- An enhanced leadership accountability mechanism for HCs was established. This was in line with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Transformative Agenda (ITA). UN and NGO partners now formally provide input to the appraisal of HCs through the IASC HC Panel. A system is developing for more regular support to help HCs fulfil their challenging role.
- In line with ITA recommendations, IASC guidance that addresses key policy gaps, supports humanitarian leaders and allows for improved coordination mechanisms has been developed and disseminated.
- The Inter-Agency Rapid Response Mechanism (IARRM) was established. It deploys senior staff from across the IASC system who reinforce coordination structures in a sudden-onset crisis.
- A pool of high-caliber, senior (D-2 and above) HCs was established.
Year In Review
The ITA, adopted by the IASC at the end of December 2011, provided new impetus for strengthening humanitarian coordination leadership. It provided an enabling environment for OCHA to maintain momentum against its five target results to establish effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders. OCHA has sought to ensure that humanitarian leaders as individuals have appropriate skills, knowledge and experience for their roles; that it provides adequate management and operational support to these leaders at global and country levels; and that the institutional framework they operate in is also addressed, tackling unresolved policy issues and mitigating the institutional hindrances relating to the place they occupy in the IASC and United Nations system that influence their effectiveness. OCHA also sought to strengthen the overall inter-agency commitment to coordination structures, mechanisms and systems.
On behalf of the IASC, OCHA helped to strengthen the humanitarian coordination leadership function by ensuring that HCs can perform their tasks effectively. To achieve this at the individual and institutional level in 2012, OCHA has:
- Promoted dialogue and built consensus among humanitarian partners on key normative issues relating to humanitarian coordination leadership.
- Expanded the pool of potential HCs through the HC Pool from 39 to 62 members, and created a separate 18-member HC Pool for Level 3 emergencies.
- Established a constituency of support among IASC agencies for qualified candidates for HC and Resident Coordinator (RC) positions.
- Improved the leadership, coordination and team-development skills of senior humanitarian officials through workshops, training, individualized learning programmes and annual retreats.
Concurrently, OCHA strengthened its support and management of humanitarian leaders. An enhanced performance framework, including the agreement and signature of ERC-HC Compacts for 97 per cent of incumbent HCs in 2012, has brought greater clarity on HCs’ roles and expectations, and on related commitments for OCHA support. At the same time, the performance-appraisal process has been significantly revised and is now more inclusive. As of June 2012, the process allows all parts of the humanitarian community to incorporate feedback on the performance of individual humanitarian leaders. Balancing the more rigorous appraisal process, more systematic contact and clear channels of communication and support have been established between the ERC and her managers and humanitarian leaders. This enhanced OCHA’s ability to address leaders’ concerns and support them in addressing operational constraints in real time. The establishment of the IASC Emergency Directors Forum in December 2012 to review key country operations has initiated healthy dialogue and fostered inter-agency commitment to address institutional and operational constraints at country level. It ensures greater synergy and coherence between the efforts to support leadership and an effective humanitarian response.
In the past, humanitarian coordination leaders have been hindered by unresolved policy issues around the extent of their role and on the form and function of the coordination architecture within which they work. Endorsement of the concept of empowered leadership by the IASC principals now ensures recognition of the respective responsibilities of HCs, HCTS and inter-agency partners in the critical first months of a Level 3 emergency response. OCHA supported the development and dissemination of the “IASC Coordination Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at the Country Level”. This module was rolled out to the field in late 2012. It includes brief, field-orientated advice on cluster activation/deactivation (including criteria to be used as a basis for cluster review); cluster functions and management; minimum commitments for cluster participation; inter-cluster coordination; and sub-national coordination, shared leadership and performance management. This guidance will help OCHA country offices in their routine support to HCs/HCTs in finding the most efficient and relevant coordination solutions for the country context at the national and sub-national level.
The guidance is complemented by two tools to monitor coordination performance and reinforce regular review of coordination mechanisms: (i) a checklist to monitor progress of coordination performance/cluster activation after the declaration of a Level 3 emergency; (ii) a coordination performance report to be used in all humanitarian responses for an in-depth assessment of the quality of coordination/cluster operations and the production of key deliverables in six categories. Through field validation, by the end of 2012 the tools were being used to review cluster performance on the ground in Pakistan, South Sudan and Somalia, prior to a more comprehensive roll-out in early 2013.
Ensuring stakeholders’ commitment to engage in coordination that supports effective leadership remained a priority in 2012. The 2012 donor-cluster consultations and stakeholder consultation process helped review the donor community’s expectations of cluster performances. This brought an agreement on how to improve burden sharing and therefore predictability in cluster funding, as well as greater clarity on how to harness NGOs’ capacity to play a greater role in cluster coordination. The development of the IARRM crystallized agencies’ commitment to rapidly deploy pre-identified humanitarian leaders and coordination experts in a Level 3 emergency. Increased OCHA engagement with NGOs has been institutionalized at the field and headquarter levels with the introduction of monthly OCHA-NGO dialogue. This has addressed administrative obstacles to NGO work, improved NGOs’ participation in coordination mechanisms, provided a forum to discuss shared operational challenges and allowed regular discussion on implementing the ITA.
- Objective 1.1 - Member States and Regional Organizations
- Objective 1.2 - Operational Partners
- Objective 1.3 - Preparedness
- Objective 1.4 - Analysis and System-Wide Learning
- Objective 2.1 - Accountable Humanitarian Coordination Leaders
- Objective 2.2 - Scaling Up and Drawing Down Operations
- Objective 2.3 - Tools and Services
- Objective 2.4 - The Humanitarian Programme Cycle
- Objective 3.1 - Funding and Financial Management
- Objective 3.2 - Surge and Staffing Solutions
- Objective 3.3 - Organizational Learning for Results