IASC News - February 2017
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News and Highlights from the IASC Community

Amina Isa lives in an IDP settlement in Maiduguri city in north-eastern Nigeria. Credit: UNOCHA/Otto Bakano

Crisis in the Lake Chad Region

On 24 February, the international community gathered in Oslo to discuss the acute humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Lake Chad region. Co-hosted by Norway, Nigeria, Germany and the United Nations, the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region garnered pledges of US$458 million for relief in 2017 and an additional $214 million for 2018 and beyond.

In his remarks to the press during the Conference, the Emergency Relief Coordinator noted that “the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Region is truly massive with a staggering 10.7 million people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Without our increased support, affected communities will face a life of hunger, disease, gender-based violence and continued displacement. But there is another future within grasp: as the international community scales up support, we can stop a further descent into an ever-deepening crisis with unimaginable consequences for millions of people. I am grateful for the generous support to humanitarian action we have heard this morning. The UN and our partners are ready and mobilised to further scale up our life-saving response - the people in the region have no time to wait.”


Dialogue on Strengthening the IASC

As part of the evolving dialogue on strengthening the IASC and building on its successes since its creation under GA/Res/46/182, six IASC Principals met in Geneva on 8 February to continue discussion in preparation for decision-making on potential options for change during the IASC Principals Retreat, April 2017. This was an opportunity for the IASC members to share their own thoughts and provide feedback on the forward-looking agenda, particularly in the context of a fast-changing political and operational landscape, which will have an impact on humanitarian response. The IASC Principals discussed how to further refine IASC working practices; increase outreach to the diverse humanitarian eco-system; and explored opportunities for IASC engagement with new UN structures and some priority issues for future attention and engagement. This discussion, and on-going dialogue, will inform the Retreat itself, to be held on 28 April.

IASC Event on the report of the Secretary-General on Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of the United Nations (2 February)

Ms. Anastasia Carayanides, Chief of OCHA’s Intergovernmental Policy Section, on 2 February in New York briefed IASC partners on preparation of the 2017 Report of the Secretary-General on Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; and on preparations for the 2017 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment. The ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment will take place on the 21-23 June in Geneva.

IASC Event on the Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformation (PACT) (3 February)

ERC Stephen O’Brien has stressed the importance of PACT, stating “The World Humanitarian Summit paved the way for fundamental changes to the way we address and reduce the needs and vulnerabilities of millions of people.  Six months after the Summit, the hard and tedious work of transforming commitments to change on the ground has begun. The online [PACT] ( will be a critical tool in keeping track of progress and promoting transparency and accountability as we work toward this endeavour.” On 3 February, Ms. Kathryn Yarlett, OCHA, briefed partners of the PACT reporting process. IASC members and other stakeholders are encouraged to submit reports on the PACT up until 17 March 2017. A note on “Guidance for self-reporting on World Humanitarian Summit Commitments and the Agenda for Humanity”; a quick reference guide “10 steps to report on your commitments” is available. For further information on self-reporting in the PACT, contact Kathryn Yarlett (; and

IASC Event on Colombia (3 February)

Mr. Gerard Gomez, OCHA Head of Office, Colombia, briefed the IASC on the humanitarian situation in Colombia on 3 February. He highlighted that, in 2016, over 2.8 were affected by mobility and access constraints; the number of threat events increased by 31 per cent; and nearly 980,000 people were affected by natural disasters. The 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan targets 1 million people and requests US$117 million for 135 humanitarian partners. While the ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP guerrillas has had a positive impact on a number of humanitarian indicators, he urged IASC partners to maintain a humanitarian presence in Colombia; to strengthen coordination between different pillars of work (humanitarian, development, human rights and peace building); to increase sustainable solution planning and advocate for humanitarian funding. Mr Gomez’s presentation is available on the IASC website.

GPC report on “The Centrality of Protection in Humanitarian Action - A Review of Field and Global Clusters 2016"

The Global Protection Cluster has launched its report "The Centrality of Protection in Humanitarian Action - A Review of Field and Global Clusters 2016". The Global Protection Cluster has reviewed its activities in 2016 based on its objective to make protection central to the humanitarian response. The GPC has also documented the objectives and progress of sample Protection Clusters/sectors worldwide. While each of them has its own, specific, frequently complex, context, each of them, as supported by the GPC, takes a similar approach to understanding the context and, based on this, developed a realistic and appropriate response.

Some lessons and best practice have been identified during this overview which are transferable and adaptable to each context. While none of these are especially new, they are reminders of how important it is to have a solid protection framework within which efforts to strengthen the protection response are consistently taken, including through advisory and guidance notes, ongoing support to humanitarian actors, technical working groups, trainings and workshops and support from the GPC itself. The GPC, together with partners and informed by analysis and expertise, will continue to monitor and evaluate efforts to ensuring that protection remains central to the response. The report can be found here.

