Will the U.S. NGO commitments really bring about meaningful change to the lives of affected people?

The announcement of commitments is only one step. The true change will come in how they will be implemented. We must ensure that we develop a monitoring plan, holding ourselves accountable to the promises that we make. We are open to new approaches, and adaptable to ensuring they are context-specific and evidence-informed.

Above all, we must ensure that we put affected people at the center of decision-making from the start. Some commitments will require us to change how we work internally; some will require how we work with affected people or other stakeholders. All require change, incremental or instant, and this will be monitored by members and shared with InterAction.

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How can NGOs hold the system accountable?

NGOs can hold the humanitarian system accountable in a variety of ways:

  • Request that coordination meeting minutes (HCT and cluster) are regularly shared with members and accurately reflect meeting discussions.
  • Follow up on feedback provided; if comments were not taken on board in a strategic or operational document such as an advocacy statement, joint needs assessment, Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), cluster response plan, Strategic Response Plan, etc ask why, document the response and escalate if necessary.
  • Every part of the architecture requires a document that explains its role and function in country, often in the form of a Terms of Reference (TOR).
    • If a cluster, a country-based funding mechanism and/or the HCT does not have such a document request that it be drafted and finalized in a consultative manner.
  • As cluster members, review and provide feedback on Cluster TOR and management arrangements.
  • As HCT members, review and provide feedback on the HCT TOR.
  • Engage with global and high-level missions.
  • If a cluster or HCT is not fulfilling its mandate, raise the issue. Try to resolve it in-country by engaging with the NGO coordinating body, Cluster Lead Agency (CLA), OCHA, and the Humanitarian Coordinator if necessary. Document your dialogue.
  • Inform your headquarters and potentially one of the global NGO consortia if the humanitarian architecture in-country is not fit for purpose.

How are NGOs accountable within the humanitarian architecture?

NGOs have a range of accountabilities within the humanitarian architecture.

At the country level NGOs should:

  • Understand the humanitarian architecture in both theory as well as local practice.
  • Take the time to share major humanitarian decisions and discuss the strategic objectives of the response with partners and local community leaders.
  • Be engaged, pro-active and strategic in your interactions with the NGO consortia (if it exists) clusters, OCHA and the Humanitarian Country Team.
  • Devote time/human resources to co-lead a cluster at the national or sub-national level.
  • Utilize and contribute to collective resources such as humanitarianresponse.info

At the global level NGOs should:

  • Understand the humanitarian architecture in both theory as well as function in the country programs within your purview.
  • Bring field realities to policy discussions via the IASC task teams, reference groups, research institutes and the global NGO consortia.

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.

What are some indicators of an effective HCT?

Every Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is different but a few general indicators that the HCT is working together to provide strategic response guidance may include:

  • The HCT is an inclusive forum for strategic, high level dialogue where all members feel that they can raise concerns and that their concerns are respected and heard by other members.
  • HCT member and their constituencies are clear on and understand the decisions made by the HCT.
  • The Strategic Response Plan is defined by the HCT and used as a tool for planning and implementation by the humanitarian community.
  • Accountability to affected populations is a regular discussion topic.