AKN partners and team members share insights – based on experience – about how safeguarding can be enhanced in international development. A report and series of case studies offer multiple perspectives.

Power, dignity and voice

Enhancing safeguarding in efforts to address modern slavery

by Linnea Renton and Leona Vaughn


Selected Findings

This report, written by the Safeguarding Research Fellows Linnea Renton and Leona Vaughn, focuses on the Antislavery Knowledge Network project Enhancing Safeguarding in Efforts to Address Modern Slavery through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This work explored and assessed local safeguarding practice and methods in existing AKN projects. Through a range of creative approaches, AKN staff and partners have critiqued and expanded concepts of power, dignity and voice that are central to understandings of safeguarding within the context of research in the antislavery and anti-trafficking field.

Our aim is to gain insights into safeguarding in anti-slavery work in Sub-Saharan Africa: that can be utilised to create a safe and trusted environment for researchers, participants and communities; that can enable research organisations to reflect on how their work has direct impacts in society; and that can improve understanding and communication of policy for safeguarding.

Selected Findings

  • Ensure that risk, harm and vulnerability are locally defined and the responses are locally led, owned and sustained.
  • Global North researchers and institutions have to be ready and willing to give up some of their power to enable effective safeguarding in work with Global South partners.
  • Sound safeguarding policy and practice pivots round four fundamental principles: rights of survivors/victims and whistle-blowers; equity and fairness; transparency; accountability and good governance.

Safeguarding Complexities

Case Study: Willis Okumu

Complexities of Safeguarding provides insight based on research into experiences of human trafficking in Western Kenya. Issues explored include: the roles that lack of awareness about human trafficking and related laws play in the vulnerability of victims, abuse of the trafficked by security officers at international borders, the role of kin-networks in local-level trafficking.

Exploring Safeguarding

Case Study: Nii Kwartelai Quartey

Exploring Safeguarding in James Town Accra provides reflections on issues including: the ways in which arts-based approaches help in the democratization and demystification of research among vulnerable participants, and the importance of ‘locals’ or ‘insiders’ in facilitating culturally-sensitive safeguarding for participants.

Safeguarding Child Soldiers

Case Study: Geoffrey Omony & Jassi Sandhar

Safeguarding Former Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda offers insights based on focus group discussions with 33 former child soldiers and other community stakeholders. Issues addressed include: benefits for research participants, data protection and confidentiality, doing no harm, and the extractive nature of research.