November 23, 2009
Following is an update on Joint Council’s advocacy efforts in Ethiopia including our October trip. As always, our advocacy efforts, including our recent trip, serve to advance every child’s right to a permanent and safe family.
Standards of Practice During separate meetings, Joint Council presented the Standards of Practice for Non-Governmental Organizations with Respect to Permanency Services in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – Second Edition to the:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Minister of Women’s Affairs
- Ministry of Foreign Affair, Consular Section
- Ministry of Foreign Affair, Women’s Empowerment Sections,
- Ministry of Justice Charities and Societies Division
- Network of Adoption Service Providers
- French Consular Officer
- Australian Consular Office
- U.S. Consular Office
The Standards were well received by all. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, the U.S. Consular office and French Consular office were particularly interested in the Standards, including those adoption service providers choosing to be a signatory to the Standards. We extend our congratulations to those adoption service providers choosing to elevate their services to families and children via the Joint Council Standards.
Joint Council and the French Consular Office discussed opportunities for collaboration on the Standards and training programs for local government officials and service providers. The French initiated these programs including staff dedicated solely to permanency programs and a $120,000 USD budget.
Joint Council extends its appreciation to the Governments of Australia, Ethiopia, France, and United States for the time, courtesy, support, and collaboration demonstrated as we collectively seek to protect the right of every child to a safe and permanent family.
Review and Assessment
As part of our ongoing advocacy and at the request of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joint Council is formally providing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and Ministry of Justice with information related to those adoption service providers licensed by the Government of Ethiopia. This information includes the status of each adoption service provider as Hague accredited, denied or non-accredited. Additionally, the status of each adoption service provider as a signatory or non-signatory to the Joint Council Standards. Identical information has also been provided to the U.S. Department of State.
Joint Council participated in meetings with numerous adoption service providers, most being Joint Council Member Organizations and a number of non-Member organizations. Consular officers from the U.S. Department of State participated in some of these site visits including programs dedicated to aid and development. Such site visits by government officials helps to elevate the understanding of the growing role adoption service providers play in services dedicated to permanency, aid, and development.
Given Joint Council’s policies and the sensitivities related to our ongoing assessment of intercountry adoption services in Ethiopia, including programs of the French, Australian and other governments, we are choosing to refrain from detailing the service providers with whom we met. While the review is ongoing, and complex, it should be noted that to date, the Joint Council Grievance Procedure has not been initiated for any Member Organization. Joint Council will continue its review and to adhere to our detailed and publicly available Grievance Procedure.
While some have questioned Joint Council as to why findings of the review have not been published,
it remains Joint Council’s policy to publish information only when it is appropriate and incompliance with Joint Council internal policies and procedures and in alignment with our Mission. Our ongoing goal is not related to a specific date. The goal is to remain true to our Mission and protect the rights of families and children. As always, information that serves these goals and is compliant with our policies will be published and made available to Joint Council Member Organizations, adoptive families and the public.
Joint Council extends its appreciation to those Joint Council Members who assisted in our advocacy trip, including site visits. We are pleased that to date, all Joint Council Members have eagerly and transparently provided their assistance.