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One year on, World Humanitarian Summit scorecards are due

Humanitarian diplomacy reaches an annual peak at the ECOSOC events in Geneva. Here are the key events and reports to look out for

aid worker south sudan Stefanie Glinski/IRIN
Local aid workers are on the front lines of the humanitarian response

It’s report card time. The coming days will see a flurry of publications and announcements as the humanitarian community takes stock of commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit last May and assesses reforms. The diary includes a formal UN consultation and a blizzard of panels, launches, and side events in Geneva. Here’s a handy guide to what’s expected.

A deep breath please for this next bit: Next week is the humanitarian segment of the annual deliberations of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN General Assembly. The choice of theme, “Restoring Humanity and Leaving No One Behind: Working together to reduce people's humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”, reflects closer alignment between development goals and humanitarian action, including within the ECOSOC process.

The ECOSOC programme runs from 21 to 23 June. UN OCHA has more background on the agenda and some 20 side events.

Key document: the UN secretary-general’s 2017 report on “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” sets the scene and contains 26 draft recommendations (labelled a to z!) (20 pages)

On 20 June, about 50 signatories of the Grand Bargain reforms hold their annual meeting in Geneva. The alliance (now with its own micro website) is formed around a package of commitments that aim to expand the impact of aid agencies and donors by streamlining and tackling inefficiencies. The big UN agencies, the Red Cross Movement, and donors are on board, as well as some, but not all, of the major Western NGOs. Berlin-based think tank GPPi was commissioned to produce an annual progress report. The process relied largely on reporting from the participants themselves, balanced with other interviews and research. The full report will be launched on 22 June, but the authors will be available at a briefing at the IRIN office early on 21 June.

Key text: “Independent Grand Bargain Report” (GPPi, available 22 June, 92 pages)

The Grand Bargain process has so far been most active in the hallways of donor and aid agency headquarters. What difference has it made in the field? New research, commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will try to assess if the momentum of the Grand Bargain has been felt by the ultimate clients of the humanitarian enterprise: people in need. A report, prepared by Ground Truth Solutions, looks at the expectations and priorities of “beneficiaries” of humanitarian action surveyed in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Lebanon.

Full report to be released on 20 June and available online at: oe.cd/humdon.

Localisation remains one of the hottest debates in the sector and, as reported by IRIN back in March, thorny debates on definitions of “local” and the proper representation of financial flows are souring the atmosphere among stakeholders. Nevertheless, the principle of more resources and respect being due to local and national agencies is now firmly on the mainstream humanitarian agenda. An alliance of 29 pro-localisation NGOs, the Charter4Change, aims to lead by example by setting targets that go beyond the Grand Bargain commitments. Their first annual report will be out on 20 June.

Report (from 20 June): Charter for Change: From commitment to action progress report 2016/17

On 21 June, the UN will release its mid-year review of fundraising, the Global Humanitarian Overview Status Report. It will review UN-led funding appeals for $23.1 billion to help 101 million people in 2017. These are about 30 percent funded, leaving $16.1 billion still to find. Only the appeal for Niger has reached the halfway point. However, a significant shortfall compared to the sticker price is expected. Last year, UN-led appeals were 60 percent funded by the end of the year, so reaching 30 percent by mid-year may not represent such a bad performance.

More information: Global Humanitarian Overview 2017 (UNOCHA)

At the same event on finance on 21 June, Development Initiatives will launch their flagship Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2017. Liberally illustrated with infographics, this is the work of reference on humanitarian financing, providing the community with key statistics and analysis covering 2016. The GHA report merges UN and OECD data with original research and analysis to produce the most complete picture of conventional resources for humanitarian funding. Things to look out for: the headline figure of around $25 billion in total spending – did the “industry” peak in 2015 or hit a new high in 2016? The GHA will also update its estimate of the proportion of funds going to local and national NGOs (0.4 percent in 2015). Update: Development Initiatives also has a report on Grand Bargain transparency commitments.

More information: Global Humanitarian Assistance 2017

On 22 June, the management of risk and security in relief operations will be addressed in the release of a new report, “Presence and Proximity: To Stay and Deliver, Five Years On”. It reviews how the UN operates in high-risk environments and how its apparatus engages with others in areas of conflict and insecurity, including the practice of “remote management” and sharing the burden of risk. Five years ago, the UN altered its risk management process to allow it to stick around and evacuate less in insecure settings.

Report background: Presence and Proximity: To Stay and Deliver, Five Years On


Last but not least

Other recent humanitarian releases and events of note around the ECOSOC week include:

ICRC’s new study on the effects of urban conflict.

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has been holding its annual consultations with NGO partners, including discussions on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), a policy package following on from last year’s UN summit on forced displacement.


(TOP PHOTO: Local aid workers in South Sudan are on the front lines of the humanitarian response. Photo: Stephanie Glinski/IRIN)
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