ON COMPLEX EMERGENCIES
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
For additional copies of this document, or for further
information, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (212) 963-1040
Table of Contents
and Scope of the Handbook
A Word From Some Colleagues
What is a complex emergency?
The changing nature of conflict
is OCHA and what does it do?
A Brief Background
OCHA Mission Statement
An Outline of OCHA’s Core Functions
OCHA Priorities in 1999
OCHA Structure at
and how does OCHA respond?
Contingency Planning/Forward Planning
Inter-agency situation/ needs assessment
Field coordination mechanism
represents OCHA in the field ?
Establishing the Field Coordination Mechanism
The Resident Coordinator as Humanitarian Coordinator
The Lead Agency
Humanitarian Coordinator distinct from Resident Coordinator or Lead Agency
Field Coordination Units
does OCHA work with?
The Affected Population
Government and Local Authorities
NGOs, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IOs) and the Red Cross Movement
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA
Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP)
The Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF)
The Complex Emergency Response Branch (CERB)
The Emergency Liaison Branch (ELB)
UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC)
Military and Civil Defence Unit (MCDU)
Emergency Duty System
of Civilians in Armed Conflict
Humanitarian Action and Human Rights
Internally Displaced Persons
Security of Humanitarian Personnel
The ‘Development Gap’
Gender and Humanitarian Action
Children and Armed Conflict
Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions
Humanitarian Impact of the Proliferation of Small Arms
Humanitarian Implication of Landmines
OCHA On-Line (www.reliefweb.int/ocha.ol)
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)
with the Media
do I talk to?
Travel to my Duty Station
Occasional Recuperation Break (ORB)
Annex I - Acronysms Used in the Handbook
II - Terms of Reference of the Humanitarian Coordinator
III- OCHA Presence in the World
IV - UN Security Phases
V- 1998 Contributions for Field Coordination Units, IRINs and CAP
VI - CAP Generic Process Timetable for a Calendar Year
Annex VII - Further Reading
What does the Security Council have to do with UN humanitarian assistance
in the field? To whom do you turn if you have problems with your contract?
Whom will you be working with in the field? How do you deal with a journalist
asking you politically sensitive questions? The answers to frequently asked
questions such as these can be found in this handbook, the purpose of which is
to help prepare you for fieldwork with the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The first aim of the handbook is to provide a better understanding of
OCHA’s role in coordinating the response to complex emergencies (that are
primarily man-made, often with conflict as a major cause), and how it relates
to the rest of the humanitarian community. Its second aim is to demystify the
links between UN headquarters and operations in the field. The approach is
essentially a practical one, offering information on a variety of issues from
administrative matters to how to deal with policy issues in the field. Since
the handbook is intended as an aid to orientation in the field, and not as an
exhaustive field manual, it provides numerous reference points for further
sources of detailed information.
Since this is the first such handbook prepared since DHA was transformed
into OCHA in 1998, we expect that it will need to be revised and updated in
the year 2000. As such, we would
appreciate any comments and queries that you may have on any aspect of this
document. You can send your
comments and queries to Ms. Tes Dimalanta-Smith, Information Management
Services Branch, by e-mail (email@example.com)
or by fax at (212) 963-1040.
A good understanding of OCHA’s role in the context of complex
emergencies, of how policy translates into practice and how to overcome
administrative hurdles may help to minimize frustrations upon arrival at an
OCHA field duty station. Throughout the handbook OCHA staff members give their
personal comments on problems that may be encountered in the field, and how
they could be resolved or avoided altogether. Here are some in the way of
The official definition of a complex emergency is “a humanitarian
crisis in a country, region or society where there is total or considerable
breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which
requires an international response that goes beyond the mandate or capacity of
any single agency and/ or the ongoing United Nations country program.”
(IASC, December 1994).
Such “complex emergencies” are typically characterized by:
extensive violence and loss of life; massive displacements of people; widespread damage to societies and economies
the need for large-scale, multi-faceted humanitarian assistance
the hindrance or prevention of humanitarian assistance by political and military constraints
significant security risks for humanitarian relief workers in some areas
In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, the number of armed conflicts
around the world increased – particularly those within State borders.
According to one widely quoted source, the Stockholm International Peace
Research Institute (SIPRI), in 1992 a total of 55 armed conflicts were
recorded in 41 locations. This number declined to 33 armed conflicts recorded
in 26 locations in 1997. (SIPRI can be accessed at www.peace.uu.se).
Statistics on refugees and other uprooted people are often inexact and
controversial, with different sources citing conflicting statistics. According
to just one source, the UNHCR, the total number of people of concern to them
rose from 17 million in 1991 to a record 27 million in 1995. This figure
includes refugees, returnees and certain IDPs. Until the Kosovo crisis in 1999
however, this number had been in decline, dropping to 22.3 million at the
beginning of 1998 (a figure that still represents one out of every 264 people
on earth). It is widely agreed that the proportion of IDPs within this figure
had increased throughout the 1990s.
The amount of resources provided for international humanitarian
assistance efforts continues to decrease. In 1994 the total requirements for
the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) amounted to US$2,778 million, of
which 75.8% was met, whereas in 1998 only 53.9% of the US$2,163 million
requested was met. (See Chapter 5 on Funding and the CAP).
In today’s wars, typically over 90% of the victims are civilians. At
the same time assisting affected civilians in war zones has become
increasingly dangerous. Between 1993 and 1999 more than 150 UN personnel lost
their lives while on duty.
The nature of contemporary armed conflict is described in the following
briefing to the Security Council by the head of OCHA in January 1999:
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is part of
the United Nations Secretariat and has the mandate to coordinate the provision
of humanitarian assistance (particularly that of the UN system) in complex
emergencies and natural disasters. Where a humanitarian crisis goes beyond the
mandate or capacity of a single agency, OCHA works to ensure a rapid and
effective response by all parties involved – including governments,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies.
By 1991 the increasing number of protracted internal conflicts that
required a sustained international response - such as those in Afghanistan,
Iraq and the Sudan - signaled a pressing need for more effective coordination.
There was by then a growing recognition that the absence of proper
coordination could lead to chaotic and ultimately ineffective responses to a
humanitarian crisis, with the result that efforts were duplicated whilst some
needs might be overlooked.
This resulted in the establishment of the UN Department of Humanitarian
Affairs (DHA) in 1992, as a support body for the newly appointed Emergency
Relief Coordinator. By the same resolution (46/182) the UN General Assembly
established the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), that would become the
main forum for consultation and decision-making between humanitarian agencies.
As part of the UN Secretary-General’s reform program the Department was
restructured in January 1998 and renamed the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. Its coordination functions were strengthened, partly by
the transfer of operational functions such as mine clearance to other entities
within the UN system. Policy development, on issues such as the protection of
internally displaced persons, as well as advocacy of humanitarian issues, were
retained among OCHA’s core functions.
As a non-operational organization, OCHA is widely regarded as more
impartial and more objective than operational agencies whose primary concern
is with their own particular field. Secondly, due to its strong links with the
political, peacekeeping and human rights components of the UN, OCHA is
well-placed to promote a more holistic, integrated approach to complex crises
and to peace-building, reconstruction and longer term development.
OCHA has three core functions:
Coordination in the field takes place through the work of Resident/
Humanitarian Coordinators, who lead the UN Country Teams. Where appropriate,
Field Coordination Units (staffed largely by OCHA) may be established to
support the Coordinator. In complex emergencies, OCHA representatives in the
field must cooperate with a broad range of actors, in addition to humanitarian
organizations (Humanitarian Coordination In-Country will be discussed at
length in Chapter 3).
At Headquarters level, the head of OCHA (currently Mr. Sergio Vieira de
Mello) has dual responsibilities as Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs (USG), and as Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). In his role as ERC,
he chairs the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), that brings together
most of the major humanitarian players, both within and outside the UN system,
and is the most important forum for reaching consensus on coordinating the
international humanitarian response to emergencies. As USG, the head of OCHA
is the principal adviser to the Secretary-General on humanitarian issues, and
Convener of the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA). The ECHA
provides a forum for the humanitarian community and the political and
peacekeeping departments of the UN Secretariat to share perspectives on
humanitarian crises and issues (see Chapter 4 for further explanation of
coordination at the headquarters level).
In close collaboration with its humanitarian partners, OCHA seeks to
ensure that appropriate policies are adopted and applied within each emergency
or disaster, and that important issues falling between the existing mandates
of humanitarian organizations are addressed.
Examples of OCHA’s priorities in this regard are:
How to handle the issue
of assistance to and (more sensitively) protection of Internally Displaced
The reinforcement of
humanitarian ground rules, e.g. the need for practical guidelines on how and
when to intervene, how to resolve “humanitarian dilemmas”, and when to
suspend assistance or withdraw.
The related priority of
trying to define the relationship between human rights and humanitarian
action. For example, how should the need for humanitarian access be reconciled
with the need or obligation for human rights advocacy in the face of glaring
human rights abuses?
How to address the
“development gap” – i.e. the transition from relief to development (see
Chapter 7 on policy issues in the context of field work).
The advocacy of humanitarian issues is an increasingly important activity
of the humanitarian community. Its main aim is to give voice to victims and
ensure that humanitarian issues and concerns are taken fully into account in
all relevant fora (political, peacekeeping, developmental, human rights and
humanitarian). There has been an increasing disregard in recent years for
fundamental humanitarian principles, serious violations of international
humanitarian law, and threats to the safety and protection of civilians and
relief personnel. This has highlighted the need to enhance awareness among all
involved in complex emergencies of humanitarian concerns and objectives.
OCHA’s advocacy function is carried out on one level through its
briefings to inter-governmental bodies, in particular the Security Council,
and through its strong links with other components of the UN Secretariat (such
as the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping
Operations). Topical issues include sanctions, security of humanitarian staff,
the proliferation of small arms and landmines. In terms of broader outreach
OCHA is working towards coordinating advocacy campaigns on issues of concern
to the humanitarian community, such as the protection of civilians in armed
conflict and greater respect for international humanitarian law (see Chapter 7
on advocacy of humanitarian issues in the field).
OCHA also provides information on humanitarian needs and response to the
international community on which to base sound policy, advocacy and
decision-making. This is done through the support of emergency information
systems aimed at early warning and preventive action, as well as through web
sites and electronic mail (see
Chapter 8 for OCHA information platforms).
carrying out the above functions, OCHA is guided by a number of fundamental
humanitarian principles (that form the basis of international humanitarian
assistance in general). These principles are especially relevant for OCHA work
at the field level, where OCHA representatives (through the leadership of the
UN Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator) are meant to promote their application
on behalf of the affected population, and the wider humanitarian assistance
community (see Chapter 7, Policy & Advocacy Issues in the Context of Field
Work). Their relevance is increased by the fact that in most contemporary
conflicts, international humanitarian law is overlooked, making the delivery
of humanitarian assistance more problematic and sometimes dangerous. But while
it is important to be familiar with such principles, knowing how to actually
apply them when faced with a problem or dilemma in the field can of course
prove to be far from straightforward, and several examples of this will be
given throughout the handbook.
The main principles are summarized below, drawing from the General
Assembly resolution 46/182 and some generally recognized principles of
international humanitarian law. These include the Geneva Conventions relating
to the protection of victims of war, and the two additional 1977 protocols to
the 1949 Conventions dealing with the protection of victims of international
and internal armed conflicts.
is of fundamental importance for the victims of natural disasters and other
must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and
suffering should be addressed wherever it is found. The dignity and rights of
all victims must be respected and protected
Humanitarian assistance should be provided without discriminating as to ethnic
origin, gender, nationality, political opinions, race or religion. Relief of
the suffering of individuals must be guided solely by their needs and priority
must be given to the most urgent cases of distress.
Humanitarian assistance should be provided without engaging in hostilities or
taking sides in controversies of a political, religious or ideological nature.
territorial integrity and national unity of the State must be fully respected
in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Each State has the
responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural
disasters and other emergencies occurring in its territory.
for the protection and well-being of a civilian population rests with the
government of the state or authorities that control the territory in which the
population is located. Insurgent groups and militias should be held to the
same standard of responsibility as governments.
Free and unimpeded
access for humanitarian assistance activities must be granted by all parties
Every effort should be
made to ensure security and protection of UN and associated personnel engaged
in humanitarian assistance activities. Protagonists shall be held directly
accountable to the UN and the international community for attacks on UN staff
and others connected with the UN’s humanitarian operations.
In situations of armed
conflict, civilians are protected under international law against attacks,
torture and other violations of international humanitarian law and human
States in proximity to
countries in crisis are urged to help facilitate, wherever possible, the
transit of international humanitarian assistance.
The parties to the
conflict must respect and apply the spirit and letter of international
humanitarian law and human rights, and established principles relating to
Structure at headquarters in New
York and Geneva
At Headquarters, OCHA’s presence in both New York and Geneva reflects
the two aspects of humanitarian action. A presence in Geneva is strategically
important for support to the field, and for consultation and negotiation with
operational agencies, whilst OCHA’s presence in New York is due to the fact
that humanitarian action is inseparable from political and peacekeeping issues.
NEW YORK is
the seat of the Head of OCHA, who occupies the Office of the
Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs and, simultaneously, that of Emergency Relief Coordinator, (ERC). These
functions are described in Chapter 4 on humanitarian coordination at the
international level. The USG is
supported by the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, also based in New York,
and assisted by his Office.
The secretariat of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and of the
Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA) is based in New York (see
The Executive Office in New York assists the USG in his financial,
personnel and general administrative responsibilities. It serves OCHA as a whole
and coordinates the administration of the New York and Geneva offices within a
framework accepted by the two sides. The Office also assists the ERC in
administering the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (see Chapter 5) and manages
trust funds and accounts under its responsibility.
The Emergency Liaison Branch (ELB) in New York is one of two branches of
OCHA that are responsible for the coordination of complex emergency response
(the other being the Complex Emergency Response Branch, CERB, in Geneva – see
The ELB is divided into two sections – Africa, and Asia, Europe and
Latin America – and is responsible for support to the Emergency Relief
Coordinator and field coordinators on cross-cutting policy issues with
humanitarian, political, security and military dimensions. ELB interacts with UN
Secretariat departments (particularly the Department of Political Affairs, the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the UN Security Coordinator), as well
as with inter-governmental bodies and relevant actors on complex emergency
situations and issues. It also provides reports on the humanitarian aspects of
emergencies to the Secretary-General, the Security Council, other
inter-governmental bodies and relevant fora (services provided by ELB and CERB
to support the field are described in Chapter 6).
The Policy, Advocacy and Information Division (PAID), also based in New
York, consists of two branches: the Policy
Development and Advocacy Branch (PDAB)
and the Information Management Services
The PDAB is primarily responsible for supporting the head of OCHA in two
of the three core functions identified for his Office: the development of
generic humanitarian policy (through the Policy Development Unit), and the
advocacy of humanitarian issues (through the Advocacy and External
The IMSB also consists of two
Units: the Information Analysis Unit
(IAU) and the Information Technology Unit (ITU). The IAU facilitates
inter-agency early warning monitoring of potential new complex emergencies, and
promotes in-country contingency planning and preparedness measures.
Another portion of IAU operates OCHA’s two Web sites (ReliefWeb and
OCHA Online – see Chapter 8) as well as activities regarding Geographic
Information Systems. The ITU
manages and supports OCHA’s headquarters and field computer systems, and
supports the publication and dissemination of OCHA documents.
GENEVA is a
key humanitarian center, and is the OCHA focal point for support to the field.
Geneva is strategically located for access to the headquarters of humanitarian
organizations based there, as well as to other UN humanitarian agencies, major
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and European donors.
The Director of the Geneva Office is responsible for OCHA’s activities
in Europe. He represents the USG to governments and organizations based in or
with offices in Europe. He also manages the Geneva Office with its
responsibilities in both natural disasters and complex emergencies. In his
capacity as Assistant ERC, he chairs the IASC-Working Group (see Chapter 4) and
is often required by the USG to travel to countries in crisis to undertake
negotiations or review coordination arrangements.
