Organizational Structure — Annotated
The executive management of OCHA consists of the offices of the Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the offices of the Directors of New York, Geneva and the Coordination and Response Division.
The Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary-General on all humanitarian issues. The USG/ERC has three primary tasks: humanitarian policy development and coordination in support of the Secretary-General; advocacy of humanitarian issues and provision of guidance and direction to United Nations Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs); and coordination of international humanitarian response.
The USG/ERC chairs the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA). With an emphasis on strategic planning, management, staff security and transition issues, the Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator supports the work of, and is principal adviser to, the USG/ERC. The Assistant Secretary-General provides direct managerial supervision of OCHA, ensuring effective cooperation between Headquarters (New York and Geneva), Regional Offices (ROs) and Country Offices (COs). The Assistant Secretary-General oversees the Executive Office and the Strategic Planning Unit.
Executive and Administrative Offices
The Executive Office in New York and the Administrative Office in Geneva are primarily concerned with finance and budget; human resources, and staff development and training.The Executive Office is the OCHA internal authority on administrative policy issues. It interprets United Nations Staff and Financial Regulations and Rules, and provides overall guidance on related administrative instructions and procedures. The Executive Office supports senior management in formulating human resources development initiatives including training and development strategies, succession planning, staff mobility and rotation, and rostering. The Executive Office coordinates departmental programme budgets and presentations to legislative bodies, and manages the Trust Fund for the Strengthening of OCHA and its related Special Account for Programme Support (which funds administrative activities in New York).
Under the overall strategic direction of the head of the Executive Office, the Administrative Office manages the receipt and expenditure of funds; provides management and (financial) donor reporting; guides field staff and desk officers on the availability and use of funds; supports the procurement of goods and services; and undertakes the recruitment and deployment of field staff. It manages the Trust Fund for Disaster Relief (the main source of funding for field activities) and its related Special Account for Programme Support (which funds administrative activities in Geneva).
Office of the Director, New York
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Secretariat supports the ERC in managing the fund, which is composed of a loan element of US$50 million and a grant element with a funding target of $450 million ($500 million in total). In addition to vetting the proposals and advocating full and timely funding, the Secretariat also publicizes the fund’s successes.
The External Relations and Partnerships Section is mainly responsible for relationship management, partnership building and resource mobilization (primarily for CERF) with Member States and the private sector.
The Funding Coordination Section (FCS) provides technical, programmatic and policy guidance in collaboration with internal and external partners on country-based pooled funds (Common Humanitarian Funds and Emergency Response Fund) to OCHA Headquarters and the field, partners and donors. FCS also actively supports OCHA COs on establishing and managing the funds.
The IASC, chaired by the ERC, is the inter-agency forum created as a result of the General Assembly Resolution 46/182 for humanitarian dialogue and decision-making among key humanitarian partners. The IASC is composed of the United Nations, international organizations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs. The IASC’s primary role is to shape humanitarian policy and ensure coordinated and effective response. The Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs, also chaired by the USG/ERC, brings the humanitarian components of the United Nations together with the development, human rights, political, peacekeeping and security arms of the United Nations Secretariat and agencies to address important humanitarian issues and crises. The IASC/ECHA Secretariat in New York facilitates the work of the IASC and ECHA.
Communications and Information Services Branch
The Communications and Information Services Branch provides a range of services that allow OCHA to better manage its information and communicate it strategically to influence the policies and practices of key actors. The branch works with OCHA at Headquarters and the field, donors and Member States. It also works with IASC organizations including cluster leads and NGOs, as well as international media, research initiatives, think tanks and academia, humanitarian information sources and partnership networks.
The Communications Services Section’s (CSS) key activities include formulating an agreed OCHA-wide communications strategy and related policy guidance for public information, advocacy, visual media and reporting. CSS supports OCHA with more targeted advocacy outreach by making creative use of multimedia including films and info-graphics.
The Information Services Section (ISS) helps to ensure the availability of the information resources and information management expertise that OCHA requires to function effectively in emergencies. ISS builds sustainable partnerships in advance of disasters that directly contribute to the predictable exchange of information in emergencies.
Information Technologies Section provides basic communications systems such as e-mail, and more complex infrastructure such as the Web Content Management and Document Management systems to Headquarters and the field, including for emergency operations.
IRIN brings quality humanitarian news and fresh, accessible analysis to audiences who otherwise would not hear about them. This includes French and Arabic services, photo, radio, podcasts and traditional media syndication. IRIN also re-broadcasts on major television channels and engages the younger generation through social and mobile media. It helps meet the needs of people in crisis by giving timely and original information to aid workers, decision makers, analysts and media.
ReliefWeb provides 24-hour daily coverage of natural disasters and complex emergencies, and produces analytical mapping including humanitarian profile maps. It aims to have a strong editorial presence to review content, to provide data to facilitate analysis and to deliver information in an effective, user-friendly way.
