Coming Together for Collective Action: IASC Principals Address Urgent Humanitarian Needs - IASC Newsletter No. 04 - 2019
On 5 December 2019 the Executive Heads of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) met in Geneva, Switzerland to address key issues of system-wide importance for humanitarian action. The Committee discussed a number of critical humanitarian crises and the required support to meet urgent humanitarian needs, including in in Syria, the Sahel Region, Afghanistan, and Sudan.
The Committee also agreed on a way forward to ensure that the required attention and actions are taken on the following critical issues:
Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment
Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) and sexual harassment (SH) is a priority for the Principals following the incidents in Central African Republic and other recent events. Taking on the Championship of the IASC PSEA/SH, Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees, shared his priorities, including by bolstering prevention, expanding safe spaces and promoting a respectful use of authority and called for increased leadership and advocacy. The IASC recognized the importance of demonstrating culture change and addressing power dynamics. The IASC expressed full support and their continued commitment to protect from sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment, including clear commitments on advocacy, dedicated resources, and promotion of the IASC Six Core Principles Relating to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, especially in high-risk humanitarian contexts. The IASC further committed to promote the Inter-Agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme to prevent perpetrators from moving through the system.
Find out more about what the IASC is doing on PSEA and Sexual Harassment here.
Grand Bargain and IASC collaboration
The Principals were joined by H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Eminent Person of the Grand Bargain and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, who spoke about the importance of stronger IASC-Grand Bargain collaboration and emphasized that more needed to be done in the priority areas of quality financing, empowering a local response, getting the information and analysis right and saving costs. The Principals discussed how the work of the Grand Bargain can be complemented and supported by the IASC and its Results Groups as well as by IASC members in their individual roles. The need for collective accountability on Grand Bargain commitments was raised. Principals agreed to continue their engagement with the Grand Bargain processes and stand by their Grand Bargain commitments.
Find more information on the Grand Bargain here.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Humanitarian Crises
According to the World Health Organization, one in five people living in a conflict zone has some form of mental health disorder. Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, noted that, as a silent crisis, conflicts and trauma can lead to serious long-term mental health and psychosocial consequences among affected populations, yet this is often overlooked in humanitarian response. Against this backdrop, the IASC recognized that incorporating MHPSS into response improves the quality of the activities, contributes to enhancing the coping of people affected by crisis and accelerates the recovery and rebuilding of communities. Since the launch of the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (2007), the IASC MHPSS Reference Group has stepped up support to the field, including by establishing and supporting country-level MHPSS working groups. In an effort to keep this issue high on the agenda, the IASC expressed support for the work underway to develop a Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework as well as a Minimum Service Package for MHPSS in 2020. The Principals agreed to treat MHPSS as a cross-cutting issue that has relevance within health, protection, nutrition, education and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) sectors/clusters, in all emergencies.
Find more resources on MHPSS in humanitarian crises here.
Impact of Counter-terrorism Measures on Humanitarian Action
Given the increasing impact of sanctions and counterterrorism measures on principled humanitarian action, Mr. Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, spoke about the need for stepped up efforts to mitigate the negative impact of such measures on the ability to meet the urgent humanitarian needs on the ground. He noted that the impact of such measures can materialize in different ways, including through heavy administrative processes, restrictive clauses in funding agreements or laws that criminalize impartial humanitarian activities. The IASC members agreed to engage proactively in open and sustained dialogue with Member States to raise awareness on concerns and work toward practical solutions.
Find more information on the impact of counter-terrorism measures here.
Read the full newsletter here