The IASC Liaison Unit both supports the Director of the Geneva Office as
Chairperson of the IASC-WG and liaises with IASC members in Europe, ensuring
that their positions are adequately reflected in the agendas and discussions of
both IASC and ECHA.
The Finance and Administrative Section (FAS) meanwhile assists the
Director of the Geneva Office in his financial, personnel and general
administrative responsibilities. It also provides administrative support to
field personnel, as well as program budget support for humanitarian operations
in the field and for various projects in the areas of natural disasters and
With regard to the coordination of complex emergency response, the
Complex Emergency Response Branch (CERB) in Geneva is the principal focal point for day-to-day support to the field.
It is responsible for all issues of field support to promote coordination and
strategic field-based planning. CERB also issues appeals and other documents to
the donor community (for example, it is responsible – together with OCHA field
staff – for the preparation, launch, and monitoring of the Consolidated
Appeals Process). It is also responsible for the promotion and negotiation of
funding for OCHA’s own requirements, as well as for the promotion of UN
operations in complex emergencies (see Chapter 6 for further detail of field
support provided by CERB).
OCHA headquarters in Geneva are also home to entities dealing with
natural disasters, such as the Secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)
and the Disaster Response Branch (DRB). Within the DRB, field support
services such as the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and
the Military and Civil Defense Unit (MCDU)
may be deployed in complex emergencies where appropriate (see Chapter 6 on
‘Services & Tools Available to Support the Field’).
The complicated nature of contemporary armed conflicts causing
large-scale humanitarian crises is such that it may be difficult to identify
when a “complex emergency” actually starts and when it is truly over.
The most obvious starting point for the international humanitarian
community is when the need for assistance significantly exceeds the capacity
– both of the local population and of humanitarian aid agencies - in a
particular country. OCHA’s multifaceted response begins before this
point is reached however, and includes the following activities (many of which
will be described more fully in subsequent chapters):
OCHA plays a leading role in inter-agency early warning of potential new
complex emergencies. Much of this
involves the work of the Information Analysis Unit within the Framework for
Coordination mechanism that includes OCHA, DPA, DPKO, UNDP, UN Human Rights, FAO,
UNICEF and WHO. The Framework Team
consultations on countries of concern include promoting in-country contingency
planning for higher risk countries, as well as actions that could help prevent
or mitigate the conflict.
Prior to the onset of a complex emergency, the Information Analysis Unit,
working closely with ELB and CERB, is responsible for working with the UN
Resident Coordinator and agencies in-country to carry out contingency planning
and preparedness actions. Some
components of this work include developing common inter-agency planning
scenarios and assumptions, agreeing on the division of labor in advance of the
start of a relief operation, and identifying and positioning standby relief
items. A document describing the
“Key Elements of Inter-Agency Contingency Planning” is available from IAU.
Once a complex emergency has started, the same type of early warning and
contingency planning – termed “forward planning” in this phase - is a
crucial part of the ongoing work of the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator and
his/ her coordination support staff in-country.
It is essential that they do not get so preoccupied by the immediate
relief needs that they fail to closely monitor changes, identify new trends,
project alternative scenarios for different directions the emergency may take,
and make preparations for the changing needs and operating conditions that may
arise. It is precisely because OCHA
is not an operational agency that it has this responsibility in the field.
OCHA’s ability to provide the leadership and vision to keep the relief
operation ahead of the curve of fast changing events is crucial. The failure of
a relief operation to carry out such strategic planning and preparedness will be
laid squarely on OCHA.
When a humanitarian crisis appears imminent, or is in the early stages,
OCHA – through IASC consultations - often organizes and leads inter-agency
assessment missions in order to determine humanitarian needs and put in place
appropriate coordination mechanisms on the ground. Such assessment missions
involve UN agencies such as UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF, as well as other humanitarian
organizations and NGOs. Humanitarian needs can then be prioritized on the basis
of a common strategy. Needs assessment is also an important ongoing feature of
OCHA’s field activities, not least for the purpose of fund-raising (see
See Chapter 3 for details of humanitarian coordination in-country.
Crucial resources such as Consolidated Appeals will be explained in
When post-conflict rehabilitation becomes a realistic option, OCHA seeks
to hand over most of its activities to other agencies that are mandated to
coordinate such rehabilitation. These would normally include the UN Development
Programme, and bodies such as the World Bank. OCHA would then resume
responsibility for monitoring future humanitarian needs, through the UN Resident
In practice the transition from relief to rehabilitation is rarely
clear-cut. For example rehabilitation may be viable in some areas of a country
whilst conflict continues in others. Sometimes a conflict may appear to have
ended, but the lack of a lasting political solution causes it to erupt again
(making it premature to dismantle relief capacities). For a variety of reasons,
including political ones, some donors may be willing to fund a particular
activity if it is defined as “relief”, or is funded within a humanitarian
assistance appeal, but not if it falls under “rehabilitation” efforts.
Lastly, the phasing-out of relief coordination efforts must be managed
carefully, taking into consideration local political, economic and social
conditions (e.g. the abrupt termination of food aid may be a threat to
stability, and may require a gradual phasing-out).
*See the IASC Recommendations Related to the Review of the Capacity of
the UN System for Humanitarian Assistance, October 1998 (Section 3: Local
Capacities/ Relief and Development).
The difficulties involved in knowing when a humanitarian crisis has
actually ended, and so when relief should end and the “development phase”
should begin, are well illustrated by developments in the Republic of Congo:
OCHA field coordination mechanisms vary depending on the particular
circumstances of each complex emergency. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
decides upon the appropriate mechanism on a case-by-case basis.
Coordination arrangements are continuously reviewed by the IASC, which
will recommend change as and when appropriate. Following a 1998 IASC review on
the capacity of the UN system for humanitarian assistance, the range of options
for field coordination mechanisms includes three main mechanisms:
In most complex emergency situations the UN Resident Coordinator (RC)
represents OCHA in the early warning and initial response phases of a
humanitarian emergency. When managing and coordinating responses to complex
emergencies, as well as natural and technological disasters, the RC is
responsible and accountable to the ERC (whereas
when dealing with natural disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness, to
ensure national capacity building, the RC reports to UNDP).
When faced with the threat of a full-blown crisis, the IASC may confirm
the Resident Coordinator as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for the
emergency - if the individual has the appropriate skills and expertise. If not,
a separate Humanitarian Coordinator with the necessary profile will be
appointed. The Humanitarian Coordinator is accountable to the ERC.
The primary function of the Humanitarian Coordinator is to facilitate and
ensure the quick, effective, and well-coordinated provision of humanitarian
assistance to those seriously affected by the complex emergency in question (see
Annex II for Terms of Reference).
The Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator is supported by field staff who,
depending on the scale of the emergency, may be organized into Field
Coordination Units (FCUs). These are usually staffed by OCHA staff, but may also
include personnel from UN agencies or NGOs. Again, the structure of FCUs is dependent on the particular
coordination support needs in-country (see Page 15/16).
The IASC may – where appropriate - designate a lead agency to assume
the responsibilities of humanitarian coordination. Factors influencing the
designation of a lead agency are that the various sectors of assistance being
delivered are closely related to the mandate of the agency; the assigned agency
has the capacity to undertake strategic coordination needs and to establish and
maintain both sectoral and common operational support mechanisms, while at the
same time executing the operations specific to its mandate; and the agency has a
presence on the ground and/ or is able to mobilize rapidly.
The lead agency is selected
from among IASC members, and its country-director is appointed as Humanitarian
Coordinator. This person is accountable to the ERC for his/ her responsibilities
as Humanitarian Coordinator, while continuing to be accountable to his/ her own
Executive Head for activities within the agency’s mandate.
In special circumstances the ERC may appoint a Humanitarian Coordinator where there is no Resident Coordinator in place, or where the IASC agrees that the in-country situation means it would not be viable for the Resident Coordinator or a lead agency to carry out the humanitarian coordination functions. As soon as the situation permits, however, arrangements should be made for the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Resident Coordinator functions to be carried out by the same person or, as necessary, for a lead agency to be appointed
When considering the types of field coordination mechanism established in
different countries or regions, it should be noted that there are two aspects of
humanitarian coordination in the UN system: strategic coordination and
Strategic coordination includes the overall direction and setting of
goals of the humanitarian program; allocating tasks and responsibilities and
ensuring they are reflected in a strategic plan in accordance with agencies’
mandates; the advocacy of humanitarian principles and negotiating access;
ensuring that resource mobilization for the program responds to priorities as
agreed in the strategic plan; monitoring and evaluating the overall
implementation of the program to ensure that changing circumstances and
constraints are identified and responded to; and liaising with the military and
political participants of the international community, including that of the UN.
Operational coordination comprises substantive coordination in relation
to specific sectors, geographical areas, and beneficiary groups. Agencies may
play a coordination role within a particular area of expertise – for example,
UNICEF often takes the lead in water and sanitation programs within the larger
inter-agency coordination process. It may also involve providing common services
for humanitarian participants in areas such as security, communications, and
common logistics systems.
Although their structure, size and precise activities vary depending on
the nature of the complex emergency (as well as on adequate funding by donors),
the primary role of Field Coordination Units (FCUs) remains essentially the
same: to support Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators in carrying out their
coordination responsibilities at the field level. Thus, they play a crucial part
in ensuring common programming among humanitarian actors in the field.
In support of the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator, the FCU’s
responsibilities include liaising regularly with government counterparts, NGOs
and UN Agencies on humanitarian programs and related requirements; analyzing and
disseminating information on the humanitarian situation, including on access, to
humanitarian partner and donors; planning, facilitating and monitoring the
Consolidated Appeal (CAP); organizing field assessments to affected areas for
the UN, NGOs, governments and donors, and ensuring appropriate follow-up; and
supporting UN Agencies’ efforts to build institutional capacity at national
and local levels for adequate response to and management of humanitarian crises
In 1999 FCUs were present in 19 countries and regions in Africa, Asia and
Europe (see map in Annex III).
There is no rule of thumb as to the structure and size of FCUs. Instead,
the makeup of FCUs is determined by local circumstances and current needs – as
illustrated by the following three examples:
The FCU in the Russian Federation
is very small, consisting of just one international humanitarian affairs officer
and two local support staff.
economic difficulties in that country, exacerbated by winter, led to a request
in 1998 from the government for humanitarian assistance in certain sectors. OCHA
deployed, for a six-month period, a humanitarian affairs officer to support the
Resident Coordinator in responding to this request, by leading a series of
inter-agency assessment missions throughout the county. The assessment process
sparked debate between agencies both within and outside the UN system as to who
might take the lead on different tasks, due to the overlapping mandates of some
assistance program for the Russian Federation is recommended and subsequently
approved by the IASC Working Group, it is possible that an expanded FCU may be
established in the future.
In the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC), fighting across the country in 1998 exacerbated an already
serious humanitarian situation with a regional perspective. The fighting
resulted in the displacement of an estimated 500,000 people, serious human
rights abuses, destruction of infrastructure and the near-complete devastation
of an already crippled economy. DRC’s proximity to war-ravaged Angola and the
Republic of Congo created an additional source of instability, as well as an
influx of refugees. A well coordinated, multi-sectoral response to the
humanitarian disaster became essential.
The FCU in
DRC is of medium size, but remains subject to change in light of prevailing
security conditions. In 1998 the Humanitarian Coordination Unit (a joint venture
with UNDP), in support of the Humanitarian Coordinator, comprised three
international and four national staff members:
Chief of Unit (UNDP), based in Kinshasa: responsible for managing the office, developing a work program, overall supervision, donor liaison, liaison with the government aimed at enhancing state capacity to establish its own humanitarian coordination office, and promoting concerted rehabilitation schemes.
Officer (OCHA), based in Kinshasa: responsibilities include liaison with UN
agencies and NGOs, collecting humanitarian data to establish a data base,
organizing inter-agency assessment missions, and consolidating monthly
inter-agency situation reports.
· Information Officer (OCHA),
based in Goma: responsibilities include monitoring and analyzing the situation
in the eastern provinces, preparing weekly situation reports, and liaising with
local authorities, NGOs and UN agencies.
· Rehabilitation Officers (UNDP),
based in Goma and Bukavu: responsibilities include monitoring and reviewing
rehabilitation activities, and enhancing local capacity for crisis preparedness.
· National Expert (UNDP),
based in Kinshasa: responsibilities include UNDP-related
rehabilitation projects in DRC.
Information Assistant (OCHA),
based in Goma: responsibilities include assisting the Information Officer in
Goma as required (for example, by compiling press reviews, monitoring radio
news, and liaising with local NGOs and representatives of civil society).
addition, a Senior Humanitarian Adviser was temporarily deployed and given the
task of travelling throughout the country to define strategic issues and
recommendations for future involvement in the DRC. This adviser reports to the
UN Humanitarian Coordinator.
3) One of the largest Field
Coordination Units is the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA), with 16
international and 58 national staff. Two decades of war and civil strife,
exacerbated by several natural disasters, contributed to the creation of a
complex emergency of the highest magnitude. The roles and responsibilities of
UNOCHA are described below, in order to illustrate both the possible structure
and strategies of OCHA in the field.
Whom does OCHA work with?
In complex emergencies, the Humanitarian Coordinator, with the support of
field staff,must cooperate with a wide range of actors, in addition to the
humanitarian organizations. In some cases it may be necessary to deal not only
with the host government but also with opposition groups, in order to obtain
access to needy people in disputed areas. Major donor governments are also often
present in-country, as well as numerous international NGOs delivering
assistance. There may also be a peacekeeping mission, either under the auspices
of the UN, or a regional organization or a multinational force; a Special
Representative or Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General; and other special
negotiators representing regional organizations or important countries. Lastly,
security issues are especially critical for humanitarian staff and operations,
and the UN Designated Official for Security in-country is a key partner.
OCHA’s main partners in the field may be summarized as follows:
Since the UN’s main goal in humanitarian action is to help civilian
victims of conflicts and natural disasters, OCHA’s relations with the affected
population, or beneficiaries, are of prime importance.
The bulk of resources used to alleviate the impact of a complex emergency
come from those people directly affected by it. These people are forced to cope
with the emergency from an early stage. Indeed it is often only after they have
exhausted much of their own resources, and have to turn increasingly to
outsiders, that a substantial international response is initiated. In the last
decade there has been increasing recognition of the difficulties and dangers
associated with assisting people in camp settings, and a corresponding increase
in efforts to provide assistance earlier, and of a type and scale that will
allow people to remain in their own homes and communities, or if displaced, to
be taken in by host families.
For international relief workers, factors such as perceived pressure for
quick action and language difficulties may make it difficult to maintain an
extensive and ongoing dialogue with the affected population. Such dialogue is
however crucial for a number of reasons.
One reason is to help with forward planning and early warning of major
changes in future humanitarian needs, such as new flows of displaced persons.
The affected population themselves are often particularly well informed and
astute regarding the impact of military and political factors. A second reason
is in order to best plan and implement ongoing assistance. The affected
population is well placed to identify priority needs, and effective mechanisms
for distributing and utilizing the aid provided. Lastly, outside assistance must
be provided in such a way as to ensure that the affected population maintains a
sense of empowerment and control, and to avoid forcing them into a state of
dependency. A process of consultation and information-sharing from the grass
roots level up is important in achieving this.
Care must however be taken in evaluating who are bona fide leaders among
the affected population, and in obtaining reliable and broad-based information.
Often, those claiming leadership may be self-appointed or designated by a
particular group, and may have a heavily political or personal agenda. Even more
seriously, as in Eastern Zaire and Rwanda in 1994, mass murderers or other
criminals may hide among the affected population in refugee and IDP camps.
Furthermore, international relief workers often obtain a high percentage
of their information about the affected population, and the complex emergency in
general, from their local staff. However, such staff tend to have a higher than
normal proportion of young, educated men who can speak the expatriate language,
and who are not necessarily representative of the wider population.
