With the growing scale and impact of humanitarian crises, especially those that have resulted from natural disasters, OCHA has been engaged in building partnerships that will allow it to respond in a timely and effective manner. Some of these efforts involve growing the predictability of support by enhancing relations with existing partners; others involve forging new, sustainable partnerships with nontraditional donors and private sector partners.
The international community has responded to natural disasters in the last few years with unprecedented support, but there is still a clear need to have a more systematic and predictable partnership in responding to crises. As the tsunami and South Asia earthquake disasters demonstrated in 2005, many governments provide support through bilateral channels. Yet, the multitude of actors and contributing nations has clearly highlighted the added value of multilateralism and a coordinated response.
OCHA’s strategy is to build new partnerships as well as to increase understanding of the UN’s coordination role.With the support of some Member States and the members of the OCHA Donor
Support Group, OCHA has developed constructive dialogue with G-77 members and non-traditional
humanitarian partners.Meetings will be convened under the leadership of the ODSG in Istanbul and
Abu Dhabi in 2006 to highlight the added value of collective action and raise awareness of humanitarian response tools.
Implementation of the Middle East Initiative, launched in 2004, has helped build cooperation between the international humanitarian community and regional governments. The initiative increased
collaboration and working opportunities with NGOs from the Middle East and promoted IHL and
principles, and the humanitarian efforts of the UN with counterparts in the Arab/Muslim world. It is
important, too, to note the valuable contribution to humanitarian activities made by Arab and Muslim
governments, NGOs and Red Crescent Societies, for which there is little visibility.
OCHA has also developed institutional dialogues with the members of the Cooperation Council for
the Arab States of the Gulf and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to find ways to work together with these partners on global humanitarian actions. Building partnerships with regional and sub-regional organisations was the focus of OCHA Regional Offices’ work in the Americas, Asia and Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Activities focused on strengthening regional and local disaster management capabilities through training, and operational cooperation for disaster response and reduction. OCHA works with more than 18 organisations involved in disaster management and capacity building, including ECOWAS, CDERA and the ADRC.
Humanitarian actors have diverse identities, missions and mandates, approaches, processes and
methodologies. This diversity is matched by an increasingly recognised level of interdependence, yet,
too often, this complementarity is not capitalised upon.
Throughout 2005, OCHA planned and laid the groundwork for a meeting in July 2006 of the heads
of some 20 INGOs, national NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and of the IASC
Principals, including UN and non-UN humanitarian organisations, to find means to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian action and establish better relations at the global and operational levels.
That meeting will seek to clarify the relationship between the UN and non-UN humanitarian organisations in order to respond more effectively to needs. Participants will examine how to use new and existing mechanisms, processes and systems to ensure an effective relationship that allows for more effective humanitarian action – both in terms of operations and advocacy.
Realising the potential of the private sector in emergency relief after the tsunami, OCHA also
played an active role in developing guidelines for the acceptance of pro bono goods and services offered by the private sector. OCHA led and coordinated partnerships between the private sector and the UN, by successfully channelling pro bono services from PricewaterhouseCoopers to 20 different projects managed by several UN Agencies and departments.
A partnership with the World Economic Forum has been developed in order to ensure an efficient and
effective private sector participation in humanitarian relief efforts, in line with the UN Reform. The USG’s participation at the Forum’s annual meeting in January, advocating for UN humanitarian relief assistance, represented a significant step in that direction.