United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

21 June 1996



Fifty-first session                             Substantive session of 1996
Item 21 (a) of the preliminary                  Item 5 of the provisional
  list*                                           agenda**
  HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE OF THE                ** E/1996/100.  

* A/51/50.

                          Report of the Secretary-General


                                                           Paragraphs  Page

     I.   INTRODUCTION .....................................  1 - 4      3

    II.   THE CONTEXT OF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE ...........  5 - 20     4

          TO HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCIES .......................21 - 62     7

          A.    Follow-up by United Nations organizations to
              resolution 1995/56 ............................22 - 36     7

          B.  Role of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee ...37 - 39    11

          C.    Capacity restraints and limitations of the United
              Nations humanitarian system ...................40 - 62    12

          GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 46/182 ................63 - 104   17

          A.  Coordination tools ........................... 66 - 77    17

          B.  Response to complex emergencies .............. 78 - 83    20

          C.  Natural disasters and environmental emergencies 84 - 101  21

          D.  Mine clearance and related activities .........102 - 104  24

     V.   CONCLUSIONS .......................................105 - 115  25

Annex.  Central Emergency Revolving Fund ...............................29

                                  I.  INTRODUCTION

1.      In its resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991, the General Assembly
stated its deep concern about the suffering of the victims of disasters and
emergency situations, the loss in human lives, the flow of refugees, the mass
displacement of people and the material destruction, and set forth a number of
guiding principles and measures to strengthen the coordination of emergency
humanitarian assistance of the United Nations system.

2.      Four years later, in its resolution 1995/56 of 28 July 1995, the
Economic and Social Council recognized the need to review and strengthen the
capacity of the United Nations system for humanitarian assistance, and
requested the Secretary-General, in close cooperation with relevant
organizations of the United Nations system, to submit, at a date to be
determined by the Council at its substantive session of 1996, a comprehensive
and analytical report, including options, proposals and recommendations for a
review and strengthening of all aspects of the capacity of the United Nations
system for humanitarian assistance.

3.      The present report provides updates on both the progress achieved thus
far in responding to Economic and Social Council resolution 1995/56 and on the
implementation of General Assembly resolution 46/182.  Section II contains
observations on the environment in which humanitarian assistance is likely to
be required and provided in the coming years.  Section III, on the follow-up
to Council resolution 1995/56, provides a brief overview of the substantive
discussions on that resolution which have been held by the governing bodies of
relevant United Nations organizations, highlighting issues of system-wide
concern.  As requested in resolution 1995/56, United Nations organizations
will include, within their own reports to the Council, a more detailed account
of the deliberations of their governing boards.  Section III also deals with
the role of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in the follow-up process, and
summarizes the inter-agency consultations now under way in seven key areas of
systemic concern that were identified during inter-agency meetings and through
analysis of the discussions in the organizations' governing boards.

4.      Section IV reports on the implementation by the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs of General Assembly resolution 46/182.  As appropriate,
earlier sections also cover a number of issues pertaining to that resolution. 
The focus in that section is therefore on activities specific to the
Department both in complex emergencies and in natural disasters and
environmental emergencies.  The report concludes with observations on
challenges facing the United Nations humanitarian system and the forthcoming
review by the Economic and Social Council of the capacity of the system.  


5.      If present trends continue, humanitarian assistance in the coming
decade is likely to be provided in an increasingly complex environment - one
of internal conflicts and other situations where the international community
is called upon to engage in peacemaking, peace-keeping and post-conflict
peace-building efforts, to stabilize threatened societies, and to assist in
rebuilding war-torn communities.  The humanitarian community may also find
itself serving more and more as a safety net for fragile societies.

6.      To address both the needs of affected peoples and the root causes of
disasters and crises, the humanitarian community would benefit from a better
understanding of the context in which humanitarian assistance will be provided
in the future.  Humanitarian organizations will need to determine, in that
context, the extent to which they need to act as part of a far broader and
more proactive global network.  The humanitarian community will have to
consider how it will relate in the future to global economic and social
adjustments, to environmental and ecological concerns, and to human rights. 

7.      A more in-depth and elaborate examination of these issues is likely to
form part of the comprehensive review requested by the Economic and Social
Council in resolution 1995/56.  As a first step, this section reviews certain
issues that are likely to influence the requirements for humanitarian
assistance in the future.  These issues in turn suggest the type of
humanitarian responsibilities that may be faced in the future, and highlight
some important challenges with which the humanitarian community must contend

8.      Poverty increases vulnerability to both natural disasters and man-made
emergencies, and widening economic and social disparities can generate
tensions that in turn could lead to conflict.  Despite some positive
developments - decreases in infant mortality, increases in education,
prolonged life expectancy, and rapid economic growth and development in many
countries in Asia and Latin America - there are still 1.3 billion people
living in poverty and more than 800 million people suffering from hunger in
the developing world. 1/  The disparity between the rich and poor is growing: 
between 1960 and 1991 the share of the world income of countries with the
poorest 20 per cent of the world's population fell from 4.9 per cent to 3.6
per cent. 2/

9.      If current trends persist, the prospects for many of the least
developed countries are discouraging.  There is a danger that the poorest and
least developed countries will continue to experience little or negative
growth, and will become further marginalized from the world economy. 3/  Debt
burdens seem  likely to continue to cripple the economies of the least
developed countries; 4/ already, Africa's external debt burden now equals 83
per cent of the continent's GNP. 5/  Such debt levels frighten away foreign
investment and hinder domestic production.  Increasingly, official development
assistance (ODA) to many countries is targeted for debt repayment rather than
development, and the terms of trade for primary commodities are unlikely to
improve significantly. 6/

10.     Poverty often leads to environmental degradation; and degradation and
poverty combined further increase vulnerability.  As cultivation is extended
to low-lying plains or drought-prone lands, vulnerability to natural disasters
increases.  The growing shortages, and worsening quality, of fresh water
increases health risks, and deforestation compounds these problems through its
acceleration of land and water degradation.  In urban areas, it is the poor
who most often are forced to live in dense squatter settlements characterized
by unsanitary conditions, or near hazardous industrial plants.

11.     The future will demonstrate even more clearly that crises and
disasters are not aberrant phenomena but, on the contrary, reflections of how
the international community and national societies organize themselves and
allocate their resources.  Poverty not only leaves populations vulnerable to
the immediate effects of disaster and conflict, and under-equipped to rebuild
their livelihoods, but may undermine the very foundations of society and thus
exacerbate the risk of crisis.  

12.     In some cases, a combination of increasing poverty, deepening social
conflicts and weak institutions of governance may threaten the capacity of the
State to provide security and basic social services.  Rapid urbanization, 7/
often beyond the control of authorities, may contribute to the disintegration
of community bonds and social safety nets.  Perceived ethnic and other
differences may be exploited, and a cycle of hatred and violence initiated.

13.     Poverty, increasing vulnerability, and the uncertain evolution of some
States will continue to result in acute humanitarian needs.  Globalization
magnifies the impact of instability and conflict upon international peace and
security.  No longer can the ramifications of conflict be confined within
fixed borders.  The former Yugoslavia and the Great Lakes region of Africa are
but two examples where refugees, small arms and fighting units crossed borders
often enough and in sufficient numbers to threaten the stability of
neighbouring States.  The financial, political, and security burdens borne by
neighbouring States hosting asylum-seekers will continue to be enormous. 8/ 
Not only the number of asylum-seekers may increase, but also the number of
internally displaced, so that there is likely to be an increasing need for
humanitarian assistance throughout the world. 

14.     The changing political and economic environment has diminished the
strategic importance of many States in the eyes of donor countries, resulting
in the economic and political marginalization of some fragile States.  These
changing priorities, compounded by demands in donor countries to address
domestic requirements, may also have been partially responsible for
diminishing ODA, in real terms, over the past few years. 9/  Overall ODA funds
have stagnated and, in the case of some large donors, decreased dramatically,
despite general acknowledgement that assistance targeted at sustainable and
participatory development may help prevent and address the underlying causes
of complex crises.

15.     At the same time, despite the likelihood of sustained need for
humanitarian assistance, the amount of funding available from traditional
donor States, having jumped dramatically in the early 1990s, appears to be
levelling out and may even be decreasing.  In 1995, donor Governments met only
70 per cent of the funds requested in United Nations consolidated appeals for
humanitarian emergencies, down from 76 per cent in 1994.