These limitations can be balanced to some extent by also consulting with
traditional leaders. However, in many countries these tend to be older men who
may have their own limitations, such as an inability to give high priority to
some needs seen as important by women in their community. It is therefore
important to promote ways of sampling views from a representative cross-section
of the community, through culturally appropriate survey techniques as well as
dialogue with official and traditional leaders. NGOs are often well experienced
in such techniques.
In most complex emergency operations, the main UN counterpart in-country is the government, with the exception of countries like Somalia where there is no national government in existence. In most countries, the government will establish a special ministry or other body charged with overall coordination of government humanitarian assistance, and with liaising with international assistance agencies. When such a government coordination structure exists, this is an important counterpart for UN humanitarian coordination staff. Other important government ministries for coordination staff typically include Foreign Affairs, Interior (which usually includes police and security forces, and sometimes the military), and Defense. In addition, UN agencies normally have close links with the line ministries dealing with their specialty, for example UNICEF and WHO with the Ministry of Health.
At the field level, it is not unusual for local authorities, such as
Regional Governors or local military commanders, to have considerable authority
and some degree of independence from the capital. An important task of OCHA
field staff is to ensure that such authorities are well informed about the
objectives, principles and implementation of humanitarian assistance, both of
the UN and the international community as a whole.
In many relief operations, UN assistance may be provided to populations
outside government-controlled areas (for example those held by opposition or
militia groups). In such cases, the provision of humanitarian assistance does
not confer political legitimacy on such opposition groups. OCHA field staff
working in such areas must ensure that they remain well briefed by the Resident/
Humanitarian Coordinator and relevant senior staff on the political
sensitivities of the particular situation. Dealing appropriately with the
political realities on the ground may not be so easy in practice, however, as
attested to by one former OCHA humanitarian officer in the field:
Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator works closely with, and provides leadership
to, the UN Disaster Management Team (DMT) in the field, which includes
representatives of the UN humanitarian agencies present in the affected country
(the Team may also be expanded to include others as appropriate).
the responsibility of Resident Coordinators and UN agency heads in-country is to
ensure that their DMT is already in place and functioning at the early warning
phase of a complex emergency.
complex emergencies, the DMT is the main in-country mechanism for UN agencies to
work out their common humanitarian aid policies and programs, and to coordinate
their specific actions. The DMT should regularly convene joint meetings with
representatives of the larger humanitarian assistance community, e.g. NGOs, the
Red Cross Movement and international organizations such as IOM. These larger
meetings generally lead to the establishment of sectoral sub-committees, for
example on health and water/ sanitation. Often the relevant UN agencies chair
such sub-committees, and play a leading role in sectoral coordination. One
important role of OCHA Field Coordination Units is to provide the necessary
secretariat support to the DMT’s work.
six UN agencies that are normally part of a UN relief effort: UNDP, UNHCR,
UNICEF, WFP, FAO and WHO. With the exception of UNHCR in most situations, these
agencies generally have development-oriented programs in-country prior to the
emergency. Their official
roles in complex emergencies, in a nutshell, are as follows:
UNDP manages a wide range of programs in furtherance of its broad goal “to
support all national and international efforts to achieve sustainable human
development for the world’s peoples” it also plays a role in humanitarian
emergencies. UNDP can often provide
administrative, logistic, communications and other support for OCHA, the
international relief community and the UN’s Disaster Management Team. The
Emergency Response Division of UNDP is responsible for coordinating such UNDP
a significant role in the transition from relief to development, helping prepare
the foundation for coherent recovery programs. In the post crisis-environment,
UNDP helps to develop programs for rehabilitation. UNDP’s work also includes
building national government’s capacity to prepare for, mitigate, manage, and
respond to crisis. In performing these functions, UNDP supports the efforts of
transitional authorities, governments and special interests, as well as donors
and the relief and development community.
contains the UN Volunteers Programme. UNV is mandated to assist the UN system in
collaboration with various UN agencies. Originally focusing just on development
support, and thus coming under the auspices of UNDP, UNV in recent years has
also given special attention to providing experienced volunteer specialist
professionals to work in relief operations, including within governments of
developing countries, UN agencies and NGOs.
mandated to lead and coordinate international assistance and protection for
refugees. UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of
refugees – i.e. people who have fled their country due to a well-founded fear
organization strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek
asylum and find safe refuge in another state, and to return home voluntarily. By
assisting refugees to return to their own country or settle in another country,
UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight. International refugee law
provides an essential framework of principles for UNHCR’s humanitarian
some cases UNHCR also undertakes assistance programs for internally displaced
mandated to advocate and work for the protection of children’s rights, to help
the young meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach
their full potential. In this it is guided by the Convention on the Rights of
the Child. UNICEF works to ensure special protection for the most disadvantaged
children – victims of war (including child soldiers), disasters, extreme
poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation, and those with disabilities.
emergencies, UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes is the focal point for
emergency assistance, humanitarian polices, staff security and support to UNICEF
offices in the field, as well as strategic coordination with humanitarian
partners both within and outside the UN system – including OCHA. UNICEF’s
New York-based Operations Center provides a 24 hour emergency communications
system, that may be accessed by UN agencies when there are concerns for staff
security in the field.
provides food to sustain victims of emergencies and disasters, to improve the
nutrition of the most vulnerable people, and to promote the self-reliance of
poor people and communities. WFP’s dual relief and development mandate allows
it to play a major role in the continuum from emergency relief to rehabilitation
and development, where priority is given to disaster prevention, preparedness
and mitigation, as well as post-conflict rehabilitation activities. WFP’s
large-scale food aid operations has led it to develop a highly specialized and
cost-effective logistics capability, including conventional surface and air
transport, as well as barge and airdrop operations. In complex emergencies WFP
plays an important role in the coordination of food aid and logistics, through
the collection and dissemination of information on global food aid deliveries
and requirements and through in-country coordination structures. WFP also has a
high level of expertise in the area of emergency telecommunication, in
particular “deep-field” connectivity, and may in certain situation be in a
position to address the telecommunications needs of other UN agencies
The WHO is
essentially a development organization, but one that may play an important
role in emergency situations. The WHO Division of Emergency and
Humanitarian Action is responsible for assisting in the coordination of the
international response to complex emergencies and natural disasters in the
health field, in close cooperation with other agencies. In this context, WHO
provides expert advice on epidemiological surveillance, control of communicable
diseases, public health information and health emergency training. Other
emergency relief activities include the fielding of emergency assessment
missions, organizational support for health emergency coordination, provision of
specialized drugs and medical supplies, and stockpiling and standardizing
specialized emergency health supplies. WHO’s emergency preparedness activities
include policy-making and planning, awareness-building, and the dissemination of
technical advice, focusing particularly on training activities in the health
mandated to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve
agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations. The
organization works to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural
development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security – i.e. the
access of all people at all times to the food they need for an active and
addition to its development programs, FAO also plays a major role in dealing
with food and agricultural emergencies. In relief operations, it focuses on the
provision of agricultural inputs, such as seeds, farming tools, and emergency
veterinary services. This involves working closely with relevant NGOs, and in
some countries with UNICEF. Furthermore, the organization operates an early
warning system for famine that assesses shortfalls in food production. It also
conducts joint assessments with WFP in countries of concern to assess food
security and food assistance needs.
practice, coordination between OCHA and these agencies does not always go as
smoothly as it might. This may be due to differences in interpretation over
which agency is mandated to take the lead in different phases of the emergency,
and the potentially conflicting loyalties of a Resident/ Humanitarian
Coordinator who is also the in-country representative of a particular UN agency.
OCHA official, who has spent many years working in the field, makes this
Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) is sometimes appointed by the UN
Secretary-General to act on his behalf in emergencies which are “complex or of
exceptional magnitude” (as set out in the Standard Directives for SRSGs). In
practice, the appointment of an SRSG is normally reserved for those complex
emergencies which require UN involvement in major political negotiations and/ or
when UN peacekeeping forces are deployed.
SRSG is appointed, he/ she is recognized as having overall authority with regard
to UN operations in the designated country. If heading a peacekeeping operation,
the SRSG reports to the Secretary-General through the USG for Peacekeeping
Operations or, if heading a political mission, through the USG for Political
same time the Humanitarian Coordinator is recognized as having the sole mandate
for coordination of humanitarian assessment/ response, under the SRSG’s
strategic lead. The SRSG recognizes that mandate by ensuring that all concerned
agencies and NGOs deal with his office through the HC. HCs report in parallel to
the SRSG and the ERC: in particular to the SRSG on the day-to-day functioning of
operational coordination, but remaining accountable to the ERC for coordination,
programming and policy in relation to humanitarian assistance.
relationship was redefined in this way in April 1999 because of the inherent
tension between two potentially conflicting policy goals where there are
political and humanitarian elements of UN involvement in an emergency (and
therefore between the SRSG and HC in a particular country or region). These
policy goals are the need for the UN to achieve a substantially greater level of
strategic coordination between political and assistance elements of its response
to crises (illustrated by lessons learned from such operations as Bosnia,
Rwanda, Somalia and the former Zaire), balanced with the UN’s mandate to
deliver humanitarian assistance on the fundamental principles of humanity,
impartiality and neutrality – i.e. to respond to victims of armed conflict
solely on the basis of need.
of Guidance on Relations between Representatives of the Emergency Relief
Coordinator and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, April 1999.)
circumstances the Secretary-General may appoint a Special Envoy, who would have
a similar political mandate to that of a SRSG (but who would not head a
peacekeeping mission). A Special Envoy is sometimes deployed for a specific
mission or to address a particular issue (e.g. in the Great Lakes region, to
participate in peace negotiations for the Democratic Republic of Congo).
country where the UN is present, the Secretary-General, in consultation with the
executive heads of all UN agencies, appoints one senior official with the title
of Designated Official for Security. The Designated Official (DO) is responsible
for ensuring security and safety of UN personnel and their eligible dependents
in the country. In this regard the DO is accountable and responsible to the
Secretary-General, through the UN Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD), to whom s/he
must report all security matters. In the majority of countries, the UN Resident
Coordinator serves as the DO.
will constitute a Security Management Team (SMT) to advise him/ her on all
security-related matters. The composition and size of the team may vary,
although most representatives of UN agencies, programs and funds at the Duty
Station are expected to participate. Representatives of NGOs and international
organizations may also be invited to participate. This team will assist the DO
in preparing a Security Plan for the country and, in times of crisis, will meet
frequently to review security arrangements.
addition the DO will, where there is a security phase in effect, grant security
clearance for UN staff and their dependants, if applicable, to enter the country
whether on mission or on assignment; ensure that all staff members and their
dependants are briefed on security measures in place at the duty station; ensure
that appropriate arrangements are in place for the security of locally recruited
staff members; and given appropriate security directives to staff members in the
expectation that they will be followed.
stations where a full-time security officer is not warranted, one international
staff member will serve as the Field Security Officer. For those duty stations
where security is tenuous, a full-time Field Security Officer will be appointed
to assist the Designated Official. This individual plays a key role in
organizing and implementing relocations/ evacuations of UN staff and their
eligible dependants in times of crisis.
‘Security Coordination’ in Chapter 6, and Annex IV for the five UN security
humanitarian assistance is provided in almost all complex emergency situations,
UN peacekeeping operations remain more limited in number. When such peacekeeping
operations are initiated, they generally start up later than the humanitarian
assistance efforts. This is due to the need for first obtaining a Security
Council resolution authorizing the operation, and the time required to obtain
and deploy the necessary troops, weapons and logistics support. However, in some
cases, such as in Rwanda in 1994, UN peacekeeping forces may already be on the
ground when a new emergency occurs in the context of a pre-existing one. Each UN
peace- keeping operation is unique, established with a mandate and
organizational structure tailored to a specific conflict or situation.
peacekeeping has traditionally relied on the consent of opposing parties and
involves the deployment of peacekeepers to implement an agreement approved by
those parties (under Chapter VI of the UN Charter). In the case of enforcement
action, the Security Council gives member states the authority to take all
necessary measures to achieve a stated objective (under Chapter VII of the UN
Charter). Consent of the parties is not necessarily required. It has been used
in very few cases – including the Gulf War, in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, and Albania. None of these enforcement operations was under UN
control. Instead they were directed by a single country or a group of countries.
A NATO-led multinational force succeeded the UN peacekeeping operation in Bosnia
peacekeeping forces can play important roles regarding humanitarian assistance.
One is the provision of security, including for relief convoys. While this is
sometimes controversial, (and some relief agencies contend that armed escorts
often tend to draw fire more than they deter or protect from it), in some
situations it may simply be impossible to operate without such protection.
Peacekeeping forces can also provide major logistics support to relief efforts,
especially in terms of truck and air transport.
downside there is often an inherent tension between humanitarian and military
operations due to their different objectives, roles, responsibilities and
operating styles. This may be attributed to a basic lack of understanding
between two essentially different cultures. In some situations this tension may
be alleviated through the establishment of a Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC).
The CMOC is staffed with military and civilian personnel, and works in support
of the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator. UN humanitarian coordination staff
may also help to resolve such misunderstanding – for example by convening
coordination meetings where humanitarian and military staff can work out issues
of common concern, or by incorporating military liaison officers into the
humanitarian coordination structures.
approach towards this kind of problem-solving is described by a former OCHA
Many donor governments to international relief efforts have embassy
representation in-country. Most of the larger donors usually have specialists
within their embassies that focus on relief efforts.
While UN agencies will, of course, maintain their own direct donor
contacts, meetings between the UN agencies as a group and with the main donors
are generally arranged via the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator. Dialogue with
donors in-country also takes the form of individual meetings, and of visits by
donor representatives to field sites. The Office of the Resident/ Humanitarian
Coordinator should encourage and facilitate such field visits, including
providing support if needed.
An important role of Field Coordination Unit staff is to provide donors
with updated information, especially regarding outstanding assistance needs,
through the provision of Situation Reports and other documents (see Chapter 5 on
the Consolidated Appeals Process). Unit staff are also responsible for ensuring
that donors receive updated information on contributions they have provided.
In most complex emergency situations OCHA will liaise closely with both
international and local NGOs in the field.
International NGOs are private, non-profit organizations that operate in
more than one country. Most have their headquarters in Western countries,
although an increasing number are based in developing countries. Some NGOs are
mandated exclusively for the provision of humanitarian relief (e.g. Medecins
Sans Frontieres), whilst others normally have development-oriented programs
(e.g. Care International, Oxfam, Save the Children Fund) but will become
involved in humanitarian relief operations when a crisis occurs. The
humanitarian relief component of major international NGOs is in part funded by
private sources, and donor governments may use them to channel large amounts of
humanitarian assistance. Some international NGOs also receive funding via UN
agencies, as implementing partners of the UN agency in question. NGOs’
participation in the UN inter-agency consolidated appeals process is crucial, as
it allow collaborative programming to be undertaken within the large
Local NGOs operate only in their country of origin, and may have a wide
range of programs, often with a development perspective. These organizations may
act as implementing partner with international NGOs, and may be funded and
supported by them (and in some cases by international donors).
Inter-governmental organizations are ones that exist outside the UN
system, and which have executive boards composed of national governments. One
important example is the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM
arranges resettlement and repatriation for refugees, usually working in close
collaboration with UNHCR, and focusing particularly on the transportation of
such persons. It also assists with resettlement and repatriation of migrants –
for example the return home of substantial numbers of ‘guest workers’
displaced out of Iraq into neighboring countries prior to the Gulf War.
