Code of Conduct for Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence


Our Code of Conduct seeks to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of Cuso International and our volunteers, interns, staff, managers, board members and subcontractors.

It underscores our shared commitment to preventing sexual violence in our organization and our programs by defining a framework for the way we carry out our work and to set out our expectations. We recognize that to be effective the Code of Conduct must translate into actions. Identifying gaps between policies and practices and working to close them are paramount.


Cuso International is a signatory to Cooperation Canada’s Leaders’ Pledge, and has notably committed to:

  • Establishing a culture of zero tolerance of sexual misconduct in all the work that we do,
  • Improving our collective ability to recognize and tackle power imbalances and gender inequalities that can enable sexual misconduct,
  • Aiming to create work environments free from sexual misconduct within our organization,
  • Benefiting from each other‚Äôs experiences and strengths, identifying joint solutions, and by sharing and building knowledge and capacity around survivor/victim centred approaches.


Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) - Policy Statement and Framework

Cuso International seeks to maintain standards of conduct in the workplace to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in the first instance, and to respond to and manage any complaints/allegations in a prompt, professional, fair and respectful manner. Cuso International seeks to be transparent about any Sexual Exploitation or Abuse (SEA) issues the organization may face, while remaining sensitive to how we communicate such issues and open to continuous learning and improvement.

We take a survivor-centered approach to incidences of sexual violence so that anyone who directly experiences sexual violence is supported and treated with compassion and dignity.  We also operate with a zero-tolerance approach, meaning that inaction towards SEA is unacceptable. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against anyone having committed SEA, following an investigation process. Violations of our PSEA Policy or Code of Conduct can be grounds for dismissal. Staff, volunteers and partners may report incidents directly to Cuso’s Safety and Security Manager or through Cuso International’s Third-Party Confidential Reporting Platform.


Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct

Cuso International recognizes its fundamental duty of care towards children who come into contact with our organization, and we acknowledge our responsibilities to keep children safe while engaged in our programming. We are committed to furthering the rights of children throughout the world and we oppose all forms of discrimination and abuse towards children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This policy is designed to ensure that Cuso International takes every possible measure to prevent abuse towards children affiliated with the organization, and to ensure that none of its employees, consultants, volunteers, or Board members (here after called Cuso International representatives) engages in behaviour that may allow abuse to occur, or behaviour that could be misinterpreted by children, their families, or other adults as constituting, or leading to, abuse.


Values and Principles that Guide this Policy:

  • The best interests of the child are primary,
  • All children have the right to be safe in all settings and locations,
  • Children are vulnerable, although some children may be more vulnerable than others, and
  • Violence against children is never acceptable.


Prevention of Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Program

As an employer, Cuso International has a responsibility to provide a working environment that is free from harassment and discrimination, to be aware of what is happening in the workplace, and to deal effectively, quickly and fairly with any situations involving claims of harassment or discrimination, in order to ensure that harassment or discrimination ceases. Cuso International ensures that each employee and volunteer receives a copy of the Prevention of Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Program upon commencing work with Cuso International. Training regarding workplace harassment is also an integral part of employee/volunteer training.


Workplace Violence Prevention Policy and Program

Cuso International recognizes the potential for workplace violence and is committed to working with its employees and volunteers to provide a safe workplace. Any threat or act of violence committed by or against an employee or a volunteer is unacceptable conduct that will not be tolerated. Cuso International will take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent and protect employees and volunteers from acts of violence. Cuso International will assess the workplace for violence on an ongoing basis and identify factors that contribute to workplace violence.

The provisions of this Policy and Program are designed to protect all Cuso International employees and volunteers, and apply to situations in all Cuso International workplaces as well as in work‚Äźrelated situations outside the workplace such as business travel, off‚Äźsite meeting and other events.


Whistleblowing Policy

Cuso International’s Whistleblowing Policy is a global policy to encourage current and former employees, volunteers, partner organizations, donors, Board members or any person associated with Cuso International to communicate events of serious concern about the organization. This policy supports the organization’s goals of legal compliance, ethical behaviour and the maintenance of its reputation. Reports under this policy may be made through Cuso International’s Third-Party Confidential Reporting Platform or to Chief Executive Officer. In the event that it is appropriate in the circumstances to do so, the individual may report the incident to the Board Chair.


Complaints Policy and Procedure

This policy and procedure applies to complaints regarding Cuso International activities, programs, services, staff or volunteers. A complaint may be received verbally, by phone or in person, in writing by mail, email or fax.  This may include perceived failure to do something agreed upon; failure to observe policy or procedures; errors made by a staff member/volunteer; or unfair or discourteous actions/statements by a staff member/volunteer.  Anyone person directly affected can complain and their complaint will be reviewed in accordance with this procedure. A summary of the complaints received are reported to the Cuso International Board of Directors annually.