Jackie shares with us some practical examples which illustrate the power that sport plays in international development, particularly highlighting their approaches to a rights-based approach and the ways in which this dynamic small-sized NGO "make rights real for those we work with...when it comes to sport for development, human rights is fundamental to our approach". The video comes out next week.

Commitment 1.2: We respect and respond to the needs, rights and inclusion of those who are vulnerable and those who are affected by marginalisation and exclusion

Commitment 1.2 has 4 compliance indicators. The first requires our members to demonstrate an organisational commitment to inclusion and representation, and to list the factors contributing to vulnerability, marginalisation and exclusion. Through the extensive consultation process on the development of this Code, marginalisation due to gender identity, sexuality and sexual orientation has been included in the list of factors that contribute to vulnerability, marginalisation and exclusion. The Code acknowledges that the commitment to addressing factors of vulnerability will be fulfilled ‘in context-specific ways’. 

ACFID’s Sexual Rights in Development Community of Practice, supported by funding through the RDI Network, is releasing a Learning Paper on “Faith, sexual orientation, gender identity and the ACFID Code of Conduct”. The Learning Paper is intended primarily to support our members in adhering to the revised Code in the light of this inclusion, as well as working towards acknowledgement and protection of sexual rights for all. Watch out for this in December. The other compliance indicators ensure that members consider the following in terms of those who are vulnerable and affected by marginalisation and exclusion;

  • Consulting them to inform the planning process
  • Monitor and evaluate progress in addressing their needs
  • Considering potential impact of the NGO’s activities in relation to preventing unintended harm

Commitment 1.3: We support people affected by crisis

Commitment 1.3 are only relevant to Members that support or undertake humanitarian assistance. It requires these members to

  • Be guided by the humanitarian assistance principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality.
  • Recognise and work towards application of the Core Humanitarian Standard (‘CHS’)
  • Coordinate and complement the work of others providing assistance
  • Promote the role and leadership of local actors

In particular, the requirement to promote the role of local actors in the context of humanitarian assistance is a strengthened requirement in the current Code and is consistent with Commitments made at the World Humanitarian summit in May 2016. It seeks to promote more locally led humanitarian responses which can be achieved through identifying local communities and organisations who can play a role in providing humanitarian assistance, promoting leadership by local actors on humanitarian responses.

We will hosting a blog that teases out the importance of the CHS and its values, the benefits and challenges of coordinating and complementing the work of others in a humanitarian crises response, and other reflections on the importance of applying these Code requirements in all humanitarian initiatives. Watch out for this blog coming soon.

Commitment 1.4: We advance the safeguarding of children

Commitment 1.4 requires members to

  • Demonstrate their organisational commitment to the safeguarding of children
  • Have a code of conduct that advances child safeguarding behaviours and applies to all personnel, partners and project visitors
  • Have a documented child safeguarding incident reporting procedure and complaints handling procedure that aligns with principles of privacy and promotes safety and dignity

The ACFID Code  addresses safeguarding at a number of levels, but the Commitment at 1.4. targets child protection policies and processes in its entirety. Importantly, members must extend these requirements to their implementing partners, which can be achieved though MoUs or similar.

ACFID’s Guidelines for the Development of a Child Safeguarding Policy has been revised and is available via the free online Good Practice Toolkit. They shift focus from child protection to child safeguarding, to reflect the shift in approach and language within our sector. There is increased alignment with DFAT’s child protection requirements and DFAT’s Professional Behaviours.

As part of this Spotlight, DFAT will present a webinar on child protection on 11th December – register for this free webinar here. The webinar seeks to describe some of the risks children can be exposed to through development and humanitarian programs, and the ways these risks can be managed. They will also provide information on the support materials available to partners. The webinar will be recorded and made available afterwards on your ACFID YouTube channel.

Importantly, if you are interested in ACFID’s Child Protection E-learning courses, we now have a free ‘taster’ so you can preview some of the content. The 3 modules are developed for anyone working in international development – staff members, board members, partners, volunteers, interns, field workers, and consultants. They can be used as an induction or introductory resource, a refresher course; or a tool to assist delivery partners to understand child protection and are relevant even for those who have incidental contact with children. Preview the child protection eLearning here.

Commitment 1.5: We advance the safeguarding of those who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse

Commitment 1.5 is the most recent addition to the Code, recently voted in at ACFID’s AGM in October, and will be implemented on January 1st, 2019.  It requires members to demonstrate their organisational commitment to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse thought the implementation of a policy to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse and a focal person.

ACFID will provide guidance and tools to support members to comply with this new requirement.

As part of this Spotlight, ACFID looks forward to sharing with you a recording of the Conference concurrent session “Preventing sexual misconduct and safeguarding human rights”.This video is a must-see for all those who weren't there first hand – with speakers from WaterAid Australia, ActionAid Afghanistan,, DFAT, ACFID and an independent specialist consultant. They explore the challenges and showcasing examples of good practice and leadership from our sector and beyond. It complements the findings and recommendations of the independent review to improve practice and response of ACFID’s 119 members in the prevention of sexual misconduct – see final report here.

We hope you enjoy the journey as we turn the spotlight on QP1.


  • Raewyn Lans
    Raewyn Lans

    Raewyn’s primary focus is engagement with the membership including onboarding new members, the provision of information and assistance to members through Member Information Forums and visits and the organisation of ACFID’s National Conference. Raewyn has prior experience in various sectors including government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations. Her last appointment as Operations Manager at Cancer Council NSW saw her responsible for coordinating engagement with communities via ten regional offices throughout NSW.

3 others found this useful.


  • Marc Purcell

    03 Dec, 2018

    On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities I am pleased to see ACFID’s Spotlight on the Code focusing this month on Quality Principle 1 – Rights, Protection and Inclusion. It is particularly relevant given ACFID’s recent conference on Rights, and this provides a fantastic opportunity to focus our minds on how ACFID’s Code of Conduct helps members to achieve their commitments. I encourage others to add their comments and reflections to these blog posts.
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