16.     Resource mobilization is most successful for the high-profile crises
such as Rwanda (92 per cent of the consolidated appeal was funded) or the
former Yugoslavia (90 per cent); less is available for protracted complex
crises such as those in Afghanistan (33 per cent) and Somalia (30 per cent)
(figures are based on appeals launched in 1995).  Likewise, funding for
essential rehabilitation and reconstruction activities is sometimes scarce
because public interest has waned, and rehabilitation requirements fall
between the mandates of relief and development for many donors. 

17.     Also of immediate concern are the significant reductions occurring in
the provision of food assistance.  Food aid contributions for both development
and emergencies have declined dramatically in recent years - cereal
contributions dropped from 15 million metric tons in 1992/93 to only 8 million
metric tons in 1994/95. 10/  The reasons for this decline include both the
scarcity of food surpluses throughout the world (food stocks are nearing an
all-time low), in part driven by the liberalization of agricultural trade, and
the commensurate increase in food prices (less food can be purchased with the
same amount of donated funds), as well as the stagnation in ODA allocations.

18.     Internal conflicts, already a noticeable feature of the 1990s, are
likely to continue.  Although the objectives of armed groups differ, violence
is consistently directed against civilians and their means of subsistence. 
Today, 90 per cent of victims of conflict are non-combatants, mostly women and
children.  The violence and the targeting of civilians are changing the
demands made upon the humanitarian community.  Psycho-social rehabilitation
for children, rebuilding of destroyed educational facilities, and re-equipping
people with the tools necessary to start again are now all necessary
components of many humanitarian programmes.  Humanitarian assistance alone
cannot address the full scope of conflict-related problems - the effectiveness
of humanitarian assistance can often depend on adequate arrangements for the
protection of affected populations.

19.     The humanitarian community will continue to face some of its most
serious challenges in conflict settings.  The military nature of conflict will
often mean that humanitarian assistance will not be perceived as neutral,
because humanitarian assistance can be manipulated or diverted to further a
warring party's military objectives.  The risks and complexities faced by
relief workers are intensified by the indiscriminate availability and use of
arms and landmines, and by the frequent splintering of warring parties
themselves.  These issues make negotiations for relief access to affected
populations extremely problematic.  There is also increasing evidence of
violence targeted against humanitarian aid providers. 

20.     Humanitarian assistance helps victims but can rarely prevent
victimization; and it can be provided in a manner that reinforces local
capacity and perhaps avoids replicating past inequities.  However,
humanitarian assistance must be part of an integrated response; it is no
substitute for other international activities, political, military or
developmental, that address conflict and its root causes.


21.     Ultimately, the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to
humanitarian emergencies depends upon how well each United Nations agency
works, and works with and complements the other organizations within the
system.  For the system to attain the capacity to respond as effectively,
efficiently and rapidly as is optimal, the sum must be more than its parts. 
With this in mind, the Economic and Social Council requested both a
comprehensive report on the United Nations humanitarian assistance system and
reviews by the governing bodies of each constituent part of the United Nations

        A.  Follow-up by United Nations organizations to resolution 1995/56   

22.     In paragraph 2 (b) of its resolution 1995/56, the Economic and Social
Council urged the governing bodies of relevant organizations of the United
Nations system to review, during the period from 1995 to 1997, issues
concerning the role and operational responsibilities, as well as the operative
and financial capacities, of their respective organizations to respond, within
their mandates, in the context of broad and comprehensive humanitarian

23.     In response, substantive discussions on Council resolution 1995/56
have been held during 1996 in the Executive Boards and Committees of the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization
(WHO).  The resolution was reported to the Conference of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in October 1995, with FAO
follow-up to be considered at the next FAO Council session in October 1996. 
In all cases, the relevant organizations have informed their boards of the
process they propose to follow in addressing the issues raised in the
resolution, and have affirmed their commitment to the process established by
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee for ensuring an overall coherent response
to the resolution.  Member States have welcomed the response of agencies and
generally encouraged them to continue their participation in the Inter-Agency
Task Force led by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs on follow-up to the
Council resolution.

24.     As was foreseen in the Council's resolution, conclusions on the issues
raised therein are not necessarily anticipated in 1996, and therefore
discussions of some aspects have been of a preliminary nature.  For instance,
UNICEF is undergoing a fundamental review of its emergency role, both
strategic and operational proposals being put to its Board in 1996 and 1997. 
Nevertheless, it is already apparent that the identification of seven key
systemic issues by the Inter-Agency Task Force (see sect. III.C) relates very
precisely to the concerns of organizations and Member States in their
governing boards.

25.     Three issues have attracted particular attention and debate.  The
first concerns the links between relief operations and rehabilitation and
development activities.  In a UNICEF document on emergency operations,
submitted to its Executive Board in January 1996, attention was drawn to the
particular contribution UNICEF could make to emergency operations given its
strength in the development process and its continuing field presence.  This
was noted and welcomed by Executive Board members, and UNICEF will address
further the linkage between relief and development in a forthcoming paper for
its Executive Board.  UNICEF is strongly committed to the idea that
capacity-building is essential at all stages of an emergency, even at the
initial "survival" stage. 

26.     The focus of debate in the Standing Committee of UNHCR in April was on
the Office's role in countries of origin, particular attention being paid to
the need to strengthen links with development organizations, including the
Bretton Woods institutions.  UNHCR also highlighted to the Committee the
continuing importance of its Quick Impact Projects.

27.     The relationship between relief and development activities has for
some time been recognized as one which is not necessarily sequential.  Relief
and development activities proceed often at the same time, each therefore
having an impact upon the other.  Recognition of the limitations of the
paradigm of a linear continuum was reflected in recent debates in governing
boards and this recognition has given rise to the need to review the funding
arrangements for relief and development activities, to ensure that there is
clarity on the respective roles of consolidated appeals, round tables and
consultative groups. This question is being addressed by the Working Group of
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee and by the Consultative Committee on
Programme and Operational Questions of the Administrative Committee on
Coordination.  The Standing Committee has also decided to examine possible
modalities for associating the World Bank with its work.

28.     The United Nations Development Programme, in recognition of the need
for improved links between relief and development activities, has proposed a
number of approaches in papers presented to its Executive Board in May 1996. 
These include operational guidelines for the use of funds for successor
programming arrangements and, in particular, for the use of funds for
countries in special development circumstances.  These guidelines provide the
framework for the utilization of UNDP core funds to provide support, in
collaboration with relevant partners, to development efforts in response to
crisis, including activities of a preventative and curative nature, and to
contribute to meeting the immediate needs of countries experiencing
sudden-onset disasters and emergencies.  At the same time, the guidelines
provide for a contribution of UNDP to the formulation of a strategic framework
for international and national action, providing for a holistic approach to
the recovery needs of countries facing crisis.  The details of implementation
of these new arrangements have yet to be worked out and discussion with
members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, for example, will need to take
place to ensure an accountable and clear relationship between relief and
development organizations.  An analysis of these arrangements will be carried
out in time for the report to the Economic and Social Council in 1997.

29.     The UNDP Executive Board also discussed the role of United Nations
Volunteers (UNV) in tackling root causes of conflict and encouraged UNV to
intensify participation in the full spectrum of development, humanitarian and
peace activities of the United Nations system and its related organizations.

30.     The second major issue is the provision of assistance and protection
to internally displaced persons.  This is a subject of reference in all papers
presented to governing boards, with a consensus that much remains to be done
to clarify external institutional responsibilities, within the context of the
sovereign Government's capacity to respond to these needs.  UNHCR has restated
its willingness to respond to requests from the Secretary-General to provide
assistance.  While some members of its Executive Committee would like UNHCR to
play a more active role regarding internally displaced persons, other members
have taken a cautious line, urging UNHCR not to extend itself beyond its
"ceiling of effectiveness", a point accepted by UNHCR.  WFP has proposed that
the Emergency Relief Coordinator, in consultation with members of the
Inter-Agency Standing Committee, might consider, in specific circumstances,
the designation of a "lead operational agency" for these responsibilities. 
UNDP has stated that it sees its role as providing assistance in the
prevention and resettlement phases; the UNDP Governing Council has urged UNDP,
jointly with UNHCR, to carry out activities related to providing development
assistance to displaced populations.  The responsibilities of UNICEF for
assistance and protection to internally displaced persons are being elaborated
and will inevitably draw on the fact that most internally displaced persons
are women and children.

