Objective 2.1

Accountable Humanitarian Coordination Leaders

  • All HCs are supported by HCTs or HCT-type bodies, which are inclusive, effective and strategic decision-making forums.
  • The HC Pool, established and managed by OCHA on behalf of the IASC, was expanded. At the end of 2011, it included 39 members from 14 different UN agencies and NGOs.
  • OCHA designed theHC Mentoring Programme to provide tailored and real-time support to incoming HCs. It was piloted successfully in 2011 and will be expanded in 2012 based on the positive feedback received.

In 2010, the humanitarian community faced significant criticism for its response to the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods. Much of the criticism focused on the perceived delays in establishing humanitarian leadership to oversee the response to respective crises.

Therefore, OCHA took significant steps in 2011 to strengthen the selection process for HCs and to provide more support for individuals chosen as HCs.This included persuading UN agencies and NGOs to nominate their best candidates for HC positions, as well as developing more responsive operational support mechanisms and more intensive capacity-building for humanitarian leaders.

Humanitarian partners have been perceived as being reluctant to put forward their best candidates for HC posts, concerned about the impact of losing key individuals. However, in 2011 this position appeared to soften. Partners realized that appointing strong HCs is an investment for the entire humanitarian system. As a result, the range, profile and caliber of candidates in the HC Pool improved. This enabled the rapid deployment of highlyqualified and respected candidates to high-profile crisis areas (e.g. Libya) and the deployment of candidates from outside the UN system to countries such asChad.

The HC appointment process was also tightened. The new HC Panel enables IASC members to consult and agree on candidates. The Inter-Agency Advisory Panel, which had little previous role in the process, now puts forward candidates. After consultations between the UNDG Chair and the ERC, the UNDG Chair makes a final recommendation to the Secretary-General.

OCHA’s HC Mentoring Programme, the first of its kind, offers comprehensive training and on-the-job support to HCs. OCHA has also arranged orientation and briefing sessions for HCs and RCs, while providing additional guidance on effective leadership in emergencies and the use of legal frameworks in humanitarian action. 

At their request, HCs now have the Director of OCHA’s Coordination and Response Division (CRD) as their immediate point of contact within OCHA regarding operational matters. A CRD-created dedicated HC Support Unit will ensure monthly telephone conversations between the CRD Director and HCs, and monitor follow-up.

OCHA has also acknowledged the need to clarify and improve the role of HCTs, which are sometimes criticized as acting more as information-sharing forums than strategic, decision-making bodies. OCHA management carried out extensive field missions to look at HCTs at work and make recommendations.

Building on lessons learned from the Cluster 2 Evaluation (C2E), OCHA stepped up coordination with national authorities and inter-cluster coordination. By the end of 2011, there were several good-practice examples, including the cholera response Haiti, which successfully brought together national authorities and the health and WASH clusters.

OCHA also reviewed its performance, with technical staff visiting several key country offices, including Haiti, Afghanistan and Somalia, to assess coordination challenges and see where OCHA could work more effectively, particularly in inter-cluster coordination.

Performance Framework 2011
OUTPUT System-wide accountability of humanitarian actors clarified and codified.

Submission of mutual accountability framework to the IASC by Q4.


In the IASC Transformative Agenda, IASC Principals committed to 360-degree accountability for HCTs and HCs.

OUTPUT Key IASC operational guidance finalized.

IASC Task Team priority guidance completed, including national authorities, inter-cluster, transition, pooled fund and integrated missions by end of Q2.


The IASC Transformative Agenda, adopted on 13 December 2011, outlines key steps to be taken in streamlining and enhancing the cluster system. The Transformative Agenda encompasses the spirit of the C2E recommendations and will be operationalized in 2012.

OUTPUT Performance monitoring of in-country coordination system improved.

One-hundred per cent of OCHA country offices monitored through internal reviews.


OCHA management undertook missions to all 22 country offices to review field performance and effectiveness. HCSS visited nine country offices (Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, DRC, Kenya, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan).


One-hundred per cent of HCs engaged in a comprehensive performance-management process.


Only seven HC Compacts were signed in 2011. However, a process was initiated early to develop the 2012 Compacts.

OUTPUT The IASC HC Pool reaches optimal size and is effectively utilized.

Ten new applicants recruited into the HC Pool.


Six new members in 2011. Since the HC Pool Manager position was vacant in the second half of 2011, no application round was conducted in Q3 2011.


Seventy-five per cent of vacant humanitarian coordination leadership positions have at least one HC Pool member proposed.


One-hundred per cent (7/7) of vacant humanitarian coordination leadership positions had at least one HC Pool member proposed.