Another important example of an inter-governmental organization is the
European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). ECHO has the task of
administering humanitarian aid on behalf of the European Union (the biggest
donor of humanitarian aid in the world) to non-European Union countries. This
aid goes to victims of both man-made crises and natural disasters. In carrying
out this task, ECHO works in collaboration with more than 170 organizations
worldwide – including OCHA, UN agencies such as UNICEF, WFP and UNHCR, as well
as the Red Cross family and NGOs dedicated to humanitarian causes.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based in
Switzerland, is the founding institution of the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement. This Movement includes three branches: ICRC, the National Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies (National Societies), and the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). All three branches
have distinct tasks:
mandate is to operate in areas of armed conflict and internal disturbance. It
originally focused mainly on protection work, such as promotion among the
conflicting parties of the various Geneva Conventions and Protocols, regarding
such matters as the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. In recent
years, the provision of assistance in complex emergencies has become a very
large component as well, especially inside conflict zones (and on both sides of
originally a Swiss organization, in part to more effectively promote its
fundamental principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence. It now
incorporates staff of different nationalities in its assistance efforts (e.g.
doctors and mechanics). However, its Delegates, who handle protection matters
and the more sensitive negotiations regarding providing assistance, remain
almost exclusively Swiss.
(ii) National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Societies operate in more than 160 countries around the world (using the Red
Crescent symbol in Islamic countries). These Societies act as auxiliaries to the
public authorities in their own countries. They provide a range of services from
disaster relief, health and social assistance to first aid courses. During
wartime, National Societies may support the army medical services
(iii) International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Federation (or IFRC) works around the world to support the actions of the
various National Societies. It assists with coordination of international
assistance provided via the Red Cross Movement to victims of natural disasters,
and to victims of manmade disasters outside of conflict areas (where ICRC takes
So how do all these humanitarian actors come together in practice? The potential complexity of OCHA strategic coordination in the field may be illustrated by the example of Afghanistan where OCHA comprises some 70 field staff. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) has been presented in some detail in the earlier section on field coordination units. For further background information see Annex VII on ‘Further Reading’.
Humanitarian Coordination at the International LevelHumanitarian Coordination at the International Level
At the headquarters level there are two main OCHA approaches to
humanitarian coordination within the UN system, and these are reflected in the
dual responsibilities of the Head of OCHA as Emergency Relief Coordinator and as
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in the UN Secretariat.
As Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), the Head of OCHA is responsible
for coordination among the humanitarian community. The ERC achieves this in part
through his chairmanship of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which
brings together many of the major international humanitarian entities, both
within and outside the UN system.
As Under-Secretary-General (USG) on the other hand, the Head of OCHA is
the principal adviser to the Secretary-General on humanitarian issues. The USG
provides a link between the humanitarian community and the inter-governmental
organs of the UN (the General Assembly and the Security Council), as well as the
political, security, developmental and human rights elements of the UN system.
This is achieved partly through the USG’s role as Convenor of the Executive
Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), as well as through his chairmanship
of the IASC. The ECHA provides a forum for the humanitarian community and the
political and peacekeeping departments of the UN Secretariat to share
perspectives on humanitarian crises and issues.
The main actors within the UN system at headquarters level with important
humanitarian roles may therefore be summarized under the following headings:
The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly voting on the
recommendation of the Security Council, normally for a term of five years. The
UN Charter empowers him to bring to the attention of the Security Council any
matter which, in his opinion, threatens international peace and security. The
Charter describes the Secretary-General as the “chief administrative
officer” of the organization.
With regard to humanitarian assistance, OCHA liaises closely with the
Office of the Secretary-General, ensuring that the SG is kept up-to-date on
relevant humanitarian developments, especially issues of pressing concern such
as lack of access for humanitarian aid in a particular country.
In the context of complex emergencies the Secretary-General may dispatch
Special Representatives or Special Envoys to a country or region in crisis (see
Chapter 3). Although their focus is usually political or peacekeeping
operations, they are also required to recognize and respect the mandate of the
Humanitarian Coordinator in-country. At headquarters, OCHA may brief a Special
Envoy or Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the humanitarian
situation in the country or region he/she is due to travel to.
The General Assembly is the main UN deliberative organ, composed of
representatives of all 185 Member States.
Although most of its decisions are non-binding recommendations, the
Assembly adopts instruments such as conventions that are legally binding on the
signatories of those conventions. These have included instruments such as the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Status of
At the beginning of each regular session (which usually runs from
September until December), the Assembly holds a general debate in which Member
States express their views on a wide range of matters of international concern.
These include reviews of specific complex emergency situations and humanitarian
assistance efforts, as well as passing Resolutions on systematic matters
regarding UN humanitarian assistance (such
as UN coordination mechanisms). When such a review takes place, Desk Officers at
the Emergency Liaison Branch (ELB) in New York will be in close contact with
OCHA staff in the field, and will pass on relevant information to the
Under-Secretary-General (USG) who may brief the General Assembly.
OCHA also contributes the humanitarian section of the
Secretary-General’s annual report to the General Assembly (effectively a
progress report on the work of the various components of the UN Secretariat).
The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter,
for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council has 15
members, five of which are permanent and have veto powers (i.e. China, France,
Russia, U.K. and U.S.A.).
When a complaint concerning a threat to peace is brought before it, the
Council’s first action is usually to recommend that the parties try to settle
the dispute by peaceful means. It may also investigate in order to determine the
nature and gravity of the situation. It may appoint special representatives or
may request the Secretary-General to do so. In some cases, it may recommend
appropriate action for a peaceful settlement.
When a dispute leads to fighting, the Council’s first concern is to
bring the fighting to an end as soon as possible. It may issue a cease-fire
directive, and send observers to monitor it. It may also send UN peacekeeping
forces to help reduce tensions while negotiations are taking place.
Security Council resolutions will often have a humanitarian component.
For example, in its resolution of 26 February 1999 that confirmed the withdrawal
of the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), the Security Council called upon
“all concerned to cooperate with the UN humanitarian assistance activities
throughout the national territory of Angola on the basis of the principles of
neutrality and non-discrimination and to guarantee the security and freedom of
movement of humanitarian personnel”. In this regard the Security Council may
be briefed by the Under-Secretary-General or the Secretary General himself, who
in turn will have been briefed by the ELB (based on consultations with OCHA in
the field). This now happens on a regular basis.
Failure to comply with decisions of the Council could result in
enforcement measures, such as economic sanctions (see Chapter 7), or even
collective military action.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established under the authority
of the General Assembly, has the key function of serving as the central forum
for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating
policy recommendations to Member States and the UN system. It also makes or
initiates studies and reports, and makes recommendations, on international
cultural, educational, and health-related matters, as well promoting respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
ECOSOC generally holds one five-week substantive session each year,
alternating between New York and Geneva. Since 1998 the Council has incorporated
a humanitarian affairs segment. OCHA and its humanitarian partners (both in and
outside the UN system) contribute to the ECOSOC report that is debated during
this annual session. ECOSOC will subsequently issue policy recommendations to
the participating humanitarian organizations. In 1999 the theme of the
humanitarian segment was strengthening humanitarian coordination, focussing on
issues such as the ‘development gap’ (see Chapter 7).
The UN Secretariat is composed of a variety of entities working in such
fields as political and economic analysis, social development, peacekeeping
operations and others – all of which are directly accountable to the
Secretary-General (as opposed to the UN humanitarian agencies, which, while
ultimately responsible to the Secretary-General, report directly to various
types of boards of directors composed of UN members states). OCHA itself is part
of the Secretariat, and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
reports to the Secretary-General. Parallel to its coordination efforts in the
field (described in Chapter 3), within the UN Secretariat OCHA cooperates most
closely with the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping
Operations, the UN Security Coordinator and – additionally – the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), chaired by the Emergency
Relief Coordinator (ERC), is a primary mechanism through which OCHA discharges
its coordination functions at headquarters level. IASC facilitates inter-agency decision making in response to
complex emergencies primarily by developing and agreeing on system-wide
humanitarian policies; allocating responsibilities among agencies in
humanitarian programs; advocating common humanitarian principles to parties
outside the IASC; identifying areas where gaps in mandates or lack of
operational capacity exist; and building consensus between humanitarian agencies
on system-wide humanitarian issues.
The IASC is formed by the Executive Heads of the following agencies (many
of which are described from a field perspective in Chapter 3):
Committee of the Red Cross
Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies
Organization for Migration
Committee for Humanitarian Response
Council of Voluntary Agencies
Representative of the Secretary General on IDPs
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
IASC responds to new or rapidly changing emergencies through frequent
consultations between the ERC, his deputy and senior executives of the member
At the heads of agency level, the IASC meets formally at least twice a
year and deliberates on issues brought to its attention by the ERC and by the
IASC Working Group (IASC-WG). The IASC-WG, formed by senior representatives of
the same agencies, meets four to six times a year. Its responsibilities include
formulating the agenda for IASC meetings; making non-strategic policy and
operational decisions; endorsing the yearly work plan; and preparing options and
recommendations for the IASC on strategic policy and major operational issues.
The IASC-WG also acts as the inter-agency forum for consultations on all aspects
related to Internally Displaced Persons.
IASC Sub-Working Groups are created on an ad hoc basis to discuss issues at a technical level. Their work
often forms the basis for IASC-WG discussions, and ultimately, for IASC
The relevance of the IASC “process”
is described here by the current head of OCHA:
The Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs is one of the four
Executive Committees created by the Secretary General in the framework of UN
reform, with the aim of enhancing the coordination within the UN system. Chaired
by the head of OCHA in his capacity as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs, and composed of senior executives of various agencies and departments,
ECHA meets on a monthly basis in New York.
ECHA’s membership includes various UN Departments that add a political/
military dimension to humanitarian consultations. It works closely with the
Executive Committee on Peace and Security (ECPS) and the Development Group (DG),
collaborating on developing the concept of Strategic Frameworks as a tool to
define the principles, goals and institutional arrangements for a coherent and
effective UN response to a particular country in crisis.
The following UN agencies and departments are ECHA members:
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
for Peace Keeping Operations
for Political Affairs
Representative of the Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflicts
ECHA is therefore geared towards supporting the Secretary General and
taking quick, executive decisions that are binding in the UN context. These
decisions relate to humanitarian situations in which political, peacekeeping and
security concerns are predominant.
The joint IASC/ ECHA Secretariat of OCHA has a strategic role of
facilitating the work of IASC and ECHA as effective, action-oriented and
well-coordinated decision-making bodies. The Secretariat, based in New York, is
answerable directly to the USG for Humanitarian Affairs. A liaison office is
maintained in Geneva, answerable directly to the Director of OCHA Geneva, with
operational responsibility for facilitating the IASC-WG meetings.
An effective and well-coordinated response to complex emergencies depends
heavily on the ability of the international community to raise the necessary
resources. In view of limited donor support however, in recent years it has
become necessary to address massive humanitarian needs with a declining
availability of resources. This has required improvements to be made not only in
the design of fundraising tools, but in the strategic programming of a
system-wide response to emergencies.
For specific complex emergency situations, OCHA solicits donor support
mainly through the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), that encompasses the
emergency relief requirements of all relevant operational agencies, and to a
much lesser extent through the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF). Both
these mechanisms were established by the General Assembly Resolution 46/182 of
1991, providing the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) with the means to promote
effective and appropriate responses to emergencies.
In the 1999 CAP, the grand total of funding requirements for the
participating agencies in complex emergencies was US$1,735 million. As of April
1999 there was still a shortfall of US$1,387 million.
The CAP is also the main tool for funding OCHA’s own requirements. OCHA
has a regular budget, plus extrabudgetary requirements. In OCHA’s 1998-99
biennial budget, the estimated extrabudgetary requirements for OCHA Field
Coordination Units alone totaled US$27.7 million. As of April 1999 there was
still a shortfall of US$8.1 million.
In order to meet such requirements OCHA is heavily dependent on voluntary
contributions from States and other donor organizations, such as the European
Union (see Annex V for the main donors to OCHA’s coordination activities in
The CAP is based on an overall strategy that enables the UN system to set
clear goals and define priorities in a given country, and provides a framework
for joint programming, common prioritization and joint resource mobilization.
OCHA provides a framework for humanitarian organizations – including UN
agencies, international organizations and NGOs – to prepare the appeals, and
monitors the receipt and use of contributions. At headquarters level, CERB in
Geneva takes the lead role in this (see Chapter 6 for field support provided by
CERB). In the field, the preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of
the CAP is primarily the responsibility of the Humanitarian Coordinator, working
closely with the Country Team (including the OCHA Field Coordination Unit).
The process of planning, preparing and tracking contributions to the CAPs
has evolved considerably. At first, preparation of the CAP was not much more
than a consolidation of individual agency and sectoral projects. Even at that
stage, however, the CAP improved upon the prior practice of each agency
producing its own appeal, with little or no consultation. The 1994 IASC CAP
Guidelines – that clearly define the CAP as a programming process rather than
just an appeal – remain endorsed, although certain aspects need to be updated
(e.g. pre-disaster planning is not considered part of the CAP).
More recently, the CAP has become not only a more efficient fund-raising
mechanism but a much improved coordination tool. The 1999 Technical
Guidelines for the Consolidated Appeals Process provide a framework for the
Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP), the consolidated inter-agency appeal
itself, and strategic monitoring reports including mid term reviews. The
Guidelines also provide practical guidance to Humanitarian Coordinators and
Country Teams on how to prepare and finalize the required documents in the
process (e.g. the format for reports).
The Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) is a collaborative
effort between UN agency field offices and their headquarters, as well as
between agencies and OCHA in the field (for which the primary responsibility
lies with the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator). The CHAP is a coordinated
program of interventions based on an agreed strategy designed to achieve shared
goals. This strategy is made through common analysis of the political, economic
and security constraints in the context of the humanitarian program; analysis of
projected humanitarian needs both in the short and longer term, based on
sectors, identifying any potential gaps; analysis of the competencies and
capacity of the humanitarian community; and a statement of the goals and
objectives (again based on sectors) of the humanitarian community. The strategy
also includes a common analysis of how the transition will be made from relief
activities to the reconstruction, rehabilitation and development activities
carried out by development agencies.
Prioritization of needs is
essential in the CHAP, as it is in the overall appeals process (particularly
from a donor viewpoint). An updated CHAP becomes the starting point for the
actual Consolidated Appeal document.
Details of how the CHAP should be compiled are set out in the Technical
Guidelines for the CAP.
The Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal itself derives from the CHAP
and is normally launched on a yearly basis. The main task of the team that
prepares the appeal (usually the in-country team with external assistance where
necessary), is to develop a set of funding requirements that reflect the
strategic plan’s most urgent components. Prioritization and integration are
The Technical Guidelines for the CAP provide practical information on how
a Consolidated Appeal document should actually be put together, in terms of
content and format. The main components are the updated CHAP, a re-statement of
the prioritization criteria outlined in the CHAP, a summary of sectoral goals
and objectives, and details of individual projects/ programs by sector
(including how they relate to other projects in that sector). The objectives and
budgetary requirements for individual projects must show consistency.
In the case of an unusually urgent situation, it may sometimes become
necessary to launch “Flash”
or Interim Appeals to generate emergency funds, prior to the finalization of
a consolidated inter-agency appeal. These are prepared over the course of a few
weeks and usually cover emergency requirements for only a few months.
In order to support urgent funding needs of agencies and organizations
in-country, the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator, on the advice of the
assessment missions (among others), may request that funds from the Central
Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) be used (described below). The requirements
presented in the Flash Appeal, and funds raised, will subsequently be fully
incorporated into the CAP.
In terms of post-Appeal follow-up activities, the 1999 Technical
Guidelines set out a framework for strategic monitoring and reporting on the
CHAP as a whole. The aim of this is, inter
alia, to provide updated information to the humanitarian community, donors
and other partners, and ultimately to help ensure that humanitarian needs are
met in a timely and appropriate manner.
Reporting is usually in the form of a Mid-Term Review and, particularly
in large-scale complex emergencies, a Quarterly report. The content and format
of these reports is detailed in the Technical Guidelines.
At headquarters, CERB tracks and reports on donor contributions. It
issues monthly updates of contributions to all emergency operations, with
detailed and summary financial information, including on the Internet through
(See Annex VI for the Generic Process Timetable for a Calendar Year,
which provides a good overview of how all these procedures fit together.)