31.     Within the United Nations system, the Emergency Relief Coordinator is
the entry point for this matter.  To assist the Coordinator in discharging
these responsibilities an Inter-Agency Task Force on internally displaced
persons was established in 1995.  The work of this Task Force has now been
formally linked by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to Economic and Social
Council resolution 1995/56 as the forum for inter-agency consultations on this
key systemic issue.  It is anticipated that the Standing Committee will be
able to submit its recommendations to the Council on the division of
responsibilities, among United Nations organizations, for addressing both
assistance to and the protection needs of internally displaced persons.

32.     The third major issue is coordination in complex emergencies.  This is
one of the seven systemic issues identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force in
the follow-up to Council resolution 1995/56.  Governing bodies placed strong
emphasis on the need for agencies to support the central coordination role of
the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.  In January 1996, the Standing
Committee of UNHCR confirmed its view that coordination at the field level in
complex emergencies could best be managed through the designation of a lead
agency by the Emergency Relief Coordinator in consultation with the
Inter-Agency Standing Committee.  This aspect of coordination is to be
addressed, with more detailed analysis, in inter-agency consultations. 

33.     A second aspect of coordination in complex emergencies which has
received some attention is the necessity of operational "predictability"
within the United Nations humanitarian system.  For instance, were WFP to take
on a larger logistics role in the transport of non-food items, it would have
to be clear that these services would be dependably provided in any complex
emergency even if circumstances did not require a major WFP presence for food
provision. Similarly, UNICEF's mandate gives it an obligation to provide
assistance and protection for women and children, and this responsibility is
reflected in the paper it submitted in January to its Executive Board.  The
specific responsibilities of UNICEF for needs assessment and the
rehabilitation of essential social service networks, as well as for advocacy
on child issues, must be further defined in operational contexts with its
partners, to ensure efficient complementarity.  "Predictability" was also
raised at the January meeting of the Standing Committee of UNHCR.

34.     It is within the framework of memoranda of understanding that the
question of predictability will be resolved, as it is in such documents that
accountability for services will be identified, and the respective roles and
responsibilities of relief and development actors delineated.  Agencies
continue to progress in the development of memoranda of understanding - an
issue also raised in Council resolution 1995/56.  A memorandum of
understanding has been signed between UNICEF and UNHCR.  Work is in progress
on similar arrangements between UNICEF and, respectively, WFP, WHO and the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 
Cooperative arrangements are under discussion between UNHCR and, respectively,
the World Bank, UNDP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM),
as well as between WFP and the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), and between ICRC and UNICEF. UNHCR, in addition to its memorandum of
understanding with WFP (signed in 1991), has signed memoranda with the United
Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Population
Fund (UNFPA).  Memoranda of understanding with non-governmental organizations
are also being developed:  UNICEF is developing a generic format, while WFP
has signed (in 1995) a first memorandum with Catholic Relief Services. 
Finally, the importance of the link between relief and development agencies
argues strongly the case for the elaboration of memoranda of understanding
between UNDP and other organizations of the United Nations system, and this is
being pursued by UNDP.  Clearly, with this large number of memoranda of
understanding being elaborated and already signed it is important to ensure
that bilateral memoranda add up to a coherent humanitarian response system.

35.     A third aspect of coordination has been the establishment of stand-by
arrangements with external assets to provide for increased emergency response
at times of special need.  In addition to the recent strengthening of its
emergency response capacities, UNHCR has developed a programme of "service
packages" which was referred to in its Standing Committee in January 1996. 
These packages are contractual arrangements between UNHCR and Governments
which have, principally, military and civil defence assets which could be
called on at times when the emergency response capacity of UNHCR requires
reinforcement.  Likewise, WFP has developed eight logistics service packages. 
In addition, UNICEF is in the process of developing similar arrangements to
supplement its recently created Rapid Response Team and its improved emergency
stockpile.  To ensure that the use of these external assets is managed in the
most effective manner, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs has established
a Military and Civil Defence Unit as a service to agencies, donors of assets,
and recipient Governments (see sect. IV.A).  The Department and UNV have also
undertaken to develop the White Helmets Initiative, which aims to encourage
the use of newly created national volunteer corps to support relief and
recovery efforts.  Pilot UNV/White Helmets Initiative projects are already
being tried in several countries, such as Haiti, Lebanon and Rwanda.  

36.     In the context of the ongoing efforts by United Nations organizations
to strengthen capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies, Economic and
Social Council resolution 1995/56 is having a considerable impact on the way
in which organizations and bodies plan their response to emergency operations,
and this is reflected in the attention paid to the resolution in the
deliberations of governing boards.  Arrangements have been put into place to
follow up on the issues raised in the resolution, with a view to submitting
comprehensive reports to the Council in 1997.  In all cases, the agencies,
organizations, programmes and funds of the United Nations system are
approaching the issues raised in a manner which provides for effective debate
at the level of governing boards and with a view to submitting views and
recommendations to the Council for the review of the capacity of the system. 
Key systemic issues have been identified and are being addressed in a
collaborative manner by the relevant organizations, and governing boards are
being kept informed about the links between their debates and those taking
place in other forums.

            B.  Role of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

37.     The Inter-Agency Standing Committee and its Working Group have served
as a key tool for inter-agency coordination on a variety of pressing
humanitarian issues, including the follow-up to Economic and Social Council
resolution 1995/56.  In 1995, the inter-agency mechanism provided a forum for
agencies to coordinate work on specific emergency operations, and to develop
common system-wide positions on landmine issues and on the utilization of
military and civil defence assets for humanitarian assistance.  In the first
half of 1996, the Standing Committee addressed the follow-up to the
multi-donor evaluation study on Rwanda, the humanitarian impact of sanctions,
the consolidated appeals process and resource mobilization.

38.     The Standing Committee and its Working Group act as a clearing-house
for all work undertaken as follow-up to Council resolution 1995/56.  This
approach encourages consistency in the dialogues between agencies, their
governing bodies, and Member States, as well as on the measures being taken to
address issues raised in the resolution.

39.     In its resolution 1995/56, the Council requested the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs to convene regular, informal and open information
meetings with Member States, observer States and relevant intergovernmental
and other organizations on the review of the issues so as to ensure that they
are coherently addressed and appropriately reflected in the report of the
Secretary-General.  To fulfil this request, the Department has briefed Member
States on the follow-up to the resolution and solicited their comments and

             C.  Capacity restraints and limitations of the United
                         Nations humanitarian system                      

40.  Deliberations during the inter-agency sessions on the follow-up to
Economic and Social Council resolution 1995/56 focused primarily on ensuring a
coherent and coordinated approach.  Through inter-agency discussions and a
review of agency deliberations, seven key issues of a systemic nature which
would benefit from further inter-agency consultations were identified: 
coordination, resource mobilization, relief and development, staff
development, monitoring and evaluation, strengthening local capacity and
coping mechanisms, and internally displaced persons.

41.  Members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee concluded that the task of
reviewing these issues and recommending improved practices and methods would
best be further pursued in a series of informal consultations.  Proposals
emanating from these consultations will be submitted to the Standing Committee
or its Working Group with a view to making recommendations to the Economic and
Social Council in 1997.  The following section presents the parameters of
debate and discussion in each of the substantive areas.  In six of seven areas
an inter-agency sub-working group has been formed to facilitate inter-agency

                         1.  Coordination

42.  The Department of Humanitarian Affairs is the entity within the United
Nations whose main purpose is to ensure timely, coherent and coordinated
humanitarian responses by the international community to disasters and complex
crises.  It is particularly charged with ensuring the effective coordination
of United Nations humanitarian assistance, and acting as a facilitator with
respect to international organizations and non-governmental organizations. 
The tools created to promote coordination, such as the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee, the Central Emergency Revolving Fund, the consolidated appeals
process, the complex emergency training initiative, the disaster management
training programme and the secondment of personnel to other United Nations
bodies, have improved significantly, but a number of issues remain to be
addressed to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of coordination. 

