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OCHA turns 30

16 Dec 2021

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Children in a camp for people displaced by conflict in north-west Syria. Credit: OCHA/Ali Haj Suleiman

19 December 2021 marks 30 years since UN Member States negotiated and adopted General Assembly resolution 46/182: “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations.” It remains the common basis for the provision of humanitarian assistance around the world. 

The pivotal resolution marked the international community’s collective commitment to help the world’s most vulnerable people when they need it most. It set out the principles that guide humanitarian work and enabled partnerships between Governments, the UN, non-governmental organizations and other humanitarian entities, such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies.

Resolution 46/182 introduced cohesion to humanitarian responses through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee at the global level and the Humanitarian Country Teams at the field level. It also propelled the creation of humanitarian mechanisms that are crucial to current operational responses, including the Emergency Relief Coordinator position, coordinated financial appeals (originally through the Consolidated Appeals Process) and the Central Emergency Revolving Fund, now known as the Central Emergency Response Fund.

The resolution also resulted in the creation of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA has an indispensable role not only in coordinating and mobilizing urgent humanitarian response, but also in guiding policy and practice and advocating on behalf of the millions of people worldwide who face the devastating effects of violent conflict and natural disasters.

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Since the resolution was adopted, steady efforts have aimed to improve humanitarian coordination and response. Key achievements include the Humanitarian Reform process in 2005, which focused on greater predictability, accountability, responsibility and partnership, and the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit’s Agenda for Humanity, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Despite such efforts, people affected by crises and the humanitarians who aim to help them face an uphill battle marked by ongoing conflicts and unprecedented global challenges, such as climate change and COVID-19. 

Testament to this, OCHA’s Global Humanitarian Overview for 2022 estimates that 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year. This is a significant increase from 235 million people one year ago, which was already the highest figure in decades. Humanitarian partners will aim to assist 183 million people most in need across 63 countries, which will require US$41 billion.

As long as disasters and violent conflicts continue to place civilians and humanitarian workers in extreme danger, resolution 46/182 will be urgently needed. We must continue to build on the good work of the past 30 years, seeking innovative and effective solutions to ensure no one is left behind.

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OCHA ON MESSAGE: GA RESOLUTION 46/182