The Accountability Lab works in a variety of countries where the context can shift rapidly in ways that can threaten the safety and security of our teams. We have a duty of care which we define as both the proactive and responsive actions we take to provide for the physical, emotional, digital and legal security of every Accountability Lab team member around the world. Both proactive and reactive security protocols require significant financial investment. With this in mind we have created a standing Safety and Security Fund of $15,000 which can be made immediately available in emergencies to ensure that we can provide the care that our teams need.
Due to the work that we do and the countries where we are engaged, the Accountability Lab’s staff, assets and other resources face significant risks. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Physical security: Our work puts both our staff and physical resources at risk due to the complex socio-political contexts of the countries where we work. In addition to this, the threat of natural disasters or health pandemics and our ability to mitigate the challenges that come with such disasters in a quick and efficient manner adds to the physical risks.
- Emotional Security: Similar to the physical security risks staff members may face, their work also leaves them vulnerable to potential emotional security risks.
- Digital Security: Our work in different geographical locations is made possible through virtual engagement and the use of cloud technology. This leaves our research, intellectual property and other digital assets open to security threats.
- Health, Disability and Death While Traveling: The Accountability Lab’s staff members are frequently required to travel for work. As such, we have plan for eventualities related to their health while abroad. These risks expand into potential disability as well as death. While AL maintains insurance for this purpose, emergency funding may be used assist in the short term, while waiting for insurance claims to be processed.
The Lab employs a variety of physical and procedural techniques designed to mitigate or prevent these threats, including comprehensive security plans, check-ins with staff, training, recovery plans, and legal support. Where these threats cannot be mitigated, the Safety and Security Fund can be deployed, according to parameters agreed internally. These include 5 levels of safety and security and outline, for each level, the activities the fund may be able to support; the type of support (one- time need or short-term assistance; the use requests; and fund refill guidelines.
The Fund is held in a standing high-interest account and can be accessed at any time as the rules permit. There are also defined “refill” parameters designed to utilize earned revenue and general operating funds to ensure that the fund is replenished after every $1,000 of use. The fund seeks to grow by 10% each fiscal year and by an additional 5% with the addition of any new country office. One percent of general operating grants should be deposited in the security fund, dependent on cash flow health, to ensure fund growth that is proportional to overall organizational growth. All decisions regarding the use of money from the Safety and Security Fund are made by the Executive Director, the Strategy and Operations Manager and the relevant Country Director.
** This framework is based on a similar framework developed by the Global Press Institute- we are grateful to the GPI team for their wisdom and support.