43.  An inter-agency sub-working group on coordination will review the current
situation regarding options for field coordination.  The sub-working group
will examine a number of distinct examples of existing field coordination
mechanisms, and identify what lessons can be learned for improved practice in
different emergency settings.  From these lessons it is anticipated that
principles and criteria which should be the underlying objectives of the
exercise of coordination will become clear:  principles such as impartiality,
neutrality, transparency and accountability, and criteria such as
responsiveness, programme integrity, adaptability and flexibility.  In turn,
these standards would be used to provide a more rational basis for the
establishment of coordination mechanisms appropriate for each unique emergency

44.  With these principles as a basis, a number of issues will be addressed. 
Appropriate coordination mechanisms during and between different phases of
complex emergencies (relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, development) must
be defined.  Definition of the scope and form of coordination mechanisms
appropriate in demobilization, reintegration and mine action programmes will
be undertaken.  The identification of the multiple actors (United Nations,
bilaterals, multilaterals, donors, non-governmental organizations, government
authorities, beneficiaries, etc.) and multiple levels (international,
regional, national, local) engaged in humanitarian assistance response and the
appropriate coordination mechanisms for these complex interactions will be
addressed.  In addition, the refinement of previously established coordination
tools and decision-making processes and procedures at the Headquarters,
regional and in-country levels will continue.

                             2.  Resource mobilization

45.  Against a backdrop of a growing number of emergencies, escalating relief
requirements and scarce donor resources, there is an urgent need to ensure
that effective and coordinated mechanisms for the mobilization of resources
are in place and that there is enhanced accountability in the utilization of
contributions received.  The sub-working group on resource mobilization has
been established to facilitate inter-agency consultations on key areas where
systemic limitations or variations in capacity may exist.

46.  At the meeting of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in April 1996,
seven priority areas were identified for consideration by the sub-working
group on resource mobilization.  These include the process for prioritization
of funding requirements, the utilization of "flash appeals" to ensure timely
response to critical first phase emergency needs, the relationship among
various funding mechanisms, and ways to enhance advocacy and public
information strategies with a focus on the resources necessary for the
provision of humanitarian assistance.

47.  In its review of the relationship of existing resource mobilization
mechanisms such as the consolidated appeal, the round table and consultative
groups, the sub-working group should consider how best to ensure an effective
resource mobilization strategy for the range of relief, recovery and
rehabilitation activities essential to the provision of emergency and
post-conflict assistance.  These issues will be reviewed in close
collaboration with the Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational
Questions which is currently examining the key elements and resource
implications of a post-conflict recovery strategy and framework.

48.  The sub-working group will consider current procedures for reporting on
programme implementation and financial requirements.  It will formulate
recommendations on how to strengthen monitoring, analysis and provision of
information on achievements and difficulties experienced, drawing particular
attention to strategic funding shortfalls which may limit the implementation
or effectiveness of priority activities.  Another area for consideration is
how to enhance the availability of information on global humanitarian
assistance being provided by the international community, through both United
Nations and non-United Nations channels.  The sub-working group will prepare
recommendations on how better to reflect the value of assistance provided
through bilateral, non-governmental and other organizations, the costing of
military and civil defence assets in support of humanitarian operations and
the value of service packages.

                         3.  Relief and development

49.  Increasing emphasis is being placed on ways in which, in the immediate
aftermath of humanitarian and political crises, post-conflict recovery
programmes that link relief and development can support peace processes by
addressing the immediate needs of conflict-affected societies.  At the same
time, there are situations, though not conflict induced, where extensive
humanitarian assistance is required while at the same time there is a vital
need to pursue development. 

50.  Significant efforts are being made, by the Administrative Committee on
Coordination and the Standing Committee among others, to establish closer
working relations between the Bretton Woods institutions and other
humanitarian and development agencies within the United Nations system.  In
addition, increased integration of relief and development activities requires
the donor community to suggest ways in which the normally highly
compartmentalized funds for relief and development can themselves be linked.

                          4.  Staff development

51.  In the area of human resource development, many agencies recognize the
need for a broader human resources management policy and strategy.  Renewed
impetus is given to staff development in view of its crucial role in achieving
the organization's objectives.  There is general recognition of the need for
the development of management capacities, and strategic thinking as an
essential tool of managerial capacity. 

52.  In the humanitarian field, a human resources development strategy
requires a package of interconnected measures including training.  The United
Nations staff involved in humanitarian activities are compelled to strengthen
their capacity to deal with a constantly changing environment.  Specific
agencies generally have staff development programmes reflecting agency
priorities and a specific organizational perspective.  There is however also a
critical need for a more cohesive approach to human resource development, in
general, and training at the United Nations system level, in particular, in
order to improve collective performance. 

53.  The sub-working group on staff development took into account work related
to human resource development currently under way in the Administrative
Committee on Coordination and in other inter-agency forums.  The Department of
Humanitarian Affairs and UNDP are jointly managing the disaster management
training programme.  In addition, the United Nations Staff College is being
launched at the International Training Centre of the International Labour
Organization at Turin, and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs is
facilitating the complex emergency training initiative.  In the light of these
ongoing programmes, the sub-working group is now identifying non-training
issues related to staff development.

                           5.  Monitoring and evaluation

54.  The need to improve the effectiveness, transparency and accountability,
to victims and donors, of emergency relief operations has been widely
recognized by Governments and relief agencies.  Member States are increasingly
concerned with issues related to cost-effectiveness and the impact of
humanitarian assistance, as evidenced by the recent multi-donor study on

55.  The United Nations humanitarian agencies have well-established monitoring
and evaluation units which provide recommendations and feedback aimed at
improving the quality of their activities.  Such activities however tend to be
agency-specific and little effort so far has gone into joint or inter-agency
monitoring or evaluation mechanisms which could examine the interface between
agency-specific activities and the overall direction of a multi-agency
humanitarian programme.  The consequence is that coherent coordination of the
programme, and accountability, is more difficult. 

56.  The sub-working group on monitoring and evaluation has agreed that a
first priority is to study one or more large-scale humanitarian programmes in
order to recommend a practical system for the monitoring of overall United
Nations humanitarian assistance in emergency situations.  Such recommendations
would build on existing agency-specific monitoring activities, and identify a
simple and practical system for monitoring those aspects of a multi-agency
humanitarian programme that are relevant to its overall coordination and
direction. Subsequently, work will be initiated on the development of joint
evaluation methodologies and procedures, taking into account existing United
Nations concepts and practices, and in close consultation with the different
United Nations committees working on the issue of monitoring and evaluation
guidelines, such as Joint Consultative Group on Policy and the Consultative
Committee on Programme and Operational Questions. 

             6.  Strengthening local capacity and coping mechanisms
57.  Complex crises tend to have structural and deep-rooted causes which have
inhibited or undermined the ability of different groups to participate fully
in the socio-economic and political development of their society.  Those who
are most vulnerable to crises are almost invariably those who are already
marginalized and least able to shape events which impact on their ability to
survive.  Crises are self-evidently destructive in human and financial terms. 
They exact a heavy toll on physical infrastructure, natural assets, and
people's ability to maintain their usual means of livelihood.  Crises also
tend to inflict serious damage on the social fabric which binds societies

58.  It is increasingly clear that a major determinant in the overall
effectiveness of humanitarian action is the extent to which it either
strengthens or erodes the inherent capacity and coping mechanisms of affected
communities.  Building indigenous institutional capacity to respond to relief
requirements is not sufficient; there also needs to be a thorough
understanding of the overall capacities and coping mechanisms of the
communities in need of assistance and the larger factors which shape their

59.  Some progress has been made in developing tools and procedures to
identify those who are most vulnerable, to assess the needs, and to define
strategies which strengthen the resources of communities threatened by crisis.

For instance, WFP has initiated a programme to strengthen local capacities for
disaster mitigation, which includes field-level vulnerability analyses.  None
the less, in many settings, particularly in large-scale, sudden and fast-paced
population movements, humanitarian agencies face major challenges in ensuring
that their activities do not undermine capacities or generate dependency.

60.  After preliminary consultations, the sub-working group on local capacity
and coping mechanisms will commence a review of the concepts, operational
definitions and current practices throughout the different phases of a crisis.
Once this has been completed, the most appropriate means of assessing the
impact of humanitarian action on local capacity and coping mechanisms will be
determined.  On the basis of these findings, the sub-working group will
examine the extent to which the different approaches add up to a coherent
strategy necessary to reinforce capacity and coping mechanisms in a meaningful
and integrated fashion, and then will identify additional effective practices
and procedures.

