Cooperation Canada Statement on Allegations Concerning WE Charity Operations in Kenya

October 19, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Over the past six months, Canada’s international cooperation sector has watched with concern the evolving media coverage and investigations regarding the WE Charity and its related organizations. As a sector, we have refrained from any statements that might interfere with ongoing investigations into a charity whose internal operations remain unknown to most  

We have taken this time to interrogate ourselves and each other regarding the multiple impacts of power asymmetries, reflect upon potential improvements of our governance and partnership models and engage in a transparent and a forward-looking dialogue with the Canadian political establishment and the public. Cooperation Canada’s Code of Ethics, which counts over 90 signatory organizationsis a key resource guiding conversations about accountability and the normative foundations of our sector. Through this Code of Ethics, Cooperation Canada members commit publicly to core principles including organizational transparency, accountability and integrityThey commit to prevent and avoid conflicts of interest, comply with local laws and manage funds both appropriately and accountably. 

Cooperation Canada is also coordinating the Canadian Centre of Expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and AbuseDigna, and working on setting up structures for a collective anti-racist agenda. We are also facilitating strategic discussions about ways of improving the sustainability and the ownership of international cooperation initiatives and improving outdated national legislation, dating back to the 1950s, which regulates charitable sector accountability.  

“Recent stories regarding WE Charity and affiliated organizations’ operations in Kenya are deeply concerning and are in no way representative of how experienced international development and humanitarian organizations operate” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO of Cooperation Canada.

The many stories swirling around the WE organizations also highlight the importance of transparent structures and practices of civil society organizations, and the value of sector-wide frameworks and communities of practice to advance best practice in accountability and governance. 

WE Charity has, for the most part, remained outside of collective Canadian international cooperation sector platforms. The Charity is not among the ninety-one members of Cooperation Canada, has not signed the aforementioned Code of Ethics, and is the only large Canadian self-described international development organization which is not a part of any of the national coordination and consultative groups of the sector. The charity is also not a part of our joint commitments, advocacy campaigns, policy monitoring groups, or accountability frameworks. Without these interactions that allow for sharing of good practices and transparent communication, we are unable to fully understand operational processes of the WE organizationsYet stories swirling around these organizations are having a real impact on public trust for others who work globally for a better, fairer and more equitable world. 

International cooperation organizations operate in different environments around the world, often in complex and difficult circumstances, promoting goals of improved global health, human rights, gender equality, education, refugee protection, food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and many others. Regardless of their respective program prioritiesall of our members would agree that our key shared institutional capital is public trust. Without trust, we are unable to do our critical work, to form equitable partnerships, engage with communities, governments and private sector actors, or mobilize resources towards international assistance. To protect this trust, our organizations consistently err on the side of caution to avoid unnecessarily complex financial structures and both real and perceived situations of conflicts of interest. Ensuring transparency of our efforts and nurturing trust-based relationships has been and remains a top sector priority.  

As a part of accountability measures, organizations in the international cooperation sector are subject to the regulations of the Canada Revenue Agency and regulatory authorities in all jurisdictions where they operate, to reporting requirements of donor agencies, such as Global Affairs Canada, as well as those of the federations and networks to which many belong. These mechanisms are backed by complaint mechanisms and audit processes to which organizations are subject. 

While private sector engagement remains an important part of community development workcollaborations with private sector organizations must support charitable purposesCharitable organizations cannot serve to support private enterprise objectives and careful legislative and regulatory mechanisms are in place to ensure this 

Cooperation Canada takes seriously any allegations of unethical practices within our sector and condemns any violations of the public trust and international or national legislation on charitable activities. We will continue to support sector-wide coordination around ethical practices and governance structures, offer platforms for sharing of good practices in this area, and support our members in engaging in equitable and transparent dialogues with sector stakeholders, national and international partners, the communities we strive to serve, and the Canadian public.  

Cooperation Canada invites all Canadian organizations working in international development and humanitarian assistance to join us and their peers in advancing shared objectives and best practice as we all seek to work for a better world that is fair and inclusive for all.   

Media Inquiries
Kat Guerin
Manager, Communications
Cooperation Canada
kguerin@cooperation.ca | 613-222-3009 

The call for nominations for Cooperation Canada awards is now open

The call for nominations for Cooperation Canada awards is now open

The call for nominations is now open for The Karen Takacs Award for Women’s Leadership in International Development and the Innovation and Impact Awards for 2020.

The Karen Takacs Award is presented annually to an individual who has notably, by virtue of working collaboratively, made a difference in the lives of women globally. The award honours outstanding collaborative leadership and commitment to promoting women’s equality.

Cooperation Canada and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, jointly present the Innovation and Impact Awards, which recognize Canadian individuals and civil society organizations that are doing impactful and innovative work.

Learn more about the awards:

 

Nominations will be accepted until end of day, November 13.

Pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2021 budget

Pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2021 budget

CCIC has submitted the pre-budget consultation submission alongside the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and the Canadian Coalition for Climate Change and Development (C4D). Many thanks to all who provided insight throughout the drafting process. Please see the final version here
CCIC Reacts to Canada’s Loss in the UN Security Council Seat Vote

CCIC Reacts to Canada’s Loss in the UN Security Council Seat Vote

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation regrets that Canada was unsuccessful in its bid to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in a vote concluded on June 17. Canada was in competition with Ireland and Norway to win one of the two available seats in the Western European and Others Group of states (WEOG). Ireland and Norway were successful in winning the UNSC seats.

