PART Iii: performance in 2007
performance of headquarters
Advocacy and Public Information
In 2007, OCHA’s advocacy gave greater visibility to several of the United Nations Secretary-General’s highest priorities, including Darfur, the Middle East and the increasing humanitarian impact of climate change as experienced by some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through extensive media and public outreach, OCHA also helped to strengthen the United Nations’ image as a timely, predictable and effective humanitarian actor.
No single humanitarian crisis dominated the world’s headlines in 2007. While conflict continued to claim thousands of lives – from Iraq to Somalia, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – humanitarian actors were challenged by both natural and man-made hazards. OCHA’s advocacy helped to highlight the broader trends surrounding the fifteen sudden-onset natural disasters responded to by flash appeals, in particular pointing to the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events associated with climate change.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator spearheaded global advocacy efforts aimed at raising awareness of the humanitarian impact of climate change. With key support and facilitation provided by the Advocacy and Information Management Branch, the Emergency Relief Coordinator helped to amplify United Nations advocacy on climate change through a number of speeches (including the keynote address to the first conference of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction), internationally published op-eds and articles, field missions and over a dozen highprofile media interviews.
More generally, the Advocacy and Public Information Section facilitated hundreds of media interviews and press briefings, provided inputs to the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, wrote a number of internationally published op-eds, articles and public speeches on behalf of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and supported field missions, Humanitarian Coordinators and regional advocacy efforts. Regional advocacy efforts led by OCHA field and regional offices (and supported by headquarters) also drew attention to the issues of sexual and gender-based violence, principled and predictable funding, and strengthened humanitarian coordination.
OCHA continued to draw global attention to large-scale, high-profile emergencies such as those in Darfur, Somalia, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as to the more ‘neglected’ emergencies including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Colombia. This involved advocating for increased humanitarian access, protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law among parties to the conflict as well as regional actors, United Nations Member States and donors. In his field missions to these and other key locations of humanitarian concern, the Emergency Relief Coordinator made significant efforts to explain and promote the universal values, principles of neutrality and impartiality that underpin the work of OCHA and its humanitarian partners. A critical advocacy platform continued to be the United Nations Security Council, and in the course of 2007 a number of important briefings in this forum – covering both ongoing crises as well as the emerging situation in Kenya – led to significant changes in international policy and direction.