Policy Development and Studies Branch
The Policy Development and Studies Branch (PDSB) supports effective emergency response coordination and advocacy by providing leadership on humanitarian policy, evaluation and best practice. PDSB ensures the integration of humanitarian principles, protection concerns, lessons learned and agreed policies into operational planning.
PDSB identifies emerging humanitarian trends and supports the development of common policy positions among humanitarian agencies. It does this in cooperation with other OCHA branches, United Nations Secretariat partners and United Nations operational agencies, as well as with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and humanitarian NGOs, think tanks and the academic community. PDSB also works with OCHA offices in the field to identify emerging policy issues and adapt them into concrete guidance and analytical tools for use by field practitioners.
The Disaster and Vulnerability Policy Section develops guidance and tools to make policy more effective, specifically in relation to disasters associated with natural hazards and climate change. The section also monitors and analyses overall trends and factors related to vulnerability and their impact on humanitarian action. The Evaluation and Studies Section plans and implements evaluations of IASC and General Assembly-mandated evaluations, as well as internal evaluations, as accountability tools to measure the performance and effectiveness of humanitarian action (beyond OCHA) and as learning tools to improve OCHA response. The Inter-Governmental Support Section (IGSS) supports the work of intergovernmental bodies and contributes to greater awareness and application of humanitarian policies and principles. IGSS promotes systematic and informed policy dialogue among Member States, including through United Nations organs (the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council) as well as regional and sub-regional organizations. The Policy Planning and Analysis Section strengthens OCHA capacity to link humanitarian policies and practices more directly with operational decision-making at the country level. The Protection of Civilians Section promotes the systematic consideration of protection of civilians issues by the Security Council, as well as regional organizations at policy and operational levels. It advises the field on how to respond to specific issues affecting civilians in times of armed conflict. The Adviser to the Representative of the Secretary-General (RSG) on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons supports the RSG in policy development in his/her missions and in dialogue with governments.
In 2009, PDSB also managed three thematic areas: the Assessment and Classification in Emergencies Project, which supports the inter-agency development of a common humanitarian classification system and definitions, including the Humanitarian Dashboard; the Guidance Management Project, which oversees the development of normative corporate guidance for greater organizational coherence and professionalism; and the Gender Advisory Team, which supports the mainstreaming of gender equality programming into humanitarian action, and protection against sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual gender-based violence-related activities within OCHA. An additional limited capacity also existed in 2009 to better equip OCHA and its partners to deal with the effects of the global food crisis.
Coordination and Response Division
The Director of the Coordination and Response Division (CRD) oversees the daily management of all OCHA ROs/COs and is responsible for coordinating all country-level humanitarian strategies. The Director assumes the lead role within OCHA in advising the USG/ERC on operational decision-making for response.
Through the geographic desks, CRD provides technical support to RCs/HCs, OCHA offices and Humanitarian Country Teams. In particular, CRD supports OCHA in-country efforts to promote effective and inclusive coordination mechanisms in humanitarian contexts, including in highly insecure environments, multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations or special political mission environments, and humanitarian crises in transition. CRD serves as the main conduit of information and support between the field and Headquarters, facilitating effective interaction among all OCHA branches and its ROs/COs.
Office of the Director, Geneva
The Director Geneva oversees the daily management of the office and serves as Chair of the IASC Working Group. The five primary tasks of the office in Geneva are stewardship of inter-agency coordination; administrative service to Geneva and the field; development and management of emergency preparedness and response tools; resource mobilization; and collaboration with International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and other partners in disaster mitigation and preparedness. There are two branches under the Director Geneva — the External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch and the Emergency Services Branch. There are also three stand-alone sections: the Displacement and Protection Support Section; the Humanitarian Coordination Support Section; and the IASC Secretariat.
The Displacement and Protection Support Section (DPSS) supports the USG/ERC in inter-agency coordination of the protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons. Working with country offices, country teams, national authorities and global cluster leads, DPSS has four key priorities: monitor and strengthen the inter-agency response to internal displacement; support the implementation of OCHA policy instruction on protection at international and field levels; strengthen OCHA capacity to incorporate protection into core functions; and augment and maintain inter-agency capacity to respond to protection crises, particularly in situations of internal displacement through the Protection Standby Capacity Project initiative.
The Humanitarian Coordination Support Section (HCSS) was formed as a result of the merging of the Humanitarian Reform Support Unit and HCSS project entities. HCSS supports OCHA, IASC and other stakeholders to build and maintain an effective humanitarian coordination system by improving and strengthening cluster coordination mechanisms and leadership capacities at the field and global level. To this end, HCSS formulates policy development on coordination issues; supports OCHA country offices in making coordination structures work; identifies and grooms candidates for humanitarian coordination positions; trains coordination leaders; and develops knowledge management tools to support their work.
The IASC Secretariat facilitates the work of the IASC including its Working Group, chaired by the Director Geneva.