STAIT Video Interview on Protection with UNHCR Protection Chief, Volker Turk

The Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team has released a new video interview on the importance of leadership on Protection, in partnership with UNHCR and the Global Protection Cluster. In this video interview, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Turk, discusses the unique responsibility that Humanitarian Coordinators have to exercise leadership in ensuring that protection is at the centre of humanitarian planning, preparedness, and response. You can access the video here 

Summary from STAIT Joint Needs Assessment Webinar now available


The summary from the recent STAIT webinar titled, "Joint Needs Assessments, Doing it Right?," is now available on the STAIT website. The summary covers the role of senior humanitarian leaders in the field in ensuring that humanitarian operations are based on impartial, timely, and context-sensitive information. You can access the webinar summary here.

Global Call for nominations for the Pool of SRSG and DSRSG positions in field missions

The Under-Secretary General for the Department of Field Support, Mr. Atul Khare has recently launched the Global Call for nominations to expand the pool of candidates for the generic positions of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) in United Nations field missions. This Global Call is part of the Gender Parity Strategy for reaching gender parity for senior leadership positions in the field, developed with extensive internal consultations at the highest level. This Global Call enhances outreach efforts aimed at widening the pool of potential candidates for Head and deputy Head of Mission positions (USG/ASG level) in UN peace operations. It responds to a collective demand for the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, as reflected in Article 101 of the UN Charter, and the need to ensure our leadership in the field reflects gender and geographic balance. Further information can be found online at:

To meet the Secretary-General’s pledge of achieving gender parity at the senior leadership level by the end of his tenure in 2021, the Senior Leadership Appointments Section would be grateful for nominations and/or referrals of candidates that you may know. Please send your referrals via the online platform and direct any questions you may have at

UNFPA Online course helps aid workers help women and girls

An online course for humanitarians is raising new awareness about women’s needs and vulnerabilities in emergency-affected communities around the world. The free UNFPA course, Managing Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, targets new or emerging gender-based violence (GBV) specialists as well as humanitarian or development practitioners - and others - who want to increase their knowledge around GBV prevention and response in emergencies. ​The​ ​course​​ ​was re-released on 24 February in a mobile- and tablet-friendly format, which will extend access to users without a computer.​ ​For the time being in English only, versions in French, Spanish and Arabic will be made available by the end of March 2017. ​See more at: 

Red Cross and Red Crescent Guide to Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA)

Guide to Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA), a joint effort by the IFRC and ICRC, and associated toolkit are now available on This is a pilot version and it is intended to be tested for the first year. Community engagement and accountability (CEA) is an approach to Red Cross Red Crescent programming and operations. It is supported by a set of activities that help put communities at the centre of what we do, by integrating communication and participation throughout the programme cycle or operation. The guide contains various resources that can help National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – as well as other organizations – to assess, design, implement, monitor and evaluate community engagement and accountability activities in support of programmes and operations.

Australian Red Cross – Managing Unsolicited Bilateral Donations

The issue of managing unsolicited bilateral donations (also known as ‘UBDs’) has been high on the agenda of many relief agencies working in large scale disaster response operations, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). In an emergency, even the most well-intentioned donations can cause more of a hindrance than a help. People who have been affected by a disaster need the right kind of assistance, at the right time. Often that is locally-sourced, or even in the form of cash so that disaster-affected people can take control of their situation and determine what they need the most. Law and policy has a big role to play in ensuring that international disaster assistance is regulated and facilitated as efficiently as possible, including the management of UBDs. The Australian Red Cross recently published a report on the issue of UBDs, which was promoted during the Humanitarian Partnerships Network Week in Geneva in February 2017. Click here for more information about the issue, and access to the Australian Red Cross report.

IFRC’s new Gender & Diversity organisational assessment toolkit

The purpose of this tool is to provide National Societies – as well as other organizations - with a standard method of conducting an organisational assessment on gender and diversity. Gender and diversity needs to be taken into account in two distinct but interlinking ways: firstly, the way that organizations are constituted in terms of their senior leadership and the composition of their staff and volunteers; and, secondly, in the way that programmes and services are designed and delivered. Accordingly, organizations must strengthen their structures, capacities and programmes to ensure that they mainstream gender and diversity effectively. The assessment can be conducted for the whole organization or for selected branches or offices. The findings of the assessment inform recommendations to the National Society/organization on how to strengthen gender and diversity in all areas of the organization.


IASC Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The Task Team met on 28 February. During the meeting, an update was given on the two events organized during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week. Both the events were well attended, and resulted in several offers for cooperation. Details of the discussions and outcomes will be made available soon on the TT webpage on the IASC website.

Looking forward, the annual Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be held on 13 – 15 June 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The co-chairs hope to organize a workshop on 16 June on the Guidelines’ development. Further details will be shared with the Task Team shortly.

The Task Team has received a grant from the Permanent Mission of Australia in Geneva to support initial activities proposed in the work plan, including production of a desk review and proposed framework of the guidelines. The Terms of Reference for the Desk Review Consultancy can be found here. The deadline for applications is 17 March 2017.

