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Good Humanitarian Donorship

The Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative was launched in June 2003 at an international meeting which involved representatives of donor governments, UN agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other organisations involved in humanitarian action. Government and ECHO representatives at the meeting endorsed Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship which set out commonly agreed objectives for, and a definition of, humanitarian action, as well as a set of guiding principles and good practice examples of official donorship.

The recognition that official humanitarian assistance constitutes a distinctive subset of aid policy in donor governments is an historic shift — particularly at a time of increasing trends towards integrating security and aid policy overall. A total of 22 donors now participate in the initiative and several are progressing implementation plans at the domestic level. In addition, OECD DAC members endorsed GHD at the Ministerial level in April 2006.

The UK and Denmark currently co-chair the initiative, and convene ad hoc meetings of GHD donor representatives to progress implementation of pilot approaches and dialogue through multilateral fora. A web-site has been established which posts regular updates of progress, and provides a comprehensive list of resources.

HPG’s work on GHD

HPG has played an active role in engaging with the GHD process throughout its evolution. The initiative itself and its main conclusions were significantly influenced by the findings of a series of HPG studies. More recent work has involved reviewing progress and has explored the current obstacles to translating GHD commitments into widespread behavioural change among donors. Drawing heavily on lessons from donor efforts to implement the Rome and Paris declarations on aid effectiveness, HPG’s most recent paper considers the extent to which efforts to provide guidance and measure performance through the GHD initiative have succeeded in overcoming common obstacles to implementation. This work has also devised an enhanced performance measurement framework designed to assist in clarifying responsibilities and roles, strengthening guidance for donor staff and enhancing monitoring and evaluation. It has also made recommendations for donors and humanitarian agencies to strengthen and improve overall engagement with GHD.

Victoria Wheeler, Sue Graves