                          7.  Internally displaced persons

61.  Concerns about how the system as a whole addresses internally displaced
persons in terms of assistance and protection are being reviewed by the
Inter-Agency Task Force on internally displaced persons which was created to
support the Emergency Relief Coordinator in his/her role as reference point on
the question within the United Nations.  There is a clear need for additional
definition of the institutional responsibilities of agencies within the United
Nations system.  UNHCR, despite having considerable activities for internally
displaced persons, relates to these populations as an extension of its general
mandate and not as a population group of specific mandated concern.  UNICEF
and WFP act in response to their respective mandates on women and children and
food provision, whenever and wherever people are vulnerable, whether they be
refugees, displaced or resident populations.  

62.  Additional clarity is needed regarding the activities of individual
United Nations organizations vis-a`-vis other United Nations and non-United
Nations humanitarian agencies, and within the context of the capacity of the
sovereign Government to respond to the needs of internally displaced persons. 
In a humanitarian emergency, the specific assistance and protection needs of
those persons, and the ability of the international community to address them,
are often quite distinct from those of  refugees, returnees, or even needy
residents.  As the humanitarian emergency phase winds down and reintegration
becomes a possibility, there are also special requirements, both normative and
substantive, for addressing the needs of internally displaced persons.  In the
coming year, the Task Force will draw attention both to the medium-term and
long-term policy issues, and to the review of operational arrangements related
to country-specific situations of displacement.

                      OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 46/182              

63.  Since its creation in 1992 pursuant to General Assembly resolution
46/182, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the Secretariat has grown
into an effective facilitator for the coordination of both natural and complex
emergencies, and has increased its capacity to act as an advocate of
humanitarian assistance in the context of both political and humanitarian
policy discussions, and with respect to resource mobilization for humanitarian

64.  During the past year, the Department underwent an internal strategic
planning exercise followed by an independent management study to identify both
its core activities and its appropriate level of resources, and to assess its
effectiveness.  The management study confirmed that the Department is a
dynamic, responsive and reflective institution but acknowledged that its
ultimate success will depend largely on the support of Member States and other
organizations within the United Nations system.  The management study did
identify a few areas for improvement, including greater emphasis on policy and
evaluation, improved collection, analysis and dissemination of information,
better administrative procedures, and a need for staff development and
training programmes.  Since then the Department has taken a number of actions
to address identified problems, including administrative and departmental
adjustments to bring about greater synergy between the work of the New York
and Geneva offices, and greater utilization of common services for both
complex emergencies and natural disasters. 

65.  It was recognized in the 1995 report to the Economic and Social Council
and the General Assembly that the limited regular budget funding available to
the Department posed significant constraints on its capacity to coordinate an
accelerated incidence of complex emergencies.  On the basis of the internal
and external reviews and studies referred to above, a financial strategy for
addressing the Department's extrabudgetary requirements has been established. 
With appropriate donor support, this strategy could place the Department on a
sound financial footing and ensure predictable resources to carry out its work
in the longer term. 

                            A.  Coordination tools

66.     By its resolution 46/182, the General Assembly created the post of
Emergency Relief Coordinator, and a number of tools for use by that official
in fulfilling the coordination mandate, such as the Central Emergency
Revolving Fund and the consolidated inter-agency appeal process.  The
Department of Humanitarian Affairs continues to hone these tools to ensure
their effectiveness and their appropriateness in a time of changing demands
and operational realities.  The Department has also developed a number of
additional tools, instruments evolved to meet new needs and new environments,
such as an information-sharing system on the Internet, and the use of military
and civilian assets. 

                      1.  Central Emergency Revolving Fund

67.     The Central Emergency Revolving Fund continues to serve as one of the
main sources of funding for United Nations agencies in need of a timely
response to emergencies.  During 1995, the Fund was utilized to supplement the
agencies' own funding for emergencies in Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda and the
Great Lakes region. Details of advances made to and reimbursements received
from operational agencies as well as the status of the Fund are given in the
annex.  While the Fund's usefulness is well acknowledged, certain concerns and
constraints remain to be addressed in order to ensure its continued

68.     As reported to the Council and the General Assembly in 1995, the Fund
has been utilized, on a limited number of occasions, for protracted
emergencies in order to avert critical interruption or scaling down of
much-needed humanitarian relief activities.  Since the Fund was established
primarily to ensure a timely response in the initial phase of an emergency,
the Council may wish to review this matter and formally authorize, in
compelling circumstances, the use of the Fund to fulfil the critical
humanitarian requirements of protracted emergencies.

69.     One other concern is the need for timely replenishment of the Fund. 
Delayed reimbursements have had a serious impact on the Fund's ability to meet
requirements in emergency situations.  The Department of Humanitarian Affairs
has taken steps to reinforce existing procedures, including shortening the
period for reimbursement or encouraging partial repayment wherever feasible
and drawing late reimbursements to the attention of donors in consolidated
appeals. The Department has also invoked the relevant provisions of the
guidelines governing the Fund's operation related to the recovery of delayed

70.     Despite these initiatives, however, a number of advances have remained
outstanding for more than one to two years owing to weak responses to certain
appeals.  This matter has been drawn to the attention of the Council and the
General Assembly.  One of the affected agencies has noted that, as a result of
its inability to reimburse, it will not be borrowing from the Fund in the
future, except when it has secured pledges; this weakens the concept of the
borrowing facility.  The only remaining alternative for recovery of these
advances would be to seek specific donor contributions to cover the
outstanding advances so that the Fund's level of resources can be maintained
at the minimum of $50 million stipulated in General Assembly resolution

71.     In the context of its review of the humanitarian capacity of the
United Nations as set out in its resolution 1995/56, the Economic and Social
Council may also wish to address the overall issue of strengthening the Fund,
expanding its scope and broadening its resource base so as to make it an even
more effective instrument for emergency response.  

                                 2.  Early warning

72.     Recognizing that prevention and preparedness is the most effective way
to reduce conflict-induced human suffering, work has continued on developing
an early-warning system within the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.  The
purpose of the Humanitarian Early Warning System is to compile and analyse
information from several varied sources so as to identify potential crises
that may have humanitarian implications.  The System draws upon the various
early-warning mechanisms of other United Nations and non-United Nations
organizations, and by collaborating with non-governmental organizations as
sources of information and partners in assessing situations.  With the
information provided by the System, the Department is able to focus attention
on situations of concern in discussions with humanitarian partners, including
United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, and with other
departments of the United Nations Secretariat, in particular the Department of
Political Affairs and the Department of Peace-keeping Operations, through the
"framework for coordination". 

73.     The next step in strengthening the Humanitarian Early Warning System
is the development of a strong, effective and regular channel of communication
with field offices and regional information systems such as the Department's
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), maintained at Nairobi, as well
as with regional organizations such as the Organization of African Unity,
which itself has recently established an early-warning system for conflict
situations in Africa.

                               3.  ReliefWeb

74.     When a crisis occurs, information disjunctures and information
overload can be major obstacles in the effective coordination of international
humanitarian assistance.  Recognizing the need for better information
management, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, in cooperation with
interested Governments and United Nations and non-governmental organizations,
has established an interconnected, global information network known as

75.     The information on ReliefWeb, in the form of situation reports,
appeals, evaluations, news reports, maps, financial tracking and country
information from the Humanitarian Early Warning System, is produced by the
international humanitarian community and maintained by the Department. 
ReliefWeb consolidates and organizes this information on emergencies and
disasters, and ensures that it is current, easily retrievable, and readily
accessible on the Internet.  Where the Internet is not available, information
from ReliefWeb can be disseminated using e-mail or CD-ROM.  

              4.  Use of military and civil defence assets

76.     Military and civil defence assets, used in the past with some
regularity in response to natural disasters, have now been recognized as
having a useful  potential role in response to complex crises as well,
particularly in the case of sudden-onset emergencies.  In accordance with a
decision taken by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs established the Military and Civil Defence Unit, which
reports to an Advisory Panel established by the Standing Committee.  The Unit
aims to facilitate timely, sufficient and cost-effective support by military
and civil defence assets to concerned humanitarian agencies when requested. 
It will act as a focal point for Governments, regional organizations and
military and civil defence institutions interested in planning and, when
requested, providing support to agencies engaged in humanitarian operations. 
The Unit will support the establishment of preparedness and response measures,
the development of planning tools (databases, manuals), the definition of a
legal framework for the use of military and civil defence assets, and the
preparation and implementation of training exercises. 

