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Operational consequences of humanitarian reform

 In 2005, an unprecedented amount of discussion on reform of the international peace, security and aid architecture took place aimed at improving the timeliness, appropriateness and equity of crisis response. The range of commitments made by donors and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee suggested that there is, at least at the rhetorical level, collective political will to respond rapidly to the humanitarian crises of the future, with resources provided up-front, and with strong sectoral coordination and leadership. Yet statements and deliberations at headquarters are often far removed from the day-to-day operational challenges of crisis response.

The project approach

This project, led by the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, seeks to assess the implications of  leadership, coordination and financing reforms for different humanitarian actors and the wider performance of the international humanitarian system against the backdrop of cross-UN reforms encompassing peace, security and the wider aid system.

More specifically, using qualitative and quantitative analysis it considers

  • The implications of financing reforms for volumes, timeliness, and the sectoral and geographical distribution of international humanitarian aid flows.

  •  The implications of humanitarian reforms and interactions between them in operational contexts with contrasting patterns of engagement by humanitarian and other international aid actors

  • The adequacy of the humanitarian reforms in face of current and future challenges including a growing and complex global humanitarian caseload as well as an increasing number of humanitarian emergencies taking place in hostile and complex political and security environments.

Conclusions will be published in late 2009.


Ellen Martin, Sue Graves and Victoria Wheeler

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