The UK’s approach to safeguarding in the humanitarian sector

A review examining the UK’s approach to safeguarding in the humanitarian sector finds the government needs to do more to learn from people affected by humanitarian crises.

Score: Amber/Red
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 24 February 2022
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Democracy, governance and human rights, Humanitarian assistance, Peace, security and justice, Women and girls
  5. Assessment: Amber/Red
  6. Location: Bangladesh, Uganda, Yemen
  7. Lead commissioner: Sir Hugh Bayley
  8. SDGs covered:Reduced inequalities, Peace, justice and strong institutions, Gender equality

Latest news

We conducted a full review of the UK’s approach to safeguarding in the humanitarian sector and made five recommendations. We have completed our follow-up process and rated the government’s response to our recommendations as ‘adequate’. Find out more on the ‘Further scrutiny‘ tab.


Safeguarding at-risk adults and children from physical and emotional abuse, exploitation and neglect across a multiplicity of industries and social sectors has become a matter of acute concern to policy makers and the public. In recent years, within the aid sector, the UK government’s attention has focused on safeguarding against sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment.

This review focuses on the humanitarian aid sector and examines the extent to which the UK government’s safeguarding efforts have been effective in preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of affected populations, perpetrated by aid workers operating in humanitarian aid contexts. The review considers how well the UK government has identified and addressed evidence gaps about best practice for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) and how well it has developed a coherent response to the issue.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality



Published 2 July 2021

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 24 February 2022

Government response

Published 7 April 2022

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 28 June 2022

Further scrutiny

Published 18 July 2023