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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the Transformative Agenda


Large-scale humanitarian crises, like the Haiti earthquake and floods in Pakistan in 2010 revealed major weaknesses and inefficiencies in the global relief response. The UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which brings together the main operational relief agencies of the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and international NGOs was set up to improve the global response to disasters.

In 2011, the IASC Principals under the leadership of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator adopted the Transformative Agenda, focusing on three key areas:

  • Leadership of the international humanitarian response to support countries own relief efforts;
  • Accountability to all stakeholders;
  • Coordination structures, needs assessments, planning and monitoring.

The European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) supports the objectives of the Transformative Agenda and is actively involved in its development. It further encourages its humanitarian partners to ensure they contribute to a coordinated humanitarian response by:

  • Senior management engagement with leadership of humanitarian agencies, either collectively (6-monthly meetings of Emergency Directors and top donors) or bilaterally;
  • Advocacy on humanitarian reform in UN and other forums, involvement in board meetings and donor support groups;
  • Engagement in discussions on coordination mechanisms such as humanitarian country teams, clusters or other dedicated efforts;
  • Participation in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle, including participation in contingency planning, coordination of assessments, and collective analyses;
  • Contribution to the monitoring and evaluation of the collective action;
  • Efforts to ensure that European Commission humanitarian funding is employed to the maximum extent possible in fostering coordinated response.

Picture: Clearing the debris after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010. © European Union/ECHO/ Susana Perez Diaz