77.     Prior to the establishment of the Military and Civil Defence Unit, the
Department's Military and Civil Defence Assets project finalized, with the
cooperation of representatives of 30 countries, a Military and Civil Defence
Assets Field Manual which defines pre-planning and crisis management options. 
In addition, a reference document for coordination of humanitarian air
operations was prepared by a Military and Civil Defence Assets working group,
and the first set of Military and Civil Defence Assets training modules was
finalized.  The products of these activities have been taken up by the
Governments participating in the Partnership for Peace programme, and applied
in emergencies such as those in Cape Verde, Rwanda and Ukraine.  The Military
and Civil Defence Assets project and the Military and Civil Defence Unit will
be merged into a single unit. 

                        B.  Response to complex emergencies

78.     The Department of Humanitarian Affairs has continued to develop its
capacity to respond to ongoing and incipient complex emergencies.  As well as
developing ongoing training programmes including the complex emergency
training initiative mentioned above, this has been achieved inter alia through
the inter-agency consolidated appeals and related processes, and the
consolidation of headquarters and field structures.

79.     The consolidated inter-agency appeals process remains a central tool
in coordinating the response of humanitarian partners to complex emergencies. 
Since September 1995, some US$ 2.5 billion has been requested in 12 appeals,
and a total of $795 million has been pledged to date or carried over.  Some
25 million people have been targeted to receive assistance through the appeals
covering Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iraq,
Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and the former Yugoslavia, and the
Caucasus region, the Chechnya region of the Russian Federation and the Great
Lakes region.  In addition, the importance of flash appeals has yet again been
confirmed in 1996, as illustrated by the flash appeal for internally displaced
persons made on 19 April 1996 as a result of the emergency in Lebanon, the
response to which was well in excess of the funding requirements. 

80.     The response of the Department to complex emergencies has also been
strengthened by the continued rapid deployment of departmental missions, often
with the active participation of other United Nations bodies.  These missions
have been fundamental, first, in drawing the attention of the international
community to the plight of affected populations and, secondly, in assessing
the needs of vulnerable groups for the subsequent planning, elaboration and
implementation of humanitarian programmes. In each case, the subsequent
evaluation has been linked to the process of defining the most appropriate
strategy for resource mobilization, be it through detailed situation reports,
flash appeals or consolidated inter-agency appeals. 

81.     The Department of Humanitarian Affairs has also continued a process of
mid-term review of a number of humanitarian programmes, whereby the
achievements and constraints of ongoing programmes have been identified and
reviewed.  This tool has been valuable to all humanitarian partners, and has
contributed to improving the response of the Department to ongoing and
incipient complex emergencies.  

82.     In the context of ongoing complex emergencies, 14 field structures are
currently staffed by the Department in Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, Liberia,
Sierra Leone, Somalia and the Sudan, and the Caucasus region (Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia), the Chechnya region of the Russian Federation and the
Great Lakes region (Burundi, Rwanda and the IRIN office at Nairobi).  In
addition, an office of the Department was deployed to Sarajevo, to support the
office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Special
Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The Department's
Field Coordination Unit in Tajikistan was closed at the end of 1995, as that
country moved towards continued rehabilitation and restructuring. 

83.  The Department's Field Coordination Units provide support for the
coordination functions performed by the humanitarian coordinator in the field,
including promotion of sectoral coordination and implementation of
humanitarian strategies which are agreed upon by all humanitarian agencies in
the country. The fundamental role of the units is performed through
information sharing, defining common strategies to address ongoing
humanitarian requirements, promoting joint needs assessments, assisting
agencies in identifying specific roles, and avoiding overlap and duplication. 

                   C.  Natural disasters and environmental emergencies

84.     A critical component of the implementation of General Assembly
resolution 46/182 by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs is work related to
the reduction and mitigation of, and the response to, natural disasters and
environmental emergencies.  Such disasters continue to cause great suffering
and vast material loss throughout the world, especially in developing

                      1.  Reduction and mitigation activities

85.     During the reporting period, the Department has continued its efforts
towards integrated and concerted approaches in the field of natural disaster
prevention, preparedness and mitigation.  These efforts have been undertaken
on the basis of the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action, adopted by the World
Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction of May 1994.  The work of the
Department includes technical cooperation in support of concrete application
of natural disaster reduction at the country level.  

86.     The secretariat for the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction has continued to support and coordinate the implementation of the
Decade's targets and its overall objective of reducing, through concerted
international action, the loss of life, material destruction, and social and
economic disruption which occur as a consequence of natural disasters. 
Particular consideration and support is extended to the needs of the most
vulnerable communities, mostly in the developing world.  Major challenges in
implementing the goals of the Decade relate to the creation of constructive
linkages between  natural disaster reduction, natural resource protection,
environmental management, and the achievement of sustainable development. 
Pursuant to the request of the General Assembly, a detailed report on the
implementation of the International Framework of Action for the Decade is
being submitted in 1996 under the item entitled "Environment and sustainable

87.     The broad strategy for pre-disaster activities has been established
through consultation with country authorities and intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations.  However, a continuing problem is the lack of
sustained commitment and systematic attention to risk reduction.  Each new
catastrophe typically triggers closer attention to mitigation measures, at
least for the disaster type in question, but such attention is often localized
and short-lived and, as a result, the global socio-economic impact of
disasters, measured in terms of the number of people affected by disaster, has
continued to increase by about 6 per cent per year.

88.     The only way to stop this increase, and its dramatic impact on
sustainable development and environmental degradation, is to initiate
long-term mitigation programmes.  It is also increasingly recognized by
disaster-prone country authorities and by many donors that a larger proportion
of international assistance should be focused on addressing the root causes of
disaster, through suitably adapted prevention and preparedness programmes
which maximize the mobilization of national and especially local community
resources, drawing upon the skills and expertise of all relevant regional and
international agencies.

89.     Over the past year, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, in close
coordination with other United Nations bodies, has provided assistance to help
countries to properly assess their full spectrum of risks, to prescribe, on
the basis of global experience, the most cost-effective disaster reduction
measures, to coordinate external guidance where needed on how to apply those
measures in the most vulnerable areas, and to stimulate wider involvement and
closer cooperation among the numerous international agencies with relevant
technical and managerial expertise.  A wide range of integrated and systematic
disaster reduction programmes are being carried out in some of the
disaster-prone developing countries.

            2.  Natural disaster and environmental emergency response

90.  In 1995, the Department provided assistance to 55 Member States to
support their efforts to cope with the impact of 82 sudden-onset natural
disasters and environmental emergencies.  The Department's emergency response
system assisted in on-site assessment, coordination at the local, national and
international levels, and resource mobilization.  In 28 cases,
disaster-affected countries requested the Department to launch appeals for
international assistance on their behalf, and the international community made
$103 million worth of contributions in cash, kind and services.  In response
to these appeals $7 million were channelled through the Department to address
the most pressing needs of disaster victims.

91.     In addition to facilitating mobilization and coordination of
international relief to assist affected countries to cope with the aftermath
of disasters, the Department continued its activities in substantive areas of
capacity-building for improved international, regional and national disaster

92.     Cooperation in the procurement, storage and delivery of relief items
on a cost-sharing basis and, in particular, the joint operation of emergency
stockpiles was fostered further.  The implementation of memoranda of
understanding on the cooperative use of the Pisa warehouse with WHO and WFP
commenced in 1995 and increased the speed and capacity of the Pisa warehouse
response to emergencies.  During the last three years, in cooperation with 15
partners, over 2,700 tons of relief goods, valued at approximately
$11.5 million, were delivered to some 57 destinations.

93.  The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team, through the
participation of 18 Member States, continued to contribute to greater
transparency and effectiveness in the Department's assessment and coordination
activities in the context of sudden-onset disasters.  To further develop its
capacity to respond to coordination requirements, the Department in 1995
organized two training courses and a refresher training course in disaster
assessment and coordination. 

94.     The training was based on the material and the wider emergency
management framework established by the joint Department of Humanitarian
Affairs/UNDP disaster management training programme.  That programme is
engaged in developing and implementing training and other staff development
activities for the capacitation of Department of Humanitarian Affairs staff
and representatives in the area of field coordination of emergency response. 
As the training addressed the full range of emergency situations included in
the Department's mandate, it represents a practical contribution of the
Department to the newly established inter-agency complex emergency training

95.     The joint UNEP/Department of Humanitarian Affairs Environment Unit
assisted many countries in responding to a variety of environmental
emergencies by acting as a broker between affected and donating countries, and
as a clearing-house and switchboard for disaster notification and alert. 
Similarly, the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group continued to
promote and strengthen a network of contacts between providers of resources
and the Department. 