Regardless of this outcome, Canada’s campaign tagline that we are “stronger together” remains equally valid today and there is much more for Canada to do to stand in solidarity with international partners in a time of great uncertainty and challenge to global progress. Even without a UN Security Council seat, Canada can lead global momentum on the key priorities outlined in its campaign: sustaining peace; addressing climate change; advancing gender equality; promoting economic security; and strengthening multilateralism. This is in both Canada’s interest and the interest of all our global partners. To make contributions that match its ambitions, Canada will be required to deploy and expand the many foreign policy tools at its disposal to tackle ever growing international threats to human rights, democracy and inclusive economic growth. Such efforts will also need to be accompanied by ambitious global investments, including in international development assistance.

“We are disappointed by today’s results but are unshaken in the belief that Canada must play a leading role in the world,” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO of CCIC. “This is a moment to take stock and commit to our global partners that we will work with them in the long term. With increased ambitions and investments, Canada can play a critical role in the global efforts to recover better from the COVID pandemic.”

Often judged a key consideration in UN votes for the UNSC, Canada’s international development assistance as a share of our economy consistently lags the average commitment to development of OECD members (0.31% of GNI). Canada’s two competitor countries, Ireland and Norwayhave both either surpassed or committed to reaching the globally agreed ODA target of 0.7% of GNI.    

Particularly in the context of global crises and rapid global change, there is a need now more than ever, for Canada to play an active role in shaping an inclusive and successful global recovery from the COVID pandemic. Canada’s defeat is no reason for Canada to turn away from its role on the global stage. Quite the contrary, it is time for it to show the leadership – in words and deed – that our global partners need.

“Global needs have grown exponentially in the context of COVID-19, with the gendered impacts of the pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused, there is a need more than ever for Canada to invest in improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable around the world,” said Moyer.

How KAIROS’ Partners are Responding to the Double Pandemic

How KAIROS’ Partners are Responding to the Double Pandemic

Through its Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security program, KAIROS has been working very closely with partners to learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on their work and their responses to these challenges. As women peacebuilders in protracted conflicts, these partners are no strangers to crises and, as such, have modeled resilient, creative and courageous approaches that serve as excellent examples for us all.

In addition to dealing with public health concerns and measures, partners are also responding to what has been termed the “shadow pandemic” or the “double pandemic,” terms that refer to the substantial increase in gender-based and domestic violence that has resulted from the pandemic and associated lockdowns. The pandemic is having this effect all over the world, including in Canada where gender-based violence and domestic abuse rates are increasing by an estimated 20 and 30 per cent in parts of the country. However, countries with militaristic responses to the crisis and autocratic and repressive governance styles have only exacerbated violence and the need for psychosocial and legal support for women in all parts of the world.

Despite the challenges posed by physical distancing requirements, KAIROS’ partners have responded to the crisis to support women experiencing violence in their communities. The Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Colombia, for example, has used social media to form online support groups for women. They are providing psychosocial services online and via phone to provide much-needed support to women who are facing gender-based violence or domestic abuse. Similarly, Wi’am: Palestinian Centre for Conflict Transformation in the West Bank is responding to the increase in gender-based violence with conflict mediation and transformation initiatives. The Centre also plans to hire two psychologists and has set up a 24-hour hotline to provide frontline support to women and others experiencing gender-based violence.

KAIROS’ partners have also been adapting workshops and training for women leaders to respond to COVID-19 in their communities. This training includes equipping leaders with tools and resources to respond to the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic and the increase in gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence and domestic violence were a global pandemic long before COVID-19. However, around the world, the protective measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 are putting women at an increased risk. KAIROS’ partners have been on the frontline of the response in their communities to ensure that while public health measures are followed, those who are the most at risk have the support they need as they seek to protect themselves and their families from the double pandemic.

Héritiers de la Justice in Democratic Republic of Congo is continuing with the production and hosting of the local weekly radio program “Tuitete Haki,” Swahili for rights, pivoting to address the COVID-19 pandemic public health directives and raise awareness about gender-based violence. The South Sudan Council of Churches’ radio talk shows discuss COVID-19, gender justice, trauma healing as well as peace messaging.

As COVID-19 completely transforms the world, we cannot lose sight of the world’s most vulnerable. Women peacebuilders are leading a feminist response that addresses the disproportionate impacts of this global crisis on women and girls and brings this pandemic of violence out of the shadows. We have much to learn from them. Their strong networks and relations with women community leaders and groups, as well as their experience in psychosocial support and trauma healing, allow them to reach marginalized women and ensure their voices and concerns are heard even in the context of the COVID-19 storm.

Women peacebuilders provide us with a glimmer of hope – a way forward when the world emerges from this crisis, one that is based on the wellbeing, health, safely and peace for all.

To read more about KAIROS’ partners’ response you can read their blog here.

Photo: South Sudan Council of Churches meets with women and youth to raise awareness about gender-based violence, domestic violence and teen pregnancies during COVID-19 lockdown.