The Task Team is currently composed of 53 individuals from 39 organizations (10 organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs); 8 NGOs; 12 UN Agencies; ICRC; IFRC; IOM; 2 Governments; ECHO; as well as the IASC secretariat and the IASC Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group). You can get involved by contacting the co-chairs. Their contact details can be found on the Task Team’s website.

IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA)

Fifty participants from 36 organisations participated to the first IASC AAP/PSEA Task Team meeting of 2017. After discussing the next steps to finalise the revision of the IASC CAAP, an update on the Task Team’s achievements according to the workplan was presented. The STAIT team also shared the short guidance for Leadership on AAP in Practice which highlights practical steps for Humanitarian Coordinators and HCTs, and was developed in collaboration with the Task Team following last year joint learning mission to Iraq.
The Task Team had a stand in the ALNAP conference “Changing humanitarian action” in Stockholm on 14-15 February. The co-chair and the coordinator contributed to the panel on “Changing the role of affected people: accountability and participation”. The discussion focused around the key drivers of change and how the localisation agenda can also support increased AAP.
Over 60 participants attended the event co-organised by the Task Team on how to enhance the collaboration with diasporas in humanitarian response, as part of OCHA’s 2017 Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week. The key highlights from the event can be found on the Task Team webpage.

IASC Reference Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action

UN Women, the Secretariat for the Gender Reference Group (GRG), hosted the ‘2017 Annual Strategic Planning’ meeting for the GRG on 21 February 2017 to develop a work plan for the GRG for 2017. The wide-ranging meeting explored ways in which the GRG can support the role of the IASC, its relationship with GenCap, as well as entry points for engagement with the World Humanitarian Summit and Grand Bargain commitments to ensure the implementation of commitments in a gender-responsive manner. Participants were also updated on progress on the IASC Handbook on Gender in Humanitarian Action and the IASC Policy Update and Accountability Framework, and began definition of the GRG workplan.    

UN Women hosted the ‘Expert Group Meeting to Guide the Update of the IASC Gender Policy’ on 22 February, 2017 in New York. The meeting enabled consultation with a range of partners to ensure that the IASC’s Gender in Humanitarian Action Policy is an updated, relevant, and pragmatic policy resource.  Key aspects of the policy statement requiring revision were discussed, particularly with respect to the Grand Bargain, and the World Humanitarian Summit gender commitments, and on the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders. Participants explored the accountability responsibilities of the IASC particularly regarding institutionalizing gender in emergencies both in policy and practice, the specific roles and responsibility of IASC member, structures, clusters and field representation, and the wider accountability commitments (SWAP). The meeting concluded with a plenary discussion on the membership and the terms of reference for the steering committee.


IASC Reference Group on Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas

As part of the Humanitarian Network Partnership Week 2017, the IASC MHCUA Reference Group organised an event on the Humanitarian Response in Urban Areas: what improvements required for the IASC. This brought together a variety of partners (Clusters, UN Agencies, NGOs, Governance actors, Global Alliance for Urban Crises) to discuss key priorities for improved coordination of humanitarian responses in urban settings. Its outcomes will feed into the IASC RG MHCHA working document “Guidance Note for improving coordination and responses to Urban Crises in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle through the IASC and its Cluster System”, which will act as a basis for the upcoming consultations with IASC bodies on improving coordination and response in these challenging contexts.



STAIT Guidance on Leadership on Accountability to Affected People in Practice

STAIT Guidance on Leadership on Accountability to Affected People in Practice sets out some practical steps that Humanitarian Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Teams can take to ensure that accountability to affected people (AAP) guides humanitarian response. It builds on practical examples captured during a field mission to Iraq in August 2016 undertaken by the Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT) and members of the IASC AAP/PSEA Task Team. The Guidance can be accessed here.



IASC Meetings & Events

01 March: Meeting of the IASC Task Team on Strengthening the Humanitarian/Development Nexus with a focus on protracted contexts

03 March: IASC Focal Points meeting

07 March: ad hoc IASC Principals meeting to discuss and review the L3 emergency response in Syria, Yemen and Iraq

08 March: STAIT Webinar on Collective Accountability to Affected People

15 March: Meeting of the IASC Humanitarian Financing Task Team

22 March: Meeting of the IASC Reference Group on Risk, Early Warning and Preparedness

26 – 30 March: IASC Emergency Team Leadership Programme (ETLP), Montreux

29 March: Meeting of the IASC Reference Group on Principled Humanitarian Action

05-06 April: IASC Working Group, Rome

28 April: IASC Principals’ Retreat

Other Events

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The IASC was established under General Assembly Resolution 46/182 (1991) as the primary inter-agency coordination mechanism for humanitarian action in complex and major emergencies. It is a unique forum which brings together UN operational agencies and other humanitarian organizations and is supported by the IASC secretariat. Email:
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