African Union Liaison Office
- The African Union (AU), to which over 64 non-African countries and organizations are accredited, has become the principal strategic entry point for the UN and other international organizations in Africa.
- The concentration of humanitarian crises on the African continent makes the AU a natural institutional partner for OCHA.
- Main areas of OCHA and African Union Commission (AUC) collaboration include: policy development and protection of civilians; emergency response coordination; advocacy and information management; and resource mobilization.
- OCHA functions are aligned with three AUC departments/directorates: Political Affairs; Peace and Security; and Rural Economy and Agriculture.
Through its African Union Liaison Office – founded in September 2008 – OCHA and the AU will benefit from an effective engagement focused on enhancing the humanitarian response on the continent. This will be achieved through the establishment of processes, deliberations and improved policies inspired by existing international instruments and practice. Given the recent global trends affecting access and humanitarian needs, as well as the growing interest of Member States to become the first responders, the liaison office will improve dialogue on the wider humanitarian agenda with the continental organization. The office will work with the AU and the United Nations on issues related to humanitarian preparedness, advocacy and response.
In 2010, the liaison office will specifically ensure agreement is reached on modalities to enhance the participation of the AU and Member States in key humanitarian coordination fora, events and processes. The priority will be to ensure participation in humanitarian coordination group meetings, Member State briefings and workshops at headquarters, regional and country levels. Areas of institutional support to the AUC will include: early warning; emergency response coordination; policy development, including protection of civilians; advocacy and information management; and, resource mobilization.
OCHA will contribute to ongoing efforts to strengthen coherence; ensure relevant contributions to the UN-AU Cooperation-Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity-building Programme for the Africa Union; and increase awareness of humanitarian reform and challenges among AU organs and international community representatives. In addition, the liaison office will ensure the OCHA headquarter, regional and country office inputs for cooperation with the AU remain streamlined, relevant, timely and effective. In this context, OCHA will conclude discussions with the AUC on a Memorandum of Understanding on humanitarian issues and a two-year Plan of Action defining the roles and responsibilities of OCHA and the AU in enhancing the effectiveness of any future preparedness and response to humanitarian emergencies in Africa.
OCHA will seek to enhance the capacity of AUC humanitarian coordination structures, including but not limited to, the Coordination Committee on Assistance to IDPs, Returnees and Refugees, policies and tools. OCHA will pursue clear modalities for best practices and increased awareness of key humanitarian reform concepts. The liaison office will also enhance the understanding of relevant AUC departments and sections – as well as its Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) and partners – regarding the international community’s humanitarian coordination architecture and tools. This will include its most prominent resource mobilization mechanisms, Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Finally, the office will actively contribute to UN Secretariat initiatives to increase awareness among AU members and staff about inter-departmental management of crisis situations.