Are all decisions in an HCT made by consensus?

Reaching a general agreement on all decisions is ideal but not always realistic given the pace and volume of decisions that need to be made in humanitarian settings. The HCT should make decisions in a participatory, equitable manner within humanitarian country team meetings and those decisions should be noted for the record and shared with all members of the HCT.

In the case of Level 3 emergencies it is recognized that, “the HC can only be effective as a leader in an L3 emergency if the others within the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) recognize that leadership role and are empowered to meet their own responsibilities, and if actors within the humanitarian architecture abide by their already defined commitments, roles and responsibilities.”[1]

There are two “TA Protocols” that address empowered leadership; the “Concept Paper on ‘Empowered Leadership’” and “Responding to Level 3 Emergencies: What ‘Empowered Leadership’ looks like in practice.”

[1] IASC Transformative Agenda Reference document, “Concept Paper on ‘Empowered Leadership’” March 2014.


How can we ensure that RC/HCs have a stronger understanding of the NGO community?

In addition to strategically engaging with the RC/HC, senior NGO representatives can seek to become RC/HCs themselves. The first NGO representative to be accepted into the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) Pool was in 2006. Since then, 2 more NGO representatives have been deployed as RC/HCs. NGOs have increased the number of qualified applicants that they submit annually for consideration into the HC Pool. In 2014 four NGO representatives were accepted. Upon deployment they are employed by UNDP.

Upon designation of new HCs, as well as selection of new RCs in countries of humanitarian concern, OCHA organizes on-boarding meetings in Geneva, Rome and New York for incoming HCs (and RCs) to become acquainted to their stakeholders. Those on-boarding programmes include systematically meetings with NGO partners active in the country of deployment. This is a good opportunity to engage with RC/HCs and increase their understanding of NGOs.

What is the difference between an HCT and a UNCT?

The UNCT comprises all heads of UN agencies and IOM, whereas the HCT includes only relevant heads of UN agencies as well as non-UN humanitarian actors. The HCT addresses strategic issues of the wider humanitarian community whereas the UNCT focuses on UN concerns. The HCT and the UNCT coexist and do not replace each other.

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is a strategic and operational decision-making and oversight body established and led by the HC to lead and coordinate international humanitarian assistance in support of existing national efforts. It is not an inclusive forum but rather includes only operationally relevant agencies, be they UN agencies, funds and programmes, IOM, international and national NGOs, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Some HCTs include donors. Agencies that are designated Cluster leads represent both their Cluster and their organization in the HCT.

In the absence of a designated HC, and in case of a humanitarian emergency, the RC is responsible for setting up and regularly convening a HCT, inclusive of all operationally relevant actors, including non-UN organizations.

The UN Country Team (UNCT) is led by the Resident Coordinator and is the principal coordination and decision-making body of UN agencies. The main purpose of the UN Country Team is for individual UN agencies to plan and work together to ensure the delivery of tangible results in support of the development agenda. In countries where there is no on-going humanitarian emergency, the UNCT, under the leadership of the RC, is responsible for preparedness and contingency planning by UN agencies at country level.

In a humanitarian crisis the HCT is the lead strategic and operational decision making body, in close collaboration and consultation with the host government. In the event that a crisis occurs in a country without an HCT then one will be formed. Until it is formed the UNCT will coordinate with the host government.

Do you only have DSRSGs when there is an integrated mission?

Yes, DSRSG positions exist only in special political missions or peacekeeping operations. There are different types of DSRSG positions, including for instance DSRSG-Political, DSRSG-Rule of Law and DSRSG/RC/HC. The number and type of such position in any given mission depends on the context and mandate of the mission.

DSRSG/RC/HCs (“triple hats”) only exist in the context of integrated missions (those are called “integrated” missions as development and humanitarian aspects of the UN presence are “integrated” into the peacekeeping or peace-making operation).

Who do RHCs, a DRSG, a RC/HC and HCs report to?

Resident Coordinators report to the Secretary General through the UNDG Chair (who is the UNDP Administrator), through the Chairs of the Regional UNDG Teams (who are the UNDP Regional Bureau Directors). RCs have an additional reporting line to the ERC for the performance of humanitarian functions.

RC/HCs have a dual reporting line, to the Secretary-General/UNDG Chair for the performance of RC functions, and to the ERC for the performance of HC functions.

HCs, Senior HCs and Regional HCs report to the ERC.

DHCs report to the HCs in their respective country of assignment.

Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General report to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in their country of assignment.

DSRSG/RC/HCs have three reporting lines, to the SRSG for the performance of DSRSG functions, to the Secretary-General/UNDG Chair for the performance of RC functions, and to the ERC for the performance of HC functions.