The CERF is a cash-flow mechanism, under the authority of the Emergency
Relief Coordinator and administered at the New York headquarters, to enable an
immediate response to an emergency. The CERF may be used at the very outset of a
crisis and, in exceptional cases, during later phases to assist agencies with
cash-flow problems before donor contributions are available. The mechanism
requires that agencies borrowing from the fund reimburse the amount loaned
within a specific target period, not to exceed one year.
The CERF is primarily used as funding mechanism by UN operational
agencies. OCHA is authorized to access only the interest on the fund. This
interest may, for instance, be used to help overcome delays in obtaining budget
codes when deploying cost-shared Field Security Officers, and their related
equipment, to the field.
Since its inception in 1992 up to March 1999, the fund was accessed 55 times, with a total of US$133.3 million disbursed (of which US$124.7 was reimbursed). Loans to UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP account for approximately 80% of this total. Loans to OCHA have usually been below US$500,000.
Knowing when to turn to Geneva and when to turn to New York for advice or
support on particular issues
in the field may not always be straightforward. While the reform of DHA in 1997
led to the strengthening of the Geneva-based emergency response function, the
allocation of headquarters field support responsibilities to offices on opposite
sides of the Atlantic has sometimes caused confusion. This resulted, in November
1998, in a clarification by the ERC of the division of responsibilities between
the two branches of OCHA dealing intensively and exclusively with complex
emergencies – the Complex Emergency Response Branch (CERB) in Geneva, and the
Emergency Liaison Branch (ELB) in New York.
As indicated in Chapter 2, the CERB in Geneva is the principle focal
point for day-to-day contacts with the field. The initial point of contact at
CERB will usually be with a Desk Officer within one of the regional units.
The Desk Officer should be able to provide field staff with regular,
practical advice on a wide range of issues, including day-to-day administrative
or personnel problems; strategic planning, monitoring and reporting; appeals and
the CAP, as well as donor relations.
Amongst the CERB’s specific responsibilities are supporting field
coordination through the recruitment and deployment of necessary personnel,
including their administration and servicing (in collaboration with the Finance
and Administrative Section). Also with the FAS, CERB has the task of ensuring a
quick field response on basic financial and administrative issues including
logistics and other arrangements for the field.
On strategic planning, CERB is responsible for ensuring the establishment
and smooth running of a field-based strategic planning process. This entails the
production of regular and systematized UN common action plans, and following
their execution, monitoring and evaluation.
(including, for example, the Common Humanitarian Action Plan described in
Chapter 5). Included here is providing advice on the development of contingency
plans in advance of a complex emergency, and where necessary drawing up and
executing such plans, and carrying out fact-finding and needs assessment
CERB is further responsible for drawing up and launching appeals and
other documents associated with complex emergencies, including consolidated
inter-agency appeals, mid-term reviews, and monitoring and evaluation reports.
Related to this, CERB also acts as OCHA’s main donor relations service by
mobilizing actual and potential donors for the CAP as well as for OCHA’s own
Lastly, CERB’s support of the OCHA New York Office includes supporting
IAU’s role on early warning, and providing input to policy and advocacy issues
at the Policy, Advocacy and Information Division.
The ELB is the link between the New York headquarters and Humanitarian
Coordinators serving in complex emergencies. Like the CERB, it is also divided
into two sections: Africa, and Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Desk Officers
here support the ERC and Humanitarian Coordinators on issues that have
humanitarian, political, security and military implications. Desk Officers may
be in frequent contact with the field to exchange information on such issues,
and to provide policy advice and guidance. In order for ELB to provide effective
support to the field, Desk Officers seek recommendations and advice from the
field. By channeling information through ELB to OCHA’s Advocacy and External
Relations Unit, the field also has an opportunity to raise awareness of events
taking place in the field. ELB Desk Officers should also communicate policies
and decisions of the ERC to the field, as well as those of the Security Council,
General Assembly and other relevant bodies.
Towards this end, the ELB liaises with many different entities on complex
emergencies and other issues, ensuring that humanitarian concerns are addressed.
It regularly consults with (and sometimes briefs) Secretariat Departments
(particularly DPA, DPKO and UNSECOORD); the Executive Office of the
Secretary-General; the Security Council; ECOSOC; the General Assembly; other
inter-governmental fora in New York; representatives of UN agencies, NGOs and
international organizations in New York; members of ECHA and of the Executive
Committee on Peace and Security; Permanent Missions of Member States; and the
Humanitarian Liaison Working Group (HLWG) in New York. The Branch prepares or
contributes to a wide variety of reports and briefing papers on the humanitarian
aspects of emergencies, and chairs or represents OCHA in inter-departmental and
inter-agency meetings and task forces.
In each country the primary responsibility for the security and
protection of UN staff members rests with the host government. Nevertheless it
has been necessary for the UN to put in place a system for planning and managing
security issues which is aimed at ensuring that there is a coordinated approach
toward the protection of staff.
At the headquarters level, the UN Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD) is
appointed by the Secretary-General to report directly to him and serve as his
coordinator at the New York Office. UNSECOORD is responsible for formulating
security policy and recommendations, responding to emergency situations,
coordinating inter-agency safety programs, and taking decisions relating to the
relocation/ evacuation of staff members.
OCHA/Headquarters maintains a direct
liaison with the Office of the UN Security Coordinator, in New York, in large
part to assist OCHA field staff in dialoguing with UNSECOORD on security matters
of concern. For country-specific
issues, your contact/Focal Point is Mr. Kevin Kennedy, Chief of the Emergency
Liaison Branch. For matters
regarding overall security policies and procedures, the Focal Point is the
Acting Chief of the Information Management Services Branch, Mr. Lance Clark
Also at the headquarters level, a Field Security Coordinator is appointed
by the Executive Head of each UN organization to ensure liaison between
UNSECOORD, the respective organization headquarters and its offices in the
Security coordination arrangements at the field level were described in
Chapter 3. Detailed security arrangements can be found in the Field Security
Handbook, a comprehensive policy document that applies to all persons
employed by UN organizations – except those locally recruited – consultants,
UN volunteers and UN fellows studying in the country. (Security of UN
peacekeeping missions falls under the jurisdiction of the SRSG and/ or the Force
A useful booklet is ‘Security in the Field – Information for Staff
Members of the United Nations System’, that contains information regarding
practical, common sense measures which each staff member can take to minimize
the risks he/ she may face. (This booklet should be available at each duty
station; alternatively contact OCHA New York.)
The UNDAC system, which is run by the
Geneva-based Field Coordination Support Unit (a part of the Disaster Response
Branch), has been created for natural disaster response. It may also be
exceptionally used for “sudden onset complex emergencies” -
i.e. to immediately provide teams of experienced emergency managers a
stopgap arrangement until humanitarian organizations become sufficiently
mobilized. UNDAC teams may be deployed at 12 hours notice, from a pool of more
than 130 specially trained emergency management experts who are made available
when needed by 29 countries and other participating organizations such as IFRC
or UN Agencies (including OCHA staff). UNDAC members, who come from a wide range
of professions (humanitarian, technical, medical, academic and many others),
should have emergency management experience and international experience. Whilst
these individuals are paid for by their respective governments or organizations,
OCHA runs the system and provides the necessary organization, mission equipment,
communications, and additional training and is responsible for the deployment of
The 1999 humanitarian crisis in Kosovo is a classic
example of how UNDAC may be used in response to a sudden onset complex emergency
(other than a natural disaster). In April, at the request of UNHCR (the lead UN
agency), two 3-person teams were deployed to Macedonia and Albania to assist
UNHCR for a period of three weeks until CERB found longer-term recruits with the
appropriate complex emergency background. Equipped with mobile satellite
telecommunications and essential office equipment, these teams helped to assess
humanitarian needs and coordinate relief actions.
The MCDU, also located inside the Disaster Response Branch at OCHA-Geneva,
was established by a decision of the IASC in 1995 to ensure the most efficient
use of military and civil defense assets in support of humanitarian operations.
The MCDU consults with contributing nations and organizations to maintain
up-to-date information on preparedness and response measures related to military
and civil defense support. It also acts as a focal point with interested
governments, regional organizations and military/ civil defense establishments
on preparedness measures for the exceptional use of these assets in support of
humanitarian operations, and coordinates their mobilization when needed. The
MCDU maintains a database on resources, ranging from cargo aircraft, field
hospitals and field catering units to nuclear, biological and chemical detection
Whilst the MCDU is mostly used for natural disaster response, it may also
be used in complex emergencies when requested by the Resident/ Humanitarian
Coordinator or UNDP. Like UNDAC, MCDU was called upon to assist with the
humanitarian response to the crisis in Kosovo. MCDU helped to set up an air
coordination cell at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, staffed by air traffic
controllers from NATO countries and logistics specialists from the UN system. It
also mobilized cargo aircraft with relief items from Pisa in Italy (see below)
to Macedonia and Albania, as well as trucks for various UN agencies. The MCDU
also provided portable storage tents (Rubhalls) and mobile kitchens.
Pisa Warehouse - OCHA, in cooperation with WHO, WFP and the governments
of Italy, Japan, Luxembourg and Norway, maintains stocks of various relief items
in its warehouse in Pisa, Italy. Supplies can be dispatched to the field either
as a bilateral donation, or through the UN, on behalf of WHO or WFP, or at the
request of the UN Disaster Management Team to help fill critical relief gaps.
In terms of logistical support for relief missions, the Field
Coordination Support Unit has established the Five-Partite Cooperation agreement
with the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the UK, for access
to field coordination support resources. Such resources include specially
equipped field vehicles, telecommunications equipment and administrative
support, as well as specialist staff to help install and maintain such
equipment. Although these standby-resources are primarily for use by UNDAC teams
in natural disasters, they may be accessed on an informal basis by OCHA in the
event of large-scale emergencies.
Emergency Telecommunications Unit – In OCHA Geneva, there is an
Emergency Telecommunications Unit within the Disaster Response Branch.
Although the Branch focuses on natural disasters, the Emergency
Telecommunications Unit can also support response to complex emergencies.
Questions regarding agreements with host countries on use of
telecommunications resources can be addressed to this Unit.
There are conventions and resolutions which call upon member states and
other entities to facilitate the use of telecommunications resources for
humanitarian assistance (Tampere Convention) and, in particular, for the safety
and security of humanitarian personnel (ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, 1998,
Resolution COM 5/18). Further
information on this subject can also be retrieved from Reliefweb at http://www.reliefweb.int/telecom.
The humanitarian challenge of safeguarding the welfare of civilian victims and of aid workers in an environment where they are made deliberate targets has become ever more daunting. There is however still no clear understanding of how international aid strategies can be designed that promote compliance with humanitarian principles, especially during armed conflict. At the headquarters level, OCHA is seeking to address this problem by working with partner agencies (on the IASC) to find ways to operationalize humanitarian principles, and to develop country-specific ground rules covering issues such as access, security and interaction with local/ national authorities. At the same time OCHA advocates for greater respect for humanitarian norms and principles, drawing attention to specific humanitarian issues such as those described below. These collaborative efforts between OCHA and its partner humanitarian organizations are targeted not only at UN Member States and the UN political organs (such as the Security Council), but also at the media and civil society in general, including NGOs and academia.
Until such guidelines, field practices and practical advocacy strategies
are formulated however, OCHA humanitarian staff in the field may often be
obliged to respond to “humanitarian dilemmas” on a somewhat ad
Outlined here are some of the major policy issues on which OCHA and its
humanitarian partners are working toward the formulation of practical field
strategies, in terms of how to respond when the principles are disregarded. In
the context of these policy issues, examples are given wherever possible of
successful strategies that have been employed by individual OCHA Field
Coordination Units. References are also made to relevant documents for more
detailed information.[See Annex VII for ‘Further Reading’, or contact
OCHA’s Policy Development Unit at New York headquarters for further
information: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org].
This overriding issue, which encompasses various others, represents
perhaps the biggest and as yet unresolved problem for humanitarian workers in
The most common breaches of international legal instruments in this
domain include systematic attacks against the civilian population; forced
displacement of civilians, creating internally
displaced persons and refugees; combatants and armed elements mixed with
civilians in refugee and IDP camps; the conscription of children; the denial of
humanitarian access and humanitarian assistance; and the targeting of
humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel. Recent examples of such breaches
abound, from the ethnic cleansing and systematic killing of civilians in the
1992-95 Bosnian war, to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, to the ongoing killing,
mutilation and forced conscription of civilians (including children) in Sierra
Leone, and the recent ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians from the Yugoslav
province of Kosovo.
Ongoing international efforts are aimed at strengthening the protection
of civilians through political support for legal and (most importantly) physical
protection measures. At the beginning of 1999 the Head of OCHA (in his capacity
of Under-Secretary-General) urgently requested the Security Council “to
examine practical ways in which we can ensure greater levels of protection for
civilians in armed conflict, which is of direct relevance to the Council’s
core responsibilities.” In response, the Security Council requested the
Secretary-General to submit a report containing concrete recommendations
to the Council by September 1999 on ways the Council could improve the physical
and legal protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict. This report
is expected to consider enforcement measures such as the use of targeted
sanctions and the deployment of international and regional peacekeepers, as well
as civilian police.
Prior to the launch of the report, and in connection with the 50th
anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, OCHA’s Advocacy and External Relations
Unit (AERU) embarked on a wide-reaching advocacy campaign in order to raise
awareness and support for the key issues, and then to lobby for political and
public support towards realizing the measures recommended in it. (Contact AERU
in New York for further information on the campaign activities).
Humanitarian Action and Human Rights
Clearly then, the task of translating international laws into
field-oriented and practical tools for the protection of civilians on the ground
is an urgent one. Humanitarian staff in the field should not only be able to
identify violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, but
should also know how to respond.
As step one in this process, OCHA produced, in 1999, an ‘Easy
Reference’ booklet on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights,
intended primarily for humanitarian personnel working in situations of internal
However, simply being able to identify which legal instruments are being
breached in a particular situation is not sufficient to ensure the protection of
civilians. As a follow-up therefore, OCHA is working toward the development of ‘Field
Practices on International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Refugee Law for
use by humanitarian personnel’. This aims to enable humanitarian personnel
to respond in a practical and effective manner to issues such as the denial of
humanitarian assistance to populations in need, or the forced displacement of
civilians, to name just two examples. This document should be completed and
available for use in the field by early 2000. (Contact the OCHA Policy
Development Unit in New York for further information on both these documents).
For example: The denial of humanitarian assistance to populations in need (where the State authorities are not providing assistance) is clearly a violation of international law, under which States are obliged to ensure that all those in need receive assistance - regardless of whether those populations are located in areas outside the government’s control.
In both Angola and Sierra Leone, the promotion of child vaccination
campaigns as a strategy to gain access to “rebel-held areas” are being
explored by OCHA and its partner humanitarian organizations. In the Democratic
Republic of Congo, OCHA helped establish an agreement (in principle at least) by
both sides to the conflict for ‘Days of Tranquility’ in order to facilitate
a WHO/ UNICEF polio vaccination campaign. An earlier example from Angola is
provided by a former OCHA official:
In the words of the Emergency Relief Coordinator in June 1998, “Again
this is an issue where much has been said and written, many conferences held,
but where at the field level drastic improvements are still required”. That
said, improving the provision of protection and assistance to Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) continues to be one of OCHA’s top priorities. (Under
an IASC decision, the ERC is the designated focal point at headquarters level
for the inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance to IDPs, for which
no single agency has a comprehensive mandate, whilst the IASC Working Group is
the forum for consultations on all matters concerning internal displacement)
In 1998 the Representative of the Secretary-General on IDPs, Mr. Francis
Deng, finalized the ‘Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’
(subsequently endorsed by the IASC). These principles identify rights and
guarantees relevant to the protection of persons from forced displacement and to
their protection and assistance during displacement, as well as during return or
resettlement and reintegration. Their aim is to provide practical guidance to
governments, other competent authorities, inter-governmental organizations and
NGOs in their work with IDPs.
