Is the humanitarian architecture just the UN?

The humanitarian architecture is more than the UN; it is the Inter-Agency Standing Committee and applicable national disaster management agencies.


Is there a formal IASC mechanism to evaluate a humanitarian response?

Yes. An Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation (IAHE) occurs within months 9-12 of a L3 declaration and for non-L3s at the specific request of the HC/HCT or other primary stakeholders.[1]

An inter-agency humanitarian evaluation is an independent assessment of results of the collective humanitarian response by member organizations of the IASC to a specific crisis. IAHEs evaluate the extent to which planned collective results have been achieved and how humanitarian reform efforts have contributed to that achievement.

For more information please see the IAHE guidelines.

The IAHE does not replace an individual agency’s own evaluation of their response to a crisis. Additionally, research and advocacy institutions may send evaluation teams looking at a specific issue.

[1] Please see page 18 of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle reference cycle version 2.0, pending finalization.

What is the role of NGOs within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)?

Globally, NGOs are members of the IASC via the three global NGO consortia, InterAction, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)  and the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR).

In country NGOs engage with the IASC via participation in coordination and decision-making structures such as the cluster coordination system and the humanitarian country team.

What is the difference between a Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, a DSRSG, a RC/HC, an HC and a DHC?

DSRSG and RC posts are UN positions, whereas HC and DHC posts are IASC positions: that is, they belong to the entire humanitarian community. As such, DSRSGs and RCs are nominated by the UN Secretary-General, whereas HCs and DHCs are designated by the Emergency Relied Coordinator.

Humanitarian coordination leadership posts broadly belong to two tracks:

  • RC-track posts: these are Resident Coordinator (RC) in disaster-prone countries; RC/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC); Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/RC/HC (DSRSG/RC/HC); and Deputy Special Coordinator/RC/HC (DSC/RC/HC). They are nominated by the UN Secretary-General.
  • HC-track posts: these are Stand-alone HC (HC); Deputy HC (DHC); Senior HC (SHC); Regional HC (RHC); and Deputy Regional HC (DRHC). They are designated by the Emergency Relied Coordinator.

Resident Coordinator positions are funded and managed by UNDP on behalf of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), the platform of UN development agencies. The Resident Coordinator leads and coordinates the development activities of UN agencies, in support of the national government. As such, s/he chairs the United Nations Country Team. As the most senior representative of the Secretary-General in country (unless a Special Representative of the Secretary-General is appointed), the RC upholds and promotes the UN’s responsibilities with regard to preventing and responding to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the responsibilities of UN entities and staff in this regard.

The Resident Coordinator is always also the UNDP Resident Representative (RR) in country.

The Resident Coordinator is normally also the Designated Official for UN Security, unless the UN Secretary-General appoints a more senior UN official who is resident in the country.

If international humanitarian assistance is required, the Resident Coordinator is accountable to the ERC for coordinating the response efforts of all humanitarian actors (UN and others). Depending on the situation, in particular its scale, complexity and urgency, the ERC, in consultation with the IASC, may choose to designate the RC as HC (in which case the person becomes known as an RC/HC), or designate someone else as stand-alone HC.

If a special political mission or peacekeeping operation is established and a Special Representative of the Secretary-General is appointed, the RC may be appointed to also serve as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General. In cases where a Resident Coordinator (RC) also serves as the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG), s/he is referred to as a “triple hat”.

Deputy Humanitarian Coordinators (DHC) are appointed when a humanitarian situation worsens in degree or complexity, requiring additional support to the humanitarian leader in place. A DHC can be located either in the capital, together with the HC, or in the region most affected by the crisis. DHCs are designated by the ERC in consultation with the IASC.

Regional Humanitarian Coordinators (RHC) are appointed when a humanitarian response has a regional impact warranting overall strategic coordination at the regional level. The RHC usually supports HCs in the affected countries to ensure overall coherence in the response, build on existing synergies with development actors as well as increase advocacy and fund raising efforts. There are currently two RHCs, one for the Sahel Region and one for the regional impact of the Syria crisis. RHCs are designated by the ERC in consultation with the IASC.

Senior Humanitarian Coordinators (SHC) are appointed in L3 emergencies, the most severe and large-scale humanitarian crises, to lead the humanitarian response. SHCs are designated by the ERC in consultation with the IASC.