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Lost in translation: Managing coordination and leadership reform in the humanitarian system

Briefing/policy paper

Briefing/policy paper

Modern efforts to improve the leadership and coordination of humanitarian response at a systematic level date back to 1991 and UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182. Fourteen years later, a new phase commenced. This has seen existing financing mechanisms restructured, or new ones trialled. Global and country cluster leads have been introduced, and efforts made to strengthen the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) system. These are core elements of a broader project to enhance leadership and coordination.The Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) is undertaking a research project in 2006–2009 to analyse the operational consequences of humanitarian reform initiatives, and the interaction between them. This paper focuses on the cluster approach and efforts to strengthen the HC system. It draws on early findings from the longer research project, including extensive desk reviews of IASC and OCHA guidance documents, a desk review of previous relevant studies and interviews with representatives of NGOs, the ICRC, UN agencies and donors, at headquarters and in the field.

Sue Graves, Victoria Wheeler and Ellen Martin