96.     The Department regularly convenes the Working Group on Emergency
Telecommunications. 11/  The definition of a coordination mechanism for the
field telecommunication networks used by United Nations agencies and other
partners during emergencies will be implemented in the summer of 1996.  At the
same time, a consolidated approach towards a reduction of communications fees
will be adopted, which is expected to result in considerable savings.  The
preparation of a draft international convention for the facilitation of
emergency telecommunications for humanitarian aid will be reviewed, starting
in May 1996. 

97.     A model agreement between the United Nations and the Government of a
Member State, concerning measures to expedite the import, export and transit
of relief consignments and possessions of relief personnel in the event of
disasters, was prepared in cooperation with the secretariat of the World
Customs Organization (WCO) and in consultation with interested United Nations
agencies, relief organizations and national customs authorities.  The final
text of the Model Agreement was submitted for approval to WCO in March 1996. 

             3.  Sasakawa/Department of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster
                                  Prevention Award                            

98.     In 1986, as part of a series of measures designed to give more
publicity to the disaster prevention activities which have always been part of
the mandate of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and its predecessor, the
Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator, an annual disaster
prevention award was created with financial support from the Sasakawa
Foundation.  This was one of several similar prizes established to promote
some of the essential but less widely known activities of different
international organizations.  The Award has been given annually from 1987 to
1994, and has considerably stimulated the applicants (typically between 15 and
20 each year) to take stock of the extent to which they have oriented their
skills and activities to meet practical needs in the more disaster-prone
developing countries.

99.     Because of increasing administrative costs and decreasing revenue as a
result of global interest rate reductions, it has become necessary to seek
additional capital as a basis for the annual Award.  In response to the
Department's request, the Sasakawa Foundation has indicated its readiness to
double its original contribution, thereby providing a new total of $2 million.

100.    The original agreement and statutes have been revised and expanded to
include, in particular, clarification of the purpose of the Award and the
criteria for application and for selection of each year's recipient, and rules
concerning membership of the jury and the procedure by which it selects the
winning applicant.  The new agreement has been developed after consultation
between the Sasakawa Foundation and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs,
and has been reviewed by the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat and
modified in line with advice received.

101.    The General Assembly is invited to take note of these arrangements and
endorse the continuation of the Award.

                 D.  Mine clearance and related activities

102.    In response to the international landmine crisis, the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs has continued to exercise its role as the focal point for
United Nations mine activities by providing funding, coordination, programme
oversight and development of new initiatives, to answer the urgent
mine-related humanitarian needs that have emerged worldwide.  A comprehensive
report on United Nations assistance in mine clearance will be submitted to the
General Assembly at its fifty-first session.

103.    The United Nations addresses the existing landmine tragedy by actively
supporting seven mine-clearance programmes.  Over the last year, the United
Nations Secretariat has been responsible for programmes in Afghanistan,
Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia, Mozambique and
Rwanda, with continuing input into the programmes in Cambodia and the Lao
People's Democratic Republic.  In 1995, a one-year programme was completed in
Yemen.  The United Nations approach to mine-clearance programmes has been, in
addition to immediate operational needs, to focus on the creation of
indigenous capacities.  

104.    In fulfilment of its role as a primary advocate for mine victims
worldwide, the Department has actively participated in international
conferences and continued to work cooperatively with the International
Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations to further the
visibility of the landmine issue within the international community.  As part
of a mine-awareness campaign to further promote the ban on landmines with the
general public as well as Governments, the Department has presented a
multi-media exhibition on the landmine situation at United Nations offices at
Geneva, Vienna and New York.  In addition, in late 1995, the Department
published the first issue of a quarterly newsletter entitled Landmines to
provide information on mine-related activities. The Department, with the
support of the Department of Peace-keeping Operations, continues to develop
the United Nations Central Landmine Database, which is available on the
Internet, so as to ensure the widest dissemination of information collected on
mine fields and mine incidents.

                               V.  CONCLUSIONS

105.    Humanitarian action is at a crossroads.  The escalation of conflicts
and displacement has caused a quantum leap in the need for response by the
international community.  The qualitative changes, in particular the
implications of working in volatile and insecure environments, have been a
major factor defining how humanitarian organizations conceive of their role
and operate on the ground.  With these changes has come the realization that
complex crises are not aberrations in a linear process of development but have
deep roots in or are amplified by the ways in which societies are structured,
issues of legitimacy and governance are addressed, and individuals and groups
are affected by poverty and disparity.  Moreover, the contexts in which
humanitarian assistance is provided are often political, and all too
frequently constitute the only effective response of the international
community when the political will or the resources are lacking to tackle the
root causes of crises.

106.    The humanitarian enterprise is costly.  The humanitarian imperative
cannot be denied:  the survival needs of individuals and groups affected by
emergency and disaster must be addressed.  In a world situation characterized
by increasing needs and shrinking resources for international assistance, the
aid community is faced with difficult choices between silent and high-profile
emergencies and between immediate relief and long-term reconstruction and
development.  Furthermore, while there is general agreement that an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure, the hard reality of the international
system is that minimal resources are available to address the conditions
leading to a disaster and long-term solutions.

107.    The direction of the enterprise is still in flux.  Because of the
changing context, new actors, such as the military, have appeared on the
humanitarian scene and new types of tasks, such as mine clearance,
demobilization and reintegration of soldiers, have to be undertaken.  The
compartmentalization which typified approaches in the past is giving way to
new synergies:  key concepts such as "relief", "rehabilitation",
"reconstruction" and "development" need continuously to be redefined.  In many
complex emergencies such distinctions are unhelpful:  they tend to overlap and
blur the fact that, in protracted crises or low-intensity conflicts, very
often it is possible to address both the relief and rehabilitation and, in
some instances, development needs at the same time.  Indeed, it is now
recognized that this is the best way forward:  a key to success is to plant
development seeds while addressing humanitarian needs.

108.    Reform is on the agenda.  The process initiated by the Economic and
Social Council in 1995 aims to assess and improve the capacity of the United
Nations system to respond to crises.  Recent studies undertaken by Member
States, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions have called
for the review of the current institutional arrangements for the delivery and
the coordination of humanitarian assistance.  The concerned United Nations
organizations, as well as their governmental and non-governmental
counterparts, are engaged in a dialogue aimed at identifying strains and
imbalances in the system, and the corresponding corrections.  The approach is
essentially incremental and builds on existing capacities.

109.    The response capacity of the system is improving.  In the four years
since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 46/182, considerable
experience has been gained in addressing the complex crises of a less
predictable world.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the Central
Emergency Revolving Fund have been significant innovations.  Memoranda of
understanding and other technical instruments have clarified mandates and
improved the interface between a growing number of actors.  Several areas of
weakness however remain and should be addressed.

110.    The first is the area of prevention, preparedness and contingency
planning, which is crucial for a timely and effective response to both natural
and man-made disasters.  Efforts are under way to strengthen United Nations
agency guidelines for needs and capacity assessment, as well as for
contingency planning.  The fact is, however, that resources are more readily
available for emergency cure than for prevention.  With every major crisis
comes the sad recognition that there is no common understanding of what
constitutes an acceptable level of contingency planning and of the funds
required to attain such a level.

111.    The second relates to the ambiguities of the very concept of
coordination. There is widespread agreement that coordination is a must, but
perceptions may often vary of what it implies in practice, and how it can best
be translated into specific coordination mechanisms at the field level.  Hence
the need to refine the understanding of the system and the international
community as a whole of the advantages and disadvantages of specific
coordination arrangements.

112.    The third pertains to the availability of the necessary resources for
the Department of Humanitarian Affairs to carry out its mandated activities. 
The United Nations is appreciative of the continued support by the donor
community directed towards meeting the humanitarian needs in both natural
disasters and complex crises.  A dialogue has been initiated with Member
States, in particular donors, and various more durable approaches have been
explored.  There is clearly a need to address the vulnerability of the
Department resulting from the imbalance between its regular and extrabudgetary

113.    The fourth area is accountability which is less than optimal.  The
proliferation of actors providing assistance in complex emergencies, and the
fact that, given the magnitude and diversity of crises, even the most
established organizations are greatly over-stretched, have made the task of
monitoring, performance assessment and evaluation particularly difficult, but
all the more essential.  The need for codes of conduct, performance indicators
and appropriate mechanisms to assess impact is widely recognized.  Initial
steps have been taken both within and outside the United Nations system to
introduce such mechanisms.  Long-term support from Member States, particularly
the donor community, is contingent on the humanitarian system's capacity to
demonstrate that the funds entrusted to it are spent in a diligent and
cost-effective manner.  This is however a long-term task requiring dedicated
resources for "lessons learned" studies and evaluations.  More also needs to
be done to equip humanitarian organizations with the means to assess the
impact of their activities on the coping mechanisms of the affected
communities and to ensure that such activities are sustainable and do not
erode self-reliance capabilities.

