We envision a world in which young people are not only protected through education, but are also empowered and capable of leading their communities out of conflict and crisis and towards stronger social cohesion, peace and prosperity.
RET International's Vision & ValuesWhat Guides Our Action and Strengthens Our Relationships
These are the ideas and concepts we strive to live by in our day-to-day work with young people, with our donors & partners, as well as amongst ourselves. You will also find in this section the Code of Conduct by which we all abide.
RET’s action takes place in conflict affected areas and fragile environments.
At RET we protect young people through conflict and crises, but we also offer them the tools to become self-reliant individuals, providers for their families as well as actors of positive social change in their communities.
We consider young people, not as beneficiaries, but as partners and future leaders of their communities, whose true potential needs to be brought out.
Ultimately, RET’s goal is to help build a world in which the actions of empowered young people lead their communities out of conflict and crises and towards stronger social cohesion, peace and prosperity.
Dedication, Dynamism, Pragmatism and Adaptability, these four values define the mindset that drives RET’s teams. They describe the way we engage in our daily work with young people, their communities our partners and donors, as well as, amongst ourselves.
RET’s definition of dedication is: “Showing lasting support to a cause, which clearly transcends self-interest and opportunistic behaviour”.
With the Communities
This means that when RET enters a region it is with a solid commitment to mitigate the conflict or crisis affecting local communities, staying as long as is needed to create self-reliance, but not dependency. RET identifies the gaps and designs the bridges, we then help young people and their communities cross them.
With Our Partners & Donors
Dedication here requires us to not only deliver on present projects, but to offer reliable strategic collaboration over the medium term, leading to sustainable, durable solutions.
We are not just co-workers; we are a tight-knit team working towards a common goal. RET team members are considered key stakeholders and assets, professional development is therefore viewed as mandatory.
RET’s definition of dynamism is: “Having the energy and strong desire to make things happen”.
With the Communities
This means that a lot of time and energy is spent in the field going the extra mile to be close to and understand the communities. Interactions with communities are actively sought and maintained to ensure constant feedback, while vulnerable young people are included as actors in the design, implementation and evaluation of our projects.
With Our Partners & Donors
Dynamism here means that we believe we should initiate and maintain communication channels with partners and donors at all stages. RET has the responsibility of proposing solutions even before they are solicited and nurturing solid relations, building a foundation for the future.
We think our doors should always be open, that information has to flow freely and that personal initiatives are to be encouraged.
RET’s definition of pragmatism is: “Favouring reasonable and logical ways of solving problems and challenges, and finding solutions based on the realities on the ground”.
With the Communities
This means positive changes in the lives of the communities is the ultimate measure of RET’s success. We focus on concrete results and if reality in the field contradicts theory, it is our theory that has to be changed.
With Our Partners & Donors
Pragmatism here means we are results oriented, and that we must be able to demonstrate our achievements. Therefore, measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) are mandatory in our projects and their achievement is respected as standard operating practice. Even given the challenges in the fragile contexts in which we operate, we strive to be evidenced-based.
Roles and positions of RET staff depend on abilities and skills.
RET’s definition of adaptability is: “Being dedicated to adopting strategies, tactics, plans, methods, best practices and adapting and refining them in order to obtain better results depending on the specific context on the ground ”.
With the Communities
This means that local culture and existing socio-political infrastructures are what shape project creation, implementation, evaluation and sustainability. Lessons learned from each local context feed our strategies and projects worldwide. Communications and experiences flow bottom-up, top-down, across and around.
With our Partners & Donors
Adaptability here means providing tailored solutions to meet partner and donor objectives, while marrying the needs of the grassroots programme participants. We consider donors and partners as stakeholders with key insights.
As professionals we strive to be well rounded and multitasking in order to be capable of helping other team members and respond to punctual needs. At RET we do not work in silos.
Code of Conduct
1. The Humanitarian imperative comes first. The right to receive humanitarian assistance, and to offer it, is a fundamental humanitarian principle which should be enjoyed by all human beings.
2. The RET will respect the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and non-discrimination in the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance. In humanitarian and development assistance, priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone. We will show respect for all persons equally without distinction whatsoever of age, race, gender, religion, colour, national or ethnic origin, language, marital status, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, disability, political conviction, or any other distinguishing feature. We will strive to remove all barriers to equality.
3. Humanitarian and development assistance shall not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.
4. We will endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy. We therefore formulate our own policies and implementation strategies and do not seek to implement the policy of any government, only exception should it coincide with our own independent policy.
5. We will respect culture and custom. We will endeavour to respect the culture, structures and customs of the communities and countries we are working in.
6. We will always attempt to build response mechanisms to crisis and disasters based on local capacities. Wherever possible, we will strengthen these capacities by employing local staff, purchasing local materials and trading with local companies. Where possible, we will work through local partners in planning and implementation, and co-operate with local government structures where appropriate.
7. Ways shall be found to involve programme beneficiaries in the management of effective humanitarian and development assistance. Effective humanitarian and development assistance and lasting rehabilitation can best be achieved where the intended beneficiaries are involved in the design, management and implementation of the assistance programmes.
8. Humanitarian and development assistance must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to violence, conflict and disaster as well as meeting basic needs.
9. We will hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources. All our dealings with beneficiaries and donors shall reflect an attitude of openness and transparency.
10. In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we will recognise victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless objects.
11. We, the RET, will actively promote adherence to the principles of international refugee law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We will be guided by the core values of the United Nations system, including professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity, and will maintain an international perspective at all times.
