Coordination structures

States hold the primary responsibility to coordinate humanitarian relief within their borders (see National Disaster Response Management), and regional bodies such as the African Union or ASEAN may also coordinate responses that are regional in nature. Within the sector, at the global level the Inter-Agency Standing Committee sets key policy and priorities in the aim of coordinating the international response. At the intervention level, the responsibility for coordination of the international response falls upon the UN, and in particular the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) and OCHA. The 2005 UN Reform Process and the 2011 Transformative Agenda both aimed to strengthen international coordination, and notably put in place the cluster system whereby sectoral responses (health, food security, protection, etc) are coordinated across a given crisis.

Journalists and others listening to local liaison officer working with Relief Hope Recovery (GOA), one of several partners of the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) at Rhino refugee settlement, Uganda.

Photo: EU/ECHO/Edward Echwalu

Key actors

UN organ responsible for coordinating humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent and effective response, working in partnership with national authorities

Forum for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance, involving key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners

PHAP certifications

Certification badge for Understanding the Humanitarian Ecosystem (UHE)

Knowledge about coordination mechanisms (both UN-led and NGO and Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement mechanisms) is covered by the Understanding the Humanitarian Ecosystem (UHE) certification (competency statements 3.1 and 3.2).

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UN OCHA

Key references

Brief overview of coordination leadership, the cluster system, and inter-cluster coordination

Outlines the basic elements of cluster coordination and serves as a reference guide for field practitioners

Web portal with information on coordination, humanitarian leadership, clusters, and inter-cluster coordination

PHAP and ICVA Learning Stream on Humanitarian Coordination

Learning series with webinars and publications to help build stronger understanding of the various humanitarian coordination mechanisms and be better able to strategically engage in them at the country, regional, and global level.
Upcoming courses:

29 April-3 May:
Geneva

24-28 June:
Brussels

8-12 July:
Beirut