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Develop Standard Operating Procedures

Last edited: March 07, 2019

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Standard operating procedures (SOPs) consist of a formal document outlining specific procedures and agreements among organisations participating in a coordinated response.  They are designed to facilitate consistent joint action in relation to violence against women.  The content should reflect the action plan and the roles and responsibilities of the individual organisations involved (Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2010), and essentially describe how to ‘operationalise’ coordination of the response.  SOPs are usually drawn up using a collaborative consultative process involving all partners. Although time-consuming, this is important to ensure consensus and shared ownership.

The specific undertakings elaborated in the SOPs will vary according to what the precise focus and functions of the coordinated response are.  In general terms, though, SOPs should include:

  • A description of the purpose and scope of the SOP;
  • Which groups and settings the SOP relates to;
  • Definitions and explanations of key terms and concepts;
  • Guiding principles;
  • Responsibilities for victim/survivor assistance;
  • Reporting and referral mechanisms;
  • Responsibilities for criminal proceedings (if applicable);
  • Responsibilities for perpetrator interventions (if applicable);
  • Principles and mechanisms for documentation and information sharing;
  • Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms;
  • Coordination mechanisms for agencies involved; and
  • Key protocols or forms should be included in the SOPs as Annexes.

How to develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

  • Convene a small group of multi-sectoral stakeholders to develop an initial draft and manage the overall process.
  • Set a timeline and parameters for the SOP development process, including who should be consulted and over what timescale.
  • Develop an initial draft SOP.
  • Present/distribute the draft to wider group of actors involved in coordinated response for consultation and discussion.
  • Conduct a series of carefully managed but inclusive meetings to go through the draft SOP section by section to reach consensus.
  • Revise the SOP after each meeting to reflect agreements reached until the draft is finalised.
  • Mark completion of the process by inviting key actors and stakeholders to a meeting or other event where key actors will sign the document on behalf of their agency/organisation to indicate their commitment.
  • Disseminate copies of the SOPs and information about them to all actors involved in the coordinated response.

Adapted from Inter-Agency Standing Committee Sub-Working Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action (2008) Establishing Gender-Based Violence Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Multi-Sectoral and Inter-Organisational Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings, available in English.

 

Tools for developing SOPs in specific contexts

Establishing Gender-Based Violence Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Multi-Sectoral and Inter-Organisational Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings (Inter-Agency Standing Committee Sub-Working Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action, 2008).  This guide provides information on how to develop SOPs on preventing and responding to violence against women in humanitarian settings and includes details of a multi-sectoral process for developing them, as well as a template SOP that can be used and adapted according to the requirements of local settings.  Available in English.

Standard Operating Procedures for Treatment of Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings (Government of the Republic of Macedonia, 2010).  This document contains SOPs for responding to victims of trafficking in Macedonia within an institutionalised cooperation framework.  Available in English.

Standard Operating Procedures for Prevention of and Response to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (UNHCR, 2012) Nairobi: UNHCR, 1st Revision.  This document outlines agreements between national organisations, including the government, and international organisations in Kenya.  It contains sections on the responsibilities of different sectors in relation to: prevention and response, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation. Available in English.