Should L3 Responses receive higher funding priority than other responses?

No. Although the activation of a L3 Response may help to raise funds, it should not exacerbate inequities between crises and/or mean that other crises do not receive funding or attention. However, we need to recognise that some Member States may still prioritise funding for L3 crises.  All humanitarian response activities should be funded on the basis of the needs identified in the relevant appeal documents.



Does the deactivation of a L3 Response mean that the crisis no longer requires international attention?

No. In protracted crises, after a L3 Response is deactivated international support will still be required to: sustain an effective response; and advocate with those with influence to bring an end to the crisis. Likewise, in the aftermath of sudden-onset natural disasters, international support will continue to be required for response, recovery and rebuilding long after a L3 Response is deactivated. The purpose of the L3 is not to raise funds even, though it may help to attract resources. An L3 Response declaration should not exacerbate inequities between crises.


How do you determine readiness to transition from a L3 Response?

A transition from a L3 response is initiated once the required capacities are in place to enable response. This should be measured against a ‘Transition Strategy’ which highlights key indicators – such as number, calibre and location of surged staff, establishment of empowered leadership at HCT, activation of coordination systems– to determine whether the response remains reliant on the L3 response. If the response is not yet fit-for-purpose at the end of the initial three-month activation, consideration should be given as to whether the L3 mechanism is appropriate for addressing the shortcomings, or whether there are other underlying factors which the L3 mechanism cannot address. Where it is felt that the L3 mechanism can address the shortcomings, the L3 Response may be extended for a further three months. Where factors which the L3 mechanism cannot address (e.g. inability to negotiate access with non-state armed groups) are beyond the response, transition from the L3 Response may commence, accompanied by clear messaging regarding the reasons for the limitations of the response.


When and Why is a L3 Response activated?

A L3 Response is activated when a humanitarian situation suddenly and significantly changes and, following an analysis of five criteria – scale, complexity, urgency, capacity, and reputational risk – it is clear that the capacity to lead, coordinate and deliver humanitarian assistance and protection on the ground does not match the scale, complexity and urgency of the crisis. Wherever possible, the IASC endeavours to avoid the need to activate a L3 Response by taking early action in response to early warnings about the possible deterioration of a given situation.

Note: The IASC L3 mechanism is about the need to rapidly ramp-up the response effort so that it is fit-for-purpose – i.e. has the appropriate leadership, and coordination mechanism to deliver assistance and facilitate protection as the scale, complexity and urgency of a crisis develops. It is intended as a short term injection of additional capacity. It does not determine the severity of the crisis itself or relate to any political circumstances.


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.