OCHA’s focus now is to promote the application of these principles, and
also on implementing existing IASC decisions on determining a division of labor
at the field level for dealing with assistance and protection needs for IDPs on
a case-by-case basis. The Field Practice Manual on Internal Displacement,
compiled by UNICEF, OCHA and HCHR and subsequently endorsed by the IASC Working
Group in April 1999, offers numerous examples of field programs supporting IDPs.
Also in April 1999, OCHA recruited a senior staff member to provide practical
leadership in this area and ensure effective cooperation with relevant partners.
At the field level, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator is, in full
consultation with the inter-agency country team, responsible for the strategic
coordination of assistance to IDPs. This
responsibility includes addressing humanitarian requirements before, during and
after an emergency, serving as an advocate for assistance and protection, as
well as recommending to the ERC a division of responsibility among agencies.
The work of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator on behalf of the
internally displaced is carried out in close collaboration with responsible
government authorities, local and international NGOs, international
organizations, and other relevant actors.
One example of a practical, OCHA-led initiative regarding the provision
of assistance to IDPs was in Sierra Leone at the beginning 1996:
In January 1999 the Convention on the Safety of United Nations personnel
came into force. However the Convention applies only to personnel serving in
operations specifically authorized by the General Assembly or the Security
Council and is only binding on States parties, and is therefore inapplicable to
most of the situations in which humanitarian personnel work. Whilst advocating
for the ratification of the Convention, OCHA is also urging for it to be
extended to cover all situations in which UN and associated personnel, including
national staff, are deployed, and of insuring its implementation by non-State
One example of practical advocacy in the field is provided by OCHA in
This aims to develop a principled, unitary and coherent approach by the
UN system as a whole in its response to crises, in order to facilitate conflict
resolution and peace building. It covers the UN’s political, human rights,
humanitarian and development activities in countries in, or emerging from,
One initiative aimed at achieving this is the concept of ‘Strategic
Frameworks’. This comprises a political strategy and the field-based
arrangements for a common international assistance strategy (applicable to the
entire range of the UN’s activities in a particular country and, ideally, the
activities of all external actors). This was first adopted in Afghanistan in
1998, where it enabled all the concerned partners – UN, donors, NGOs, Afghans
– to work together more effectively on the basis of agreed principles and
objectives. A Strategic Framework was subsequently
planned for Sierra Leone – principally because, like Afghanistan, it is a
country where the UN assumed a major leadership role in conflict resolution and
peacebuilding efforts, and where the normal mechanisms (such as Round Table or
Consultative Group) for interaction between the country and the international
community were inoperative.
The Strategic Framework approach is also consistent with the
‘Principles Project’, coordinated by OCHA , that aims to produce ‘Common
UN Ground Rules’.
OCHA’s goal in this area is to “link relief to development within a
coherent context aimed at promoting sustainable peace”. Operational agencies such as
UNHCR and WFP often encounter problems in this transitional period, when they
may be required to phase out their assistance (often due to limited financial
resources), but are unable to do so because there is no-one to hand over to.
OCHA’s policy objectives aimed at alleviating this problem include
improving the links between the Consolidated Appeals Process and the UN
Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF); improving inter-agency resource
mobilization during transitional situations; developing system-wide policy and
operational steps on reintegration; and ensuring the effective participation of
the World Bank in coordination arrangements.
Yet despite all the policy initiatives, and the numerous workshops and
conferences, practical measures are still thin on the ground, and it is widely
agreed that progress in the field has been slow.
Whilst it is the responsibility of the Secretary-General’s Special
Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women to ensure the
incorporation of gender perspectives into all UN programs, OCHA’s role is to
ensure that a gender perspective is introduced into humanitarian action. In
recognition of the importance of this issue, in 1998 OCHA created focal points
for gender issues in both New York and Geneva. At the same time the IASC
Sub-Working Group on Gender and Humanitarian Assistance issued a policy
statement that identified four priority areas where gender needs to be
mainstreamed by OCHA and its IASC member partners: assessment and strategic
planning for humanitarian crises; the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP); a
principled approach to complex emergencies; and the involvement of women in the
planning, designing and monitoring of all aspects of emergency programs.
In the case of Afghanistan, the issue of gender has already been
integrated into the CAP, and a Gender Adviser has been deployed to the region to
advise UN agencies on how to actively incorporate gender issues into
humanitarian assistance programs.
OCHA cooperates closely with the Secretary-General’s Special
Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts (SRSG/CAC), currently Mr. Olara
Otunnu, as well as with UNICEF, especially in the areas of policy development
and advocacy (on such issues as forced conscription and small arms).
Furthermore, OCHA facilitates dialogue between the SRSG/ CAC and the
humanitarian community, taking advantage of the fora such as the IASC, ECHA and
OCHA’s monthly meetings with NGOs. OCHA also supports field missions by the
OCHA has been particularly involved in the development of new approaches
to sanctions regimes, aimed at exerting pressure on targeted governments whilst
minimizing the humanitarian consequences of the regimes on civilian populations.
One reason for this has been the serious difficulties faced by humanitarian
agencies in recent years in providing emergency relief assistance under
sanctions regimes, such as in Iraq, Haiti and Former Yugoslavia. These
difficulties prompted the IASC to request OCHA (then DHA) to develop a
methodology to assess the humanitarian impact of sanctions and to facilitate the
processing of humanitarian exemptions. Various studies have been undertaken
towards developing such a methodology (see ‘Further Reading’ in Annex VII).
Secondly, the General Assembly decided (in resolution 51/242 of 1997)
that OCHA should play a coordinating role in organizing and conducting
assessments of humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities at the time of the
imposition of sanctions, and regularly thereafter while sanctions are being
implemented. It considered that information on the potential or actual
humanitarian impact of sanctions should be brought immediately to the attention
of the Security Council. It further decided that guidelines for the exemption of
humanitarian goods should be developed to ensure that applications are quickly
Lastly, the UN Security Council twice requested assessments from OCHA
before deciding on the modalities of a sanctions regime (i.e. in the case of the
proposed UN flight ban against Sudan) and during the imposition of a sanctions
regime (i.e. in the case of the UN sanctions and ECOWAS embargo against Sierra
Leone). Regional embargoes supported by the Security Council – as in the case
of Sierra Leone, and Burundi – have at times hampered the delivery of critical
humanitarian assistance by UN agencies and international NGOs. The role of the
Security Council in providing support to humanitarian exemptions mechanisms
under regional sanctions regimes is therefore vital, as well as ensuring that
standards and procedures applied to UN sanctions regimes are respected.
“Protected areas” established by order of the Security Council have
in the past been of two types: “safe zones” which are meant to protect the
threatened population where it normally lives (e.g. for the Kurds in northern
Iraq in 1991, and in southwestern Rwanda in 1994); and “safe havens” which
are meant to protect displaced populations so that victims can flee their homes
without fleeing their county (as in Srebenica in 1993). There has been a lot of
debate about the value (or otherwise) of such “protected” areas as an
instrument for the protection and assistance of civilians, and how this might be
developed. In February 1999 OCHA participated in an Inter-Agency Expert
Consultation on Protected Areas in order to develop practical guidelines for
endorsement by the IASC. There it was agreed that a clear distinction should be
made between non-consensual “security zones” established by the Security
Council, and “humanitarian zones” established upon (temporary) consensus of
the conflicting parties. It was further recommended that the establishment of a
security zone by the Security Council should be a last resort, where respect for
international humanitarian law has broken down or is non-existent. A clear
mandate would then by required by the Council enabling the deployment of
military force to protect civilians in an adverse environment. Inside such a
security zone, particular attention should be given to issues of humanitarian
access (e.g. secure corridors), registration of protected persons, the
establishment of a regime of principles, and cooperation with the internal
administration of the zone (i.e. military and police forces)
Researchers have stated that in 46 out of the 49 conflicts that have
broken out since 1990, light weapons were the only arms used. Humanitarian
agencies have therefore become increasingly concerned with the high levels of
civilian death and injury resulting from the proliferation of small arms and
light weapons in many conflict areas throughout the world, as well as with the
negative consequences on their own work and security. At present however there
is little data on the humanitarian impact of small arms proliferation, and
focussed research has yet to be conducted.
In view of this the IASC Working Group Reference Group on Small Arms (RGSA)
was established at the beginning of 1999, with the participation of OCHA,
UNICEF, UNDP, ICRC and SCHR. The group’s immediate objective is to assemble
relevant data to be used for developing case studies in selected countries in
Africa, Asia and Latin America. Such studies may illustrate the extent of the
negative humanitarian impact of small arms and light weapons over a period of
time – before, during and post conflict. The group’s overall aim is to
support any move to reduce the uncontrolled and excessive accumulation and
transfer of small arms and light weapons, in part by raising public and
organizational awareness of these humanitarian implications through joint
advocacy efforts. The group also supports the UN’s mechanism for Coordinating
Action on Small Arms (CASA) (see Annex VII for ‘Further Reading’).
As part of the 1997 reform program, the Secretary-General decided that
operational aspects of mine action work would be transferred from OCHA to DPKO.
Subsequently the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) was established as the focal
point within the UN system for all mine-related activities. OCHA meanwhile is
responsible for sharing all relevant information with UNMAS and other partners
on the humanitarian implications of landmines, and to ensure that humanitarian
needs are met as a fundamental part of the overall humanitarian effort. OCHA
also works closely with UNMAS on resource mobilization in its capacity as
manager of the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF), and coordinator of the
Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP).
In addition, OCHA Field Coordination Units monitor developments
in-country related to the laying of landmines. Mine activities are considered to
be primarily a humanitarian issue in so far as they affect the delivery of
assistance to beneficiaries, and prevent IDPs and refugees returning to their
OCHA further supports UNMAS and other relevant bodies in advocating for a
global ban on landmines.
Key OCHA information resources are ReliefWeb and the Integrated Regional
Information Network (IRIN) - separate but complementary and mutually reinforcing
information systems. These can be used to provide fast, accurate and relevant
information on complex emergencies or natural disasters to the international
community as a whole, and as a useful information resource for OCHA field staff
themselves. In addition, linked to ReliefWeb is OCHA On-Line, OCHA’s home web
site that provides information specific to OCHA and its work.
Since its launch in 1996, ReliefWeb has been acknowledged as a principal
on-line source of information on humanitarian emergencies. ReliefWeb supplies
information collected from more than 300 sources, including OCHA, IRIN, other UN
agencies, international organizations, governments, NGOs, academia/ research
organizations and the media. The Web has users in more than 150 countries –
predominantly from within the international humanitarian community – who
access more than 300,000 documents each month. Together, the two ReliefWeb
offices in New York and Geneva provide time-critical coverage of global
emergencies from 08.00 to 24.00 hours GMT.
From the perspective of new OCHA field staff, ReliefWeb can provide very
useful orientation – especially in the absence of a formal briefing before
departure. Perhaps its most valuable resources are situation reports, emergency
bulletins and news about current disasters and humanitarian crises. With regard
to complex emergencies, countries/ regions are listed alphabetically.
Information can then be accessed by source (e.g. a particular NGO’s report),
by format (such as analysis or field reports), or by month/ year. These
documents include OCHA’s own situation reports from the field.
Analytical/ background information is provided on each country/ complex
emergency, through links to other web sites. Also useful, and popular, are
documents dealing with humanitarian organization activities, such as emergency
appeals, project descriptions and press releases.
Map Center –
Automatic links are provided to a catalogue of maps relating to emergencies in
particular regions and countries covered by ReliefWeb. A GIS specialist based in
New York is currently developing improved reference maps displaying humanitarian
information, such as location and movement of displaced persons.
– This database, managed by CERB in Geneva, charts pledges and contributions
to the Consolidated Inter-Agency appeals.
1) Humanitarian Vacancies: employment opportunities in both UN and non-UN agencies.
2) Library: reference
documents on humanitarian topics.
3) Early Warning: a directory of web sites maintained by various organizations devoted to early warning (e.g. on El Nino).
4) Register of Disaster Management Capacities: provide links to information on stockpiles of emergency relief items, customs contact points and rosters of expertise for disaster management.
Telecommunications: related to the activities of the Working Group established
to look at this issue.
6) Directory of
Organizations: listings of approximately 300 humanitarian organizations.
7) Humanitarian Assistance
Training Inventory: information on workshops, conferences etc.
8) Related Sites: a
directory of web sites maintained by other humanitarian organizations.
9) Search Engine –
ReliefWeb has both a simple and an advanced search engine.
This is OCHA’s home web site (which can be accessed from ReliefWeb). It
includes information specific to OCHA (mandate, structure, contact information
etc), news from headquarters and field offices (newsletters, press releases and
official statements), and policy and advocacy position papers (publications,
speeches and IASC materials). The weekly ‘OCHA News’, widely distributed as
hard copy, is also available on this web site under ‘publications’.
The broad objective of IRIN is to foster greater awareness and
understanding of regional issues and events, to contribute to better-informed
and more effective humanitarian action and media coverage, including emergency
preparedness and advocacy. Established in 1995, it initially concentrated on the
crisis in the Great Lakes from its base in Nairobi, but later expanded to
provide in-depth coverage of events in East, Central, Southern and West Africa
(from additional offices in Johannesburg and Abidjan). Depending upon financial
support, in 1999 OCHA will establish a similar network in Central Asia, the
Caucasus and Southern Balkans to monitor and report on events in the region
(from a central office in Turkey).
IRIN produces updates, analyses and alerts that cover a wide range of
political, economic and social issues pertinent to humanitarian work - from a
regional perspective. The information is drawn from (and provided to) an
extensive network including UN agencies, NGOs and international organizations,
national authorities, donors, human rights organizations, political parties,
regional institutions, churches, academia, businesses and the media.
In addition to producing their own daily, weekly, and special reports,
IRIN disseminates publications from UN agencies, local and international NGOs,
the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the OAU, governments, academia and
others. Reports produced by OCHA Field Coordination Units may also be
IRIN’s reports and documents are distributed to its subscribers by
e-mail and fax. Since April 1999, IRIN material can also be accessed via the
IRIN web site (www.reliefweb.int/IRIN).
As of mid 1999, IRIN had a subscription base of almost 6,000 and an estimated
daily readership of some 20,000 people in approximately 40 countries. NGOs and
UN agencies each account for a quarter of the direct subscribers (divided
roughly equally between Africa, Europe and North America).
IRIN is an important information resource, as it provides up-to-date, value-added information and analysis on events in sub-Saharan Africa.
The IRIN web site is also a useful research tool, as it contains an archive of all IRIN documents. Specific information may be located through IRIN’s search engines.
IRIN also functions as an information clearing house, in that IRIN Information Officers sift through thousands of messages and news items each day. On the basis of this daily reports are issued, which in 2-3 pages provide a concise overview of events.
Subscribers to IRIN may define their user profiles according to their particular fields of interest, and thereby receive custom-made news to fit their requirements.
Depending on the location of their duty station, it may be beneficial for new OCHA field personnel to visit an IRIN office for briefing on the particular country/ region.
Central and Eastern Africa: Tel: +254 2
Fax: +254 2 622129
West Africa: Tel: +225 21 73 54,
Fax: +225 21 63 35
Southern Africa: Tel: +27 11 880 4633
Fax: +27 11 880 1421
IRIN Internet Site:
http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/(Subscription to IRIN can be done on
The following principles – that reflect both the UN Secretariat media
policy and standard practice – may be used for guidance:
OCHA Field Coordination Units (FCUs) should reflect the overall UN policy
of being open and transparent in its dealings with the press. It is in the
interest of OCHA, and the UN as a whole, to provide the media with timely and
accurate information. As journalists are pressured by their deadlines, a slow or
unhelpful response can be damaging to the organization.
Following the overall UN policy on transparency in dealings with the
media, OCHA’s Advocacy & External Relations Unit (AERU) in New York serves
as a source of information for FCUs on priority advocacy themes and
opportunities, including possible public information activities that may be
carried out at both field and headquarters. AERU also provides the media with
information on major issues of concern for the humanitarian community in complex
emergencies and countries affected by natural disasters. For this purpose, AERU
provides the Office of the Spokesman of the Secretary-General with notes on
major humanitarian developments, produces statements by the
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs or the Secretary-General,
schedules interviews for senior OCHA officials and Humanitarian Coordinators
visiting headquarters, encourages journalists to contact FCUs and produces OCHA
News, a weekly newsletter covering major developments and issues both in the
field and at headquarters.
