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The principles of humanitarian practice aim to ensure the rights human rights of those affected by conflict or natural disaster to protection and assistance, while are protected and provided the required protection and assistance. while at the same time minimising the potential negative impact or manipulation of such assistance and increasing preparedness preparing for future disasters. Humanitarian practice includes the protection of civilians and those no longer taking part in hostilities, by meeting their basic needs for food, water, sanitation, shelter and health care; and assisting their return to normal lives and livelihoods. Humanitarian practice is guided by humanitarian law and a range of international standards and codes of conduct including:
- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948;
- the Four Geneva Conventions of 12949 and additional protocols of 1977;
- the Principles of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes; and
- the Sphere Project (2004) Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.
International humanitarian workers therefore abide by the following core humanitarian principles:
The IASC consists of the heads (or designated representatives) of the United Nations operational agencies (i.e. FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO) and humanitarian partners such as ICRC, ICVA, IFRC, InterAction, IOM, OHCHR, RSG on Human Rights of IDPs, SCHR, and the World Bank. The number of participating agencies has expanded since its inception in 1992. On the global level, the IASC meets formally twice a year and deliberates on issues brought to its attention by the ERC and by the IASC Working Group.
Useful document - Terms of Reference of the IASC.
The current Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator is Ms Valerie Amos. Mr. Stephen O'Brien. The Global Cluster lead agencies are accountable to the ERC in ensuring better coordination and effective humanitarian response through cluster activities.
Source – OCHA Website
Humanitarian Coordinator (HC)
Useful Document: HC TOR
Humanitarian Country Team
The Cluster leads at the country level are accountable to the RC in the absence of a HC.
United Nations Country Team (UNCT)
The UNCT exists in 136 countries, covering all of the 180 countries where there are United Nations programmes.
Useful Document: IASC guidance note on UNCT
Donor agencies may be present in the crisis area and may even be actively involved in disaster relief activities before a major emergency occurs. Some of these donor organisations, especially governmental organisations, have developed a concept for rapid intervention in case of disaster. Examples of such disaster relief sections within donor organisations include the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) of the United States Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department Operations Team (CHASE OT) of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).
Humanitarian organisations are funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, governments and other organisations. Each humanitarian agency usually has its own resource mobilisation mechanism in place having either bilateral or multilateral contributions provided by donors. In recent days, not only traditional donors such as government and inter-governmental organizations but also private donors are taking on an important part in supporting relief operations.
At the onset of an emergency, humanitarian communities come together to prepare for an appeal which summarizes relief needs and response plan for different sectors. These appeals are tools to structure humanitarian response and to mobilize funds.
- making funds available to NGOs, and in urgent cases, UN agencies, to cover start-up costs; and
- making funds available to NGOs and UN agencies in cases of rapidly changing circumstances and humanitarian needs where gaps need to be filled and other donor mechanisms are unavailable.
Source: Humanitarian Reform
Common Humanitarian Funds
The main objective of Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs) is to provide early and predictable funding to the most critical humanitarian needs as identified and formulated in a CAP. CHFs will however also maintain an emergency reserve (typically up to 10 percent of total funding) for responding to unplanned emergency needs outside the CAP. All humanitarian partners participating in the CAP process are eligible to receive funding from a CHF. Given that the objective of a CHF is to provide core funding towards the CAP, these funds are often much larger than ERFs and will involve cluster/sector leads and other humanitarian partners in an elaborate prioritization and allocation process. CHFs are managed by the HC supported by a dedicated advisory group and with the OCHA country office providing fund management support. In all existing funds UNDP is financial fund manager (administrative agent) and has also been tasked with subcontracting NGOs on behalf of the CHF (managing agent). CHFs are currently established in three countries: DRC and Sudan since 2006, and Central African Republic since 2008.
Source: For more on common humanitarian funds- Humanitarian Funding OCHA website
Central Emergency Response Fund
CERF is intended to complement – not substitute – existing humanitarian planning and funding mechanisms such as consolidated and flash appeals. The CERF provides seed funds to jump-start critical operations and fund life-saving programmes not yet covered by other donors.
Link: CERF website.
Good Humanitarian Donorship
The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative provides a forum for donors to discuss good practice in humanitarian financing and other shared concerns. By defining principles and standards it provides both a framework to guide official humanitarian aid and a mechanism for encouraging greater donor accountability.
Good Humanitarian Donorship website
Common Guidelines on Humanitarian Operations
International Crisis Group - An NGO working to prevent and resolve conflict, its website has comprehensive information about current conflicts around the world.
ReliefWeb - Main United Nations humanitarian coordination website, with daily news about complex emergencies and humanitarian relief programmes worldwide. Most major aid agencies post reports here during an ongoing emergency.
OCHA sites and links
Other OCHA sites
OCHA Recommended Websites and Links Page- Excellent source for a variety of humanitarian links.
Humanitarian Reform/he Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
United Nations Peacekeeping
Good Humanitarian Donorship