114.    Ultimately, the international community's capacity to respond to
humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters will depend on how well each
part of the system works and how each part, within and outside the United
Nations system, works with the other elements.  As stated in section III
above, the sum must be more than its parts, or the system will never attain
the capacity to respond as effectively, efficiently or rapidly as is optimal. 
This was the rationale behind the process initiated by the Economic and Social
Council at its 1995 session.  This process is now well under way:  the
governing bodies of the concerned United Nations organizations and their
secretariats, both individually and collectively, have been reviewing the
issues raised in the Council resolution.  The Council's call for a
comprehensive and analytical report, including options, proposals and
recommendations for a review and strengthening of all aspects of the capacity
of the United Nations system for humanitarian assistance provides a timely
opportunity to address some of the most critical issues affecting humanitarian

115.    The humanitarian community is composed of thousands of often young
relief workers who have chosen to serve in the remotest and most perilous
parts of the world.  Whether they work for established United Nations
organizations, Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies or international and
national non-governmental organizations, with few exceptions, they carry out
their duties with competence, dedication to humanitarian values, and a sense
of mission.  These women and men give their best for the victims of conflict
and disaster.  They are the greatest asset of the humanitarian community. 
Their courage in the face of hardship and danger must be acknowledged here. 
The memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty, a growing and
unacceptable roll-call each year, must not be forgotten. 


        1/      United Nations Development Programme, Human Development
Report, 1995 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 16.

        2/      See United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, The
Least Developed Countries, 1996 Report (United Nations publication, Sales
No. E.96.II.D.3), Overview.

        3/      Ibid.

        4/      World Bank, World Debt Tables 1994-1995.

        5/      Ky Amoako and James Gustave Speth, "In Africa, unattended
poverty leads to conflict", International Herald Tribune, 21 March 1996.

        6/      See United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, The
Least Developed Countries, 1996 Report (United Nations publication, Sales
No. E.96.II.D.3), Overview.

        7/      Projections indicate that nearly 50 per cent of the world's
population will live in urban environments by the year 2000.  United Nations
Development Programme, Human Development Report, 1995 (New York, Oxford
University Press, 1995), p. 185.

        8/      Seven least developed countries, the least able to bear the
burden, currently host over 250,000 refugees.  See Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The State of the World's Refugees:  In
Search of Solutions (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 251.

        9/      "The world economy at the beginning of 1996:  Note by the
Secretary-General" (E/1996/INF/1), para. 25.

        10/     See World Food Programme, Tackling Hunger in a World Full of
Food: Tasks Ahead for Food Aid (Rome, 1996).

        11/     The Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications was formed
in order to implement resolution 7 of the World Telecommunication Development
Conference (Buenos Aires, 1994) and resolution 36 of the Plenipotentiary
Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (Kyoto, 1994).


                       Central Emergency Revolving Fund

               A.  Consolidated advances and reimbursements

                              (As at 31 March 1996)

                             (United States dollars)
Operational                         Amount         Amount        Amount
organization    Project            advanced      reimbursed    outstanding
UNICEF          Kenya             2 000 000      2 000 000              0
UNICEF          Somalia           5 000 000      5 000 000              0
UNCHS           Somalia             500 000        500 000              0
FAO             Somalia           1 600 000      1 600 000              0
WHO             Somalia           2 000 000      2 000 000              0
UNICEF          Iraq              5 000 000      5 000 000              0
UNHCR           Afghanistan       5 000 000      5 000 000              0
UNICEF          Mozambique        2 000 000      2 000 000              0
WFP             Tajikistan        4 500 000      2 036 121      2 463 879
WHO             Yugoslavia        2 500 000      2 500 000              0
UNHCR           Georgia           2 000 000      2 000 000              0
UNICEF          Iraq              5 000 000      5 000 000              0
UNHCR           Tajikistan        5 000 000      5 000 000              0
WFP             Iraq              4 000 000      4 000 000              0
UNICEF          Haiti             1 000 000      1 000 000              0
WFP             Lebanon             560 000        560 000              0
UNCHS           Lebanon           5 000 000      1 693 276      3 306 724
UNICEF          Iraq              7 000 000      7 000 000              0
UNHCR           Burundi           5 000 000      5 000 000              0
WFP             Burundi           5 000 000      5 000 000              0
UNICEF          Angola            1 500 000      1 500 000              0
IOM             Zaire             1 000 000        649 846        350 154
UNICEF          Sudan             1 000 000      1 000 000              0
FAO             Sudan               200 000        200 000              0
UNICEF          Yugoslavia        1 000 000      1 000 000              0
UNDP            Kenya               500 000        500 000              0
WHO             Yugoslavia        2 500 000      2 500 000              0
UNICEF          Somalia           4 870 000      4 870 000              0
UNREO           Rwanda              200 000        200 000              0
UNHCR           Tajikistan        3 000 000      3 000 000              0
UNHCR           Rwanda           10 000 000     10 000 000              0
UNICEF          Rwanda            3 000 000      3 000 000              0
WFP             Rwanda            5 000 000      5 000 000              0
HCHR/HR         Rwanda            3 000 000                     3 000 000
UNICEF          Sudan             3 000 000      3 000 000              0
UNICEF          Northern Iraq       930 000        930 000              0
UCAH            Angola              480 600        480 600              0
WFP             Rwanda            5 000 000      5 000 000              0
DHA/UNREO       Rwanda              100 000        100 000              0
DHA/UNREO       Rwanda              100 000        100 000              0
DHA/SRSG        Burundi             110 000        110 000              0
DHA/IRIN        Great Lakes         200 000        100 000        100 000
UNAMIR          Rwanda            2 000 000      2 000 000              0
DHA             West Africa       1 763 660        157 122      1 606 538
   Total                        120 114 260    109 286 965     10 827 295

organization    Project             Date of advance     Date of reimbursement
UNICEF          Kenya               24 Aug. 1992        31 Dec. 1992 and
                                                        22 Oct. 1993
UNICEF          Somalia             24 Aug. 1992        22 Dec. 1992
UNCHS           Somalia             10 Sept. 1992       29 Jan. 1993
FAO             Somalia             30 Sept. 1992       24 June 1993
WHO             Somalia             26 Oct. 1992        29 March 1993
UNICEF          Iraq                11 Nov. 1992        15 April 1993
UNHCR           Afghanistan         24 Nov. 1992         6 Jan. 1993
UNICEF          Mozambique          22 Jan. 1993         2 Feb. 1994 and
                                                         1 Aug. 1994
WFP             Tajikistan          25 March 1993        3 May 1994 and
                                                        10 June 1994
WHO             Yugoslavia          26 March 1993        5 May 1994
UNHCR           Georgia             22 April 1993       16 Sept. 1993
UNICEF          Iraq                14 June 1993        21 Oct. 1993
UNHCR           Tajikistan          18 June 1993        29 Dec. 1993 and
                                                        18 May 1994
WFP             Iraq                21 June 1993         3 May 1994 and
                                                         9 Aug. 1994
UNICEF          Haiti               23 July 1993        25 April 1994 and
                                                         1 Aug. 1994
WFP             Lebanon              3 Sept. 1993        3 Jan. 1994 (FAO)
UNCHS           Lebanon              9 Sept. 1993       21 March 1994 and
                                                        17 June 1994
UNICEF          Iraq                27 Oct. 1993         1 Feb. 1994
UNHCR           Burundi             19 Nov. 1993         1 June 1994
WFP             Burundi             22 Dec. 1993         3 May 1994
UNICEF          Angola               6 Jan. 1994        19 May 1994
IOM             Zaire                6 Jan. 1994         8 July 1994
UNICEF          Sudan               17 Feb. 1994        20 June 1994
FAO             Sudan               23 Feb. 1994        16 May 1994
UNICEF          Yugoslavia          16 March 1994       31