The principal voice of OCHA in the field is the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/ HC), based in the capital city or main duty station. Most FCUs also have a designated Information Officer who speaks on behalf of the RC/ HC. In addition, the RC/ HC may authorize other OCHA staff to speak on his/ her behalf – either at the same duty station or at provincial field offices. Such authorization may be general, or on specific issues or events only. Thus, interviews with the press, and any questions on sensitive issues, must be referred to the RC/ HC or his/ her designated spokesperson(s).
In countries or regions where there is a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) there should be a clear division between the spokesperson on peacekeeping/ political affairs and the spokesperson on humanitarian affairs. Clarification on who is authorized to speak to the press should nevertheless be given by the Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator to his/ her staff in-country.
Information regarding the safety of UN staff – for example in an emergency situation – should be handled by the UN Designated Official for Security.
Any OCHA field staff who are authorized to speak to the press (as above) should keep the RC/ HC and/ or the Information Officer fully informed of what was said. In the case of press statements being released or press conferences/ briefings being held, the Advocacy and External Relations Unit in New York should be kept informed. This will help provide headquarters with an indication of the issues that the media is interested in, and ultimately help to attract international media attention.
How to speak to the Press
Those OCHA field staff authorized to speak to the press should:
speak only on
humanitarian issues, not political or security issues
speak only within their
area of competence and responsibility
provide facts, not
opinions or comment
leave sensitive issues to
officials who are specifically authorized to speak on them
speaking on sensitive issues, knowing the journalist’s particular interest in
a story can be useful. Furthermore, it may sometimes be necessary for OCHA
to keep certain issues confidential
– for example to protect a diplomatic process – in which case it is
important to clarify at the outset the parameters of issues that may be
field staff do speak to journalists, it should normally be done on the record -
that is, for attribution. Sometimes, though, officials specifically authorized
to address sensitive issues can give a journalist a deeper understanding of an
issue by speaking on background. However, it is very important that the
journalist know on which of the following bases the conversation is being
On the record: “ everything I say can be attributed to me by name”
Not for attribution (on background): “don’t attribute this to me by
name, but rather to a UN official”
On deep background: “use my ideas but not my words; don’t attribute
staff speaking to the press should not feel that they have to answer every
question, in particular any hypothetical ones.
As part of
its coordination role, OCHA should – where appropriate – refer journalists
to other sources of information (for example to operational UN agencies or NGOs
in relation to specific programs).
unwise, and may sometimes be unethical, to tell one journalist what another is
working on, or to suggest that one journalist discuss a pending story with
9. Administrative Matters
Administrative matters are often cited as the biggest source of
frustration for OCHA staff in the field – in particular questions regarding
contracts, entitlements etc. Often, not knowing whom to ask for advice, or who
is responsible or accountable for various administrative matters is at the heart
of the problem.
Instead of attempting to give a comprehensive description of
administrative procedures however, which is beyond the scope of this handbook,
provided here are some of the most frequently asked questions posed by OCHA
staff members in the field (as compiled by the OCHA office in Geneva, UNOG, in
March 1999). This is not a definitive guide. A detailed Administrative Manual is
however being prepared by UNOG, which is expected to be ready for distribution
to the field by summer 1999.
The first point of contact will always be the Country Desk Officer at
OCHA Geneva. If there is a problem, the Desk Officer will either obtain suitable
clarification from the Finance and Administration Section (FAS) or put you in
touch with the person concerned in FAS.
In respect of contractual questions for field staff, the UN Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provides the interpretation of the applicable
Who issues my contract?
Contracts are issued on behalf of OCHA by the Personnel Section of UNCTAD.
The initial documentation is prepared by OCHA before submission for approval to
the Budget Section of UNOG and then to UNCTAD.
OCHA provides UNCTAD with your Personal History Form, the Terms of
Reference of the post (i.e. the job responsibilities) and a recommendation for
the grading. UNCTAD independently reviews the qualifications against the Terms
of Reference and against its standards based on similar positions throughout the
world, and then makes an offer to you. The grade of the post that you are set
against does not necessarily mean that you will be given the same grade.
OCHA field expenses are extra-budgetary, therefore your contract will
cover the maximum length possible under the funds allocated. If you are
recruited in the second half of the year, the contract will normally only be
issued through to 31 December. Given the approval of further funds, the contract
will be renewed into the next year.
This is the type of contract initially given to staff members. Once a
short-term contract has been extended to 12 months, an intermediate term
contract is given. For example if your initial contract is 3 months, your first
renewal is for 6 months and after the second renewal of 6 months you will have
an intermediate term contract. If your initial contract is 6 months, after your
first renewal (for 6 months), you will have an intermediate term contract.
The different types of contract give you different benefits and
entitlements (see Section 5 for details).
Salaries are paid through the UN Office in Geneva to the account
nominated, and your payslips are forwarded through the pouch system to you at
your duty station.
You can split the payment of your salary so that a portion is paid into
an account not at your duty station. The form is available on request.
Unfortunately the pay-slips provided sometimes do not give a clear
indication of payments made. If you have problems with the pay-slip, please
forward a request to OCHA Geneva where they will try to clear it up with the
Once a year the Payroll Unit prepares a statement of payments made to
each staff member. On the basis of this statement the staff member prepares
his/her own IRS return. Detailed information on the procedure is available from
the Payroll Unit.
you join OCHA you will be given a contract. Upon appointment UNCTAD will arrange
for a travel authorization to be issued, and a Carlson Wagonlit Agent near your
place of recruitment will contact you to provide you with an air ticket. Do NOT
travel without a signed contract.
This depends upon the length and status of your contract. You may be
entitled to take with you 10 kg of belongings as excess luggage, and 1,000 kg
unaccompanied luggage by surface or 500 kg by air, if you have a contract of at
least one year.
The type of allowance paid by the UN depends upon your marital status and
the length of your contract.
If you have a short-term contract, you will be paid a Daily Subsistence
Allowance (DSA) applicable to your duty station, which is determined by the UN
and is subject to change without prior notice. This is paid locally.
For the first 60 days you will receive DSA at the full rate, after which
you will receive 75% of the amount for the next 60 days. After 120 days from
commencement of employment the amount is reduced to 60% of the DSA rate, up to
the point where your contract is changed to intermediate term.
If you are posted in a hazardous duty station, you will receive Hazardous
Duty Allowance (HDA) for every day that you spend there.
Your salary will be paid at the single rate, even if you are married.
This will change when your contract is converted to an intermediate contract.
You are entitled to a salary at the dependants’ rate if you are married
(if your spouse does not work); to dependency allowance if you have children;
and to post-adjustment at the rate applicable at your duty station, instead of
You will receive an assignment grant that is equivalent to one month’s
salary including post-adjustment, and one month’s DSA at your duty station.
If OCHA moves you from one duty station to another for a period of more
than one year, you are entitled to an assignment grant to cover expenses,
calculated as one month’s salary including post-adjustment, plus 30 days of
DSA at the new duty station.
If you are posted in a Hazardous Duty Station, you will continue to
You are also eligible for home leave, family visit, education allowances,
and extended monthly evacuation allowance (see below).
The UN will pay for you and your family (if they are with you) to return
to your place of recruitment/ home country, depending upon your contractual
status and duty station.
Normally, you are entitled to one home leave for every two years of
service. At a hazardous duty station, you are entitled to home leave every year.
This is dependent upon you having a contract valid for a period of six months
after your return. You must spend a minimum of two weeks in the home leave
If your duty station is in one country and your family is another, you
are entitled to take them on home leave as well.
You should seek the approval of OCHA Geneva, through the Country Desk
Officer, for the period of leave by sending a request in advance. This will be
forwarded to UNCTAD to determine eligibility and, if they concur, a Travel
Authorization will be issued.
The UN will pay for your return to your place of recruitment or home
country, depending upon your contractual status and your duty station, to visit
your immediate family if they are not at your duty station. Alternatively you
may claim for your spouse to visit you at your duty station.
Normally, you are entitled to one family visit for every two years of
service. At a hazardous duty station you are entitled to one family visit every
year. This is dependent upon you having a contract valid for a period of 6
months after the visit and also upon your not having been on home leave within
the previous 9 months.
You should seek the approval of OCHA Geneva by sending a request to the
Country Desk Officer in advance. This will be forwarded to UNCTAD to determine
eligibility, and if they concur a Travel Authorization will be issued.
Under certain circumstances the UN will meet a proportion of the costs
you incur towards the education of your children.
This is a complex area: you should complete the appropriate form and
forward it to the Country Desk Officer at OCHA Geneva who will forward it to
UNCTAD for processing.
It is the allowance paid if you are stationed in a non-family duty
station, towards the cost of maintaining two domiciles, as your family cannot be
It is dependent upon the place of residence of your family, and
calculated as a percentage of your salary. It is normally paid at quarterly
For Home Leave, Family Visit and Travel to Duty Station you will be
issued with travel authorization, commonly referred to as a PT8 (the form
number). You should not normally undertake any travel without a PT8 (or copy),
or at the least without written authorization quoting a PT8 number. It is in the
interest of your safety that you have a PT8 with you.
For international travel a PT8 is issued in Geneva and a copy transmitted
to your duty station. The original is normally sent via the pouch and this
should be returned with your travel claim.
After your travel you should always submit a claim (Form F10), as you are
normally entitled at least to the terminal allowances (airport taxes are also
reimbursable). The terminal allowances cover costs relating to travel to and
from the airport and your destination. This is a lump sum payment to cover all
costs incurred by the staff member
For early reimbursement, the completed F10 and original PT8 (if you have
it) should be returned to the Finance and Administration Section of OCHA Geneva
as soon as possible. It will then be forwarded for certification and processing
by UNOG (this can take up to 3 months).
Do not forget to enter your bank details on the F10 form.
For travel inside the country of your duty station, a PT8 will be raised
and settled by the local UNDP office. The DSA and HDA payments will be adjusted
depending upon your contractual status and duty station.
is an existing policy for UN staff members serving in specific duty stations
under conditions of severe stress, danger, hardship and/or isolation to take a
regular period of time-off away from the so designated duty station.
There are only 6 duty stations that are currently eligible for ORB:
Angola, Northern Iraq,
Democratic Rep. Of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and the Balkans.
Duty stations might be added to this list after a request for inclusion
is made. Each decision is made on a case by case basis.
Duty stations within the list are reviewed periodically, to ascertain
whether the conditions of service remain the same.
a staff member serving in one of the aforementioned duty stations works for 10
additional days (over and above
normal working hours) in three months, he/she is entitled to five days of ORB
and 2 days maximum travel time at his/her own expense.
The staff member can elect to go anywhere. ORB cannot be accumulated or
carried forward from one 3-month block to the next. It must be taken shortly after it has been earned.
task force comprising representatives of the operational agencies and the UN
secretariat is currently reviewing the divergent policies on rest and
recuperation, with a view to agreeing on one common policy for all.
However, until such an agreement is reached, be aware that the
entitlements you have regarding Rest (or breaks) are the entitlements that all
UN Secretariat staff have. Other operational agencies may have slightly
different entitlements for their staff.
Orientation Handbook attempts to provide all the basic information considered
necessary for OCHA field staff to be effective.
However, each field location is unique, with its own set of opportunities
and constraints. When confronted
with a problem or crisis in the field, OCHA staff will often have to use their
judgment on how to resolve things in that particular situation – sometimes
without time for recourse to their boss for policy advice or guidance.
is therefore important to continue the orientation process after arrival at the
Duty Station. It may be useful, as
part of this orientation in the field, to review the table of contents of this
handbook with more senior colleagues to identify and discuss those issues that
are most relevant for your particular location.
stimulate thinking on practical applications of the material presented in this
handbook, here are some examples of the kinds of real-life situations for new
field staff to consider and discuss with more senior colleagues:
You work in a rebel-held
area as the OCHA representative. You’ve spent months convincing a rebel group
that aid is provided for humane reasons, based on need. Aid agencies, you’ve
asserted, are not involved in politics. They are interested only in getting
emergency relief to civilians in need. An aircraft arrives with supplies for an
aid agency. One of the boxes breaks open while being unloaded and bedding for
the aid agency’s staff spills out. The sheets and pillowcases have images of
the country’s president (who is the rebel group’s archenemy) on them. The
rebel leader happens to be at the airport and one of his cohorts sees the
bedding and confiscates it. The rebel group call you (because you are the
‘coordinator’) to explain the situation.
Your radio operator is
arrested by the local ‘secret service’. You know where he is being held.
What do you do?
You head the OCHA office
in the capital of country X and are negotiating access to a secessionist zone.
The government has given you the go-ahead to visit the zone and you’re about
to have your first meeting with the secessionist zone’s leader. The day before
you travel, an embassy with good intelligence tells you that your mission has
been targeted and that going to the secessionist zone ‘could be bad for your
health’. What do you do?
UN peacekeepers are
starting to distribute aid to populations in areas that they patrol because they
‘look hungry and ask us to help’. Aid agencies have just carried out
extensive assessments in the same areas that showed no signs of food insecurity.
The peacekeepers acknowledge that they have no humanitarian mandate but believe
that their mission would be in peril if they do not continue with their
distributions. As the OCHA field adviser, how do you address the situation?
A rebel group tells you
that an aid worker is in fact a spy from a prominent country. What do you do?
The SRSG has asked the
humanitarian coordinator to ‘get agencies to provide aid in zone x’ because
it will help the peace process. You’re the field representative in zone x and
know that there are no humanitarian needs in zone x; in fact there are no
civilians living there. What’s your recommendation to the humanitarian
You’re accompanying an
NGO to a village on the frontline and you reach a checkpoint. The very young
soldiers point their AK-47s at you and demand 500kg of wheat. (500kg are half a
ton, or put another way, ‘only ten bags’.) Negotiate your way through the
checkpoint without handing over any food.
The government in the
country where you work agrees to your request for access to a ‘grey area near
the frontline’ but insists on providing an armed convoy. Think about your
different options and hold a discussion with your counterpart.
similar to the ones worn by the enemy’s police, arrive in a WFP truck convoy.
The drivers tell you that they are for you. You know nothing about this. As they
lie in your office, the local police chief, who is visiting you on a different
matter, sees them and recognizes them as ‘enemy equipment’. What do you say?
You are the OCHA
representative in a town where malnutrition is extremely serious. (20% of the
children under five are below 70% weight for height.) Six NGOs are distributing
food to 200,000 civilians and three further NGOs are running feeding centers for
children. An international NGO
involved in food distributions tell you that ‘local thugs’ visited 38
households the night after a food distribution and ‘taxed’ the food. The
head of one household refused to pay the ‘tax’ and was shot dead. The NGO
wants your advice on what to do. It is especially urgent, as more food is
supposed to be distributed today. What possible courses of action could you
recommend that agency or agencies take?
You are sent to a
designated hazardous duty station. Once there, you realize that staff of UN
agencies are entitled to Rest and Recuperation leave every 6-8 weeks, but OCHA
staff appear not to be entitled to this. You later discover that certain staff
within OCHA are receiving this benefit, but you were never told about this, and
no-one ever really explained to you what your entitlements would be. To whom do
you speak to seek clarification on the situation?
You are recruited to work
at a field duty station for “approximately one year”, but you are only given
a two month initial contract that does not include the various benefits of a
longer contract. What do you say, and to whom?
Humanitarian Coordinator at your duty station is also the UNDP Resident
Representative. This individual believes that OCHA is merely a “technical
arm” of UNDP rather than a
separate coordinating body, and effectively excludes OCHA from various
inter-agency fora in-country. How do you go about clarifying OCHA’s role, and
building up trust and respect for OCHA?