External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch
The External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch mobilizes resources and support for humanitarian operations and OCHA requirements, strengthens humanitarian strategies for major crises, and promotes greater quality and quantity of humanitarian funding. It also strengthens partnerships and information exchange with Europe-based institutions. The Public Information Officer provides the media with timely and relevant information on emergencies and OCHA activities.
The Consolidated Appeal Process Section (CAP) supports country and regional application of the CAP as a tool for strategic planning, prioritization, and monitoring of joint humanitarian action and funding appeals. It also supports related normative guidance development in the IASC and manages the Financial Tracking System.
The Donor Relations Section is primarily responsible for mobilizing extra-budgetary financial resources for the effective implementation of OCHA-budgeted activities. It is the donor community’s first point of contact in OCHA and it works closely with the OCHA Donor Support Group. The section also works with the Executive and Administrative Offices on allocating donor contributions based on donor agreements. The Geographical Coordination and Monitoring Section (GCMS) is the substantive focal point in OCHA Geneva for all humanitarian operation matters. During sudden-onset disasters, GCMS backs up CRD outside New York working hours, thereby enabling round-the-clock OCHA coverage. The Brussels Liaison Office focuses on European-based organizations, particularly the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, NGOs and the United Nations in Brussels. It influences their policies and decisions on humanitarian issues. The Liaison Office also monitors humanitarian policy debates and promotes the adoption and use of United Nations principles, guidelines and operational standards among partners.
Emergency Services Branch
The Emergency Services Branch ensures quick and effective response to natural disasters and other rapid-onset emergencies, using an integrated package of internationally recognized services and tools such as the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). The Civil-Military Coordination Section is the United Nations focal point for humanitarian civil-military coordination (UN-CMCoord) and use of foreign military and civil defence assets in humanitarian emergencies. The section is responsible for the United Nations Humanitarian and Civil-Military Coordination Training Programme, supports military exercises and is the custodian of related United Nations and IASC guidelines and documents. The Emergency Preparedness Section (EPS) reinforces systematic and coherent disaster preparedness work within OCHA, in support of international preparedness stakeholders at all levels.
EPS works in partnership with the disaster management community to enhance national authorities’ disaster response capacity. It also works to promote the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, in particular to strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels. The Environmental Emergencies Unit is the product of a partnership between OCHA and the United Nations Environment Programme to provide international assistance to countries facing environmental emergencies and natural disasters with significant environmental impact. The Emergency Relief Coordination Centre (ERCC) supports the organization’s coordination role in disasters and humanitarian emergencies. ERCC acts as the Secretariat for the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, which provides alerts and impact estimations after major sudden-onset disasters, and serves as a platform for operational information exchange and coordination to disaster responders worldwide. The Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) supports the USG/ERC in rapidly deploying human and material assets in a major disaster. It also supports RCs/HCs in establishing an On-Site Coordination Centre and in-country field coordination structures to manage emergency response. FCSS is responsible for managing UNDAC, INSARAG, the International Humanitarian Partnership, Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership and Americas Support Team. The Logistics Support Unit is the focal point within OCHA for non-military logistics issues, such as a stock of basic relief items, the global mapping of relief stockpiles and the deployment of the Disaster Response Teams of OCHA corporate partner, Deutsche Post DHL. The Surge Capacity Section (SCS) plays a central coordination and advisory role on staff surge within OCHA. It is responsible for the timely deployment of humanitarian professionals from the Stand-by Partnerships Programme and the OCHA Emergency Response Roster during the initial phase of emergencies and disasters, in support of RCs/HCs, Humanitarian Country Teams and COs. ESB also has oversight of the Pandemic Influenza Contingency Project, which assists United Nations, country teams and national governments to prepare and plan for pandemics using a coordinated, multi-sector approach, improving readiness in a major catastrophe.
Regional, Sub-Regional and Country Offices
In 2009, OCHA had six ROs: Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia; Central and East Africa; Southern Africa; and West Africa. The ROs extend the implementation of the OCHA mandate by supporting RCs and governments not serviced directly by OCHA COs. In particular, ROs concentrate on three sets of activities: supporting preparedness, including early warning and contingency planning; supporting emergency response; and developing regional coordination networks. The OCHA African Union Liaison Office also supports regional cooperation and facilitates interaction with the African Union.
The Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia Regional Office began operating from Cairo, following its mid-2009 transfer from Dubai. Meanwhile, Nairobi began operating as a Sub-Regional Office (SRO), following reorganization of the African RO structure in July 2009, with Central Africa being covered from Dakar and Eastern Africa from Johannesburg. OCHA had two additional SROs in Fiji and Almaty.
OCHA had 25 COs in 2009, including 13 in Africa and new offices set up late in 2009 in Yemen and the Philippines. Through their coordination activities on the ground and interaction with governments and other partners, and with strengthened internal management and administration practices, OCHA COs aim to support a more enabling environment for humanitarian action and a more effective humanitarian coordination system. For example, this includes predictable provision of coordination tools and services, support to humanitarian leadership and accountability, and effective facilitation of the programme cycle.