12. We will respect the dignity and worth of every individual. Additionally, when working with children and women, we will pay particular attention to the specific challenges they face and possible vulnerabilities. We will promote and practice understanding, respect, compassion, and empathy, and will demonstrate discretion and maintain confidentiality as required. We will aim to build constructive and respectful working relations with our humanitarian partners, will continuously seek to improve our performance, and will foster a climate that encourages learning, supports positive change, and applies the lessons learned from our experience.
13. We will not use language or behaviour that is not appropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative or culturally inappropriate. As an example, when working with children or any vulnerable, marginalised group, ethnicity or race, we will ensure safety and protection from abuse for all involved in the projects. All suspicions and allegations of abuse and poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
14. In addition, in order to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, the following six core principles established by the IASC (Inter-Agency Standing Committee) Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse are incorporated into our Code of Conduct:
– Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers constitute acts of gross misconduct and are, therefore, grounds for termination of employment;
– Any form of sexual activity or acts with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defense;
– Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour is prohibited. This includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.
– Sexual relationships between humanitarian workers and beneficiaries are strongly discouraged since they are based on inherently un-equal power dynamics. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work.
– Where a humanitarian worker develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual abuse or exploitation by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, s/he must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms (see RET’s PSEA Action Plan).
– Humanitarian workers are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents sexual exploitation and abuse and promotes the implementation of their code of conduct. Managers at all levels have particular responsibilities to support and develop systems which maintain this environment.
15. Moreover, anyone who works for or on behalf of the RET shall make sure to remain polite, friendly and to respect the personality of the persons they work with and refrain from any kind of moral harassment. Shall be considered as moral harassment any behaviour that may be damaging to the personality of a colleague, a superior, a subordinate or beneficiaries, as well as any kind of “mobbing”. The term “mobbing” designates any series of hostile behaviours or allegations, frequently repeated during a period of time, by which one would manage to isolate or exclude a person from his/her place of work. Moral harassment may lead to the termination of the harasser’s labour contract.
Facts & FiguresWhat has been RET International's impact so far?
We have been active in humanitarian action and transitional development for over 15 years, during this time our mandate has gained traction and our impact, as well as the resources entrusted to us, have grown accordingly. Here are a few facts & figures to illustrate this trend.
During these 15 years of commitment to vulnerable young people, RET International has worked in 28 countries affected by conflict and crises and fragile environments. You may visit our Where We Work section to learn about our past and present countries of operations. As an international organisation we also pay an awareness-raising and advocacy role through representations in Switzerland, Japan and Germany.
This extensive presence in the field has enabled us to positively impact the lives of just over 1.2 million learners, 51% of which are women. Among them 12’500 youth leaders have been trained and 150 tertiary education scholarships managed, paving the way to more peaceful and stable communities by empowering a generation of young people to become actors of positive social change. Our actions have also led to the construction, renovation or equipment of 1’100 schools, the training of 20’000 educators as well as the capacity building of numerous local and even national education administrations. In all, RET International has reached nearly 6 million indirect beneficiaries.
Finally, our impact is amplified through the fact that RET does not follow traditional models of sending large numbers of foreign experts to manage local problems. While we have staff from approximately 40 countries, nearly all are local. That is to say almost 100% of our staff in each country of operations are citizens of that country or eventually of neighbouring countries, with only very few expats operating regionally or from headquarters. Furthermore, our global presence benefits local professionals through best practices and lessons learned, as well as, through the training and capacity building of local staff that ensures the sustainability of the programmes. RET connects local experience with global expertise. As we are approximately 1300 team members working throughout the world, our impact on local employment and professional development is an added value to our programmes.
In total, RET has raised and channelled over 150 million USD from the international community towards vulnerable young people.
We presently work in three main regions, which are the Silk Route, Latin America & the Caribbean and East and Central Africa. The chart below shows the resources directed to each of these different regions in fiscal year (01 October – 31 September) 2016:
Our resources come from three main categories of donors: governments, international organisations and the private sector (foundations and individuals). The chart below shows the proportion coming form each source in 2016:
When RET was created in 2000, the world’s focus was on children and not youth; RET has been growing as our mandate has caught traction among the international community and youth are more and more recognised as a key underserved population. In this growth, we have strived to keep our indirect costs (also referred to as administrative expenses) at a minimum. This graph below makes this progression in resources and control of indirect costs easy to visualise:
Should you wish to request a copy of our latest complete financial statements, do not hesitate to write to our Communications Manager, Marc Hari: m.hari@theRET.org.
RET’s Legal Structure
RET International, our parent organisation, is registered as a foundation under Swiss law (all legal details can be publicly accessed on the Register of companies, firms or associations of the City of Geneva, Switzerland) and is placed under the authority of the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations in Berne, Switzerland.
In order to simplify relations and collaboration with key donor governments, independent, but affiliated non-profit organisations were created under RET International’s umbrella.
There exists, therefore, RET Japan in Tokyo, RET Germany in Bonn and Berlin and RET USA in Washington. These organisations and their representatives work with the same mandate and institutional identities as RET International, but offer more proximity with partner governments and better integrated administrative statutes. They report to RET International’s CEO for strategy and operations, who in turn reports to RET International’s Foundation Board.
In our countries of operations, we work through local branches of RET International duly registered with each government. In some countries such as Lebanon, RET is a local non-governmental organisation and not a branch of RET International.