You are on an
inter-agency assessment mission to the interior of the country, travelling in a
convoy of UN vehicles in an area that it is normally considered to be safe. The
convoy is caught in an ambush by armed militia. You are unhurt, but your driver
is seriously injured, as are several UN agency staff. When you reach the nearest
town, journalists ask you to comment on what happened. (You are the most senior
OCHA staff member there). What do you say?
in the Handbook
& External Relations Unit (OCHA)
CAP Consolidated Appeal Process
CASA Coordinating Action on Small Arms
CERB Complex Emergency Response Branch (OCHA)
CERF Central Emergency Revolving Fund
CHAP Common Humanitarian Action Plan
CMOC Civil-Military Operations Center
DG Development Group
DHA Department of Humanitarian Affairs
DMT Disaster Management Team
DO Designated Official (for Security)
DPA Department of Political Affairs
DPKO Department of Peacekeeping Operations
DRB Disaster Response Branch (OCHA)
DRC Democratic Republic of the Congo
DSA Daily Subsistence Allowance
ECHA Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs
ECHO European Community Humanitarian Office
ECOSOC Economic and Social Council
ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States
ECPS Executive Committee on Peace and Security
ELB Emergency Liaison Branch (OCHA)
EMEA Extended Monthly Evacuation Allowance
ERC Emergency Relief Coordinator
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
FAS Finance and Administrative Section
FCSU Field Coordination Support Unit
FCU Field Coordination Unit
GA General Assembly
GIS Geographical Information System
HACU Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit
HC Humanitarian Coordinator
HDA Hazardous Duty Allowance
HEWS Humanitarian Early Warning System
HLWG Humanitarian Liaison Working Group
IAU Information Analysis Unit (OCHA)
IASC Inter-Agency Standing Committee
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
IDNDR International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
IDP Internally Displaced Person
IFRC International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
IO International Organization
IOM International Organization for Migration
IMSB Information Management Services Branch (OCHA)
IRIN Integrated Regional Information Network
ITU Information Technology Unit (OCHA)
MCDU Military and Civil Defense Unit
MONUA United Nations Observer Mission in Angola
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
PAID Policy, Analysis and Information Division (OCHA)
PDAB Policy Development and Advocacy Branch (OCHA)
PDU Policy Development Branch (OCHA)
RC Resident Coordinator
RGSA Reference Group on Small Arms Security Management Team
SRSG Special Representative of the Secretary-General
SRSG/ CAC Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade & Development
UNDAC United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination
UNDAF United Nations Development Assistance Framework
UNDP United Nations Development Program
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
UNOCHA United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan
UNOG United Nations Office at Geneva
UNOMIG United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia
UNMAS United Nations Mine Action Service
UNRWA United Nations Relief and Works Agency
UNSECOORD United Nations Security Coordinator
UNV United Nations Volunteers
WFP World Food Program
WHO World Health Organization
WG Working Group
Terms of Reference of the
Humanitarian Coordinato r
[As approved by the IASC-WG on 30 November 1994]
Terms of Reference of the
Humanitarian Coordinato r
The primary function of the
Humanitarian Coordinator is to facilitate and ensure the quick, effective, and
well-coordinated provision of humanitarian assistance to those seriously
affected by the complex emergency if question.
Within this context, the Terms
of Reference of the Humanitarian Coordinator include:
Within this context, the Terms
of Reference of the Humanitarian Coordinator include:
and serving as the Chair for meetings of the DMT in-country to deal with
to the complex emergency in question, and providing the necessary
secretariat support to the DMT. For purposes of dealing with the complex
emergency in question, the regular DMT will usually be expanded to include
other relevant entities, such as NGOs involved in related relief efforts.
agreement on the basic division of responsibilities among the UN agencies, in
accordance with their respective mandates and capacities, as well as working
with the other relief entities to facilitate such agreements within the larger
and maintaining a central registry of locally represented humanitarian
assistance agencies and organizations, including information on their
respective activities and expertise.
that effective inter-agency coordination within specific sector areas is
undertaken by the relevant agencies, and that coordination of the overall
logistics needs of the relied operation is effectively undertaken.
guidance from the Designated Official regarding the implementation of security
procedures in support of humanitarian assistance activities, ensuring that
this is effectively communicated to the concerned agencies in the field, and
facilitating their coordinated implementation.
as a focal point for discussion within the relief community regarding policy
issues of inter-agency concern (eg. wage levels for local staff, difficulties
with customs procedures and policies, Government clearances for travel and
passes, etc.) and as an interlocutor with the relevant parties (eg. the host
Government) for resolution of such matters.
the provision of key support services for the larger relief community, such as
telecommunications, transportation (eg. via vehicle or light aircraft
consultation with Government and national authorities on matters regarding the
planning and implementation of humanitarian assistance.
communications, and ensuring overall coordination, between the UN and other
humanitarian aid agencies on the one hand and the relevant components of
bilateral military forces and/ or those of UN Department of Peacekeeping
Operations when such forces are present, including promoting resolution of
matters of joint concern to the humanitarian aid agencies
Assessing and Addressing Humanitarian Needs
that the overall coordination of inter-agency, multisectoral assessments of
needs, including dentification of priority needs, and ensuring that such
assessments are quickly initiated, adequately supported, and effectively
the preparation of an overall humanitarian assistance strategy and Plan of
Action of UN agencies, including the establishing of priorities for assistance
and agreed collaborative approaches, and coordinating revisions and
modifications as required by changing conditions and needs. The preparation
and revision of this Plan should be done in close collaboration with the other
relevant humanitarian assistance entities, including reflecting their
activities and future plans in the Plan.
the preparation of inter-agency consolidated appeals for humanitarian
assistance for the complex emergency in question, including working with the
agencies both in-country and at the headquarters level to ensure that the
actions described in the IASC Consolidated Appeal Guidelines (currently being
finalized) are implemented.
the provision of resources against such appeals, bringing donor attention to
important outstanding gaps, and facilitating inter-agency resource
mobilization efforts both in-country as well as at the headquarters level (eg.
via local donor meetings and briefings, convening donor conferences if
humanitarian needs and identifying specific gaps in the provision of
humanitarian assistance. Working with UN and other entities to ensure that
such gaps are addressed before they reach the crisis point.
ongoing strategic planning for the relief effort, including the
provision of early warning of major changes in needs or delivery capacities,
and contingency planning for such eventualities.
and facilitating UN humanitarian assistance to special population groups (eg.
internally displaced persons, demobilized soldiers, etc.) to ensure that it is
provided in an adequate and timely manner, and coordinating such UN efforts
(unless such coordination has been delegated by the Emergency Relief
Coordinator to a specific agency).
that the necessary support is provided to field staff assisting in local
coordination of humanitarian assistance and in situation monitoring.
that effective evaluations of the overall relief efforts, especially the
coordination aspects, are undertaken, the lesson to be learned clearly
identified, and appropriate follow-up actions taken.
19. Cooperating with entities responsible for planning and implementation of rehabilitation and development activities to ensure that rehabilitation actions begin as soon as they become feasible (which will often be simultaneous with relief efforts), and that relief actions are planned and undertaken with the perspective of their longer-term impacts.
as a focal point for the humanitarian community for ensuring the protection of
humanitarian mandates in conflict situations, including by:
acceptance by all parties to the civil conflict in question on the key
principles that must underlie UN humanitarian aid efforts (eg. neutrality,
impartiality, access to those in need, accountability to donors for aid
provided, etc.), and
, assisting, and if necessary, leading negotiations to obtain free, safe and
unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance to those in need.
analyzing, and disseminating information regarding humanitarian needs and
operations to the wider community (eg. through the production of regular
22. Ensuring the provision of timely, accurate and relevant information to media, and of briefing information to assist new agencies and NGOs, visiting missions and delegations, etc.
UN Security Phases
UN employs five specific security phases to describe those security measures
to be implemented based on the prevailing security conditions in a given
country or in parts of a country. These five phases are standard for all duty
stations and must be included in all Security Plans. Following consultation
with the Security Management Team the Designated Official may declare Phases
One and Two at his/ her own discretion and notify UNSECOORD accordingly. Phase
Three and Four, normally, will be declared by the Designated Official only
with the authorization of UNSECOORD; and Phase Five normally will be declared
by the Designated Official only when the authorization of the
Secretary-General has been obtained through UNSECOORD.
may be implemented in sequential order or as the situation dictates.
Situations may occur where one part of the country is under a different phase
than the remainder of the country. A “return to normal” may be implemented
by the Designated Official with respect to Phases One and Two. If Phases
Three, Four or Five have been implemented, the decision to return to a lower
phase will be taken by UNSECOORD on the advice of the Designated Official.
phase is designed to warn staff members that the security situation in the
country or a portion of the country is such that caution should be exercised.
All travel into the duty station requires advance clearance from the
phase signifies a much higher level of alert and imposes major restrictions on
the movement of all staff members and their families. During Phase Two all
staff members and their families will be required to remain at home unless
Phase Three indicates a substantial deterioration in the security situation, which may result in the relocation of staff members or their eligible dependants. When recommending Phase Three to UNSECOORD, the Designated Official and Security Management Team may recommend any of the following mandatory actions:
Temporary concentration of all internationally recruited staff members and/ or their eligible dependants in one or more sites within a particular area
of all internationally recruited staff members and/ or their eligible
dependants to alternative locations within the country; and/ or
outside the country of all eligible dependants of internationally recruited
staff members and/ or non-essential internationally recruited staff members.
The determination of essential staff members for security purposes will be
made jointly by the Designated Official and the individual representative of
the agencies, programs or funds at the duty station.
Spouses of internationally
recruited staff members may remain, on a voluntary basis and subject to the
approval of the Designated Official, at a duty station where Phase Three has
been declared. Should this option be exercise, no
evacuation allowances would be payable for the individual concerned. This
option applies only to Phase Three and only to spouses of internationally
recruited staff members, never to other dependants.
Phase Four: Program Suspension
Phase Four is to enable the
Designated Official to recommend to the Secretary-General, through the
UNSECOORD, the relocation outside the country of all remaining internationally
recruited staff members except those directly concerned with emergency or humanitarian relief operations or security matters. All
other internationally recruited staff members who heretofore were considered
essential to maintain program activities will be evacuated at this time.
Phase Five: Evacuation
The decision to initiate Phase
Five – which can only be declared following approval by the
Secretary-General – signifies that the situation has deteriorated to such a
point that all remaining internationally recruited staff members are required
The relocation/ evacuation of
internationally recruited staff members and/ or their eligible family members
will, in the first instance, normally be to a designated safe haven, either
inside the country or in another country approved by UNSECOORD. Staff members
and/ or dependants who are relocated/ evacuated from a duty station may be
entitled to evacuation allowances (For more information regarding this matter,
please contact your administrative officer).
Following the relocation/
evacuation, a decision will be taken within 30 days to:
their return to the duty station;
staff members, temporarily or otherwise;
their return to their respective home country.
1998 CONTRIBUTIONS FOR FIELD COORDINATION UNITS,
IRINs and CAP STRENGTHENING
(Income Received or
Club of Nyon
Contributions received by UNOCHA in response to both coordination and mine action programmes.
Process Timetable for a Calendar Year(from
Technical Guidelines for the Consolidated Appeal Process,
CERB, March 1999)
Fax from OCHA to field locations outlining intentions for Mid Term Review
meeting Geneva mid July. Guidance/ instruction provided on the process and
content for MTR document preparation and dissemination
Field Offices gather and analyze information, financial responses,
indicators relating to 1999 CHAP
Field Offices gather and analyze information, financial responses,
indicators relating to 1999 CHAP
relating to 1999 CHAP
Training of trainers on CAP in advance of deployment late July/ August
Field level preparation of MTR document
Submission to OCHA Geneva of MTR for formal dissemination to member
MTR Meeting Geneva
Country Team retreat to review situation and determine strategy for
following year. Establishment of country level CAP ‘steering committee’
Assessments and development of Sectoral analysis to include progress
made, needs, identification of objectives and indicators
CAP ‘steering committee’ convenes to discuss time-frame and structure
of Appeal for following year and to formulate and agree on the CHAP
Sectoral lead agencies to determine priority areas of activity and
associated projects for inclusion in the new Appeal in accordance with the CHAP
2-4 week Oct. Completed field drafts submitted for finalization by OCHA Geneva
Dissemination to member states and partner organizations
Dissemination to member states and partner organizations
facilitator/ training support at the field level to take place in principle
PRIOR to 31.8.99.
facilitator/ training support at the field level to take place in principle
PRIOR to 31.8.99.
addition, two CD-ROMS, prepared by OCHA’s Information Technology Unit in New
York, are expected to be finalized in 1999. These will be particularly useful
for OCHA staff in the field. The first is an archive of relevant publications,
and the second is a ‘Field Kit’ containing useful information on a range of
topics such as administrative and personnel matters.
"Srategic Coordination in the Great Lakes Region 1996-1977’, an independent study for the IASC, March 1998 (available on www.reliefweb.int/resources)
‘Humanitarian Action in the Caucasus: A Guide for Practitioners’, by Greg Hansen, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, 1998 (www.brown.edu/Departments/Watson_Institute)
Crisis and Complex Peace: Humanitarian Coordination in Angola’, by Nicole Ball
and Kathleen Campbell, OCHA, March 1998 (www.reliefweb.int/resources)
‘Coordination in Rwanda: the Humanitarian Response to Genocide and Civil War’ by Taylor B. Seybolt, Conflict Management Group, February 1997 (www.cmgonline.org)
‘The Policies of Mercy: UN Coordination in Afghanistan, Mozambique and Rwanda
Antonio Donini, Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, 1996
website address above)
website address above)
§‘Easy Reference on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights’, OCHA
Development Unit, 1999 (contact OCHA-PDU at above e-mail address)
Rights and International Legal Standards: What relief workers need to know’,
Relief and Rehabilitation Network, February 1997
‘The Human Rights Handbook: A practical guide to monitoring human rights’, by Kathryn English and Adam Stapleton, University of Essex, October 1995
Rights: A compilation of international legal instruments’, (available at www.unhchr.ch)
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’, (contact OCHA-PDU)
‘Field Practices on Internal Displacement’, compiled by UNICEF, OCHA and HCHR, April 1999
Displacement in Africa’, a workshop report by UNHCR, Brookings Institute,
Displaced in the Southern Caucasus: an examination of humanitarian assistance
needs in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia’, by Women’s
Commission for Refugee Women and Children, April 1998
Gender Dimension of Internal Displacement’, by Judy Benjamin for UNICEF, OEP
Working Paper Series, November 1998
‘Internal Displacement and Gender, Humanitarian Principles Workshop: Focus on a Child Rights Approach to Complex Emergencies and Internal Displacement’, October 1998 (contact OCHA-PDU)
The Human Rights of Women and Children, Challenges and Opportunities’, report of a consultation organized by UNICEF, UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), Save the Children Alliance, International Women’s Rights Action Watch, Commonwealth Medical Association, January 1998
‘Gender-based Persecution’, report of the Expert Group Meeting, DAW, November 1997
‘United Nations Sanctions: How effective? How necessary?’, by Andrew Mack and Asif Khan, UN Strategic Planning Unit, March 1999
with the Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions: An OCHA perspective’, December
More Humane and Effective Sanctions Management: Enhancing the capacity of the UN
system’, by Larry Minear et al,
October 1997 (www.reliefweb.int/resources)
Miscellaneous (policy issues)
Expert Consultation on Protected Areas’, final report, OCHA/ Harvard
University, April 1999 (contact OCHA-PDU)
‘Between Relief and Development: targeting food aid for disaster prevention in Ethiopia’, by Kay Sharp, Relief and Rehabilitation Network, September 1998
‘People in Peril: Human Rights, Humanitarian Action and Preventing Deadly Conflict’, by John Stremlau, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, May 1998
‘Security in the Field – Information for Staff Members of the United Nations System’, (contact OCHA New York, tel. 212-963 1608)
Consolidated Appeals Process
‘Technical Guidelines for the Consolidated Appeal Process’, OCHA CERB, March 1999
Appeal Process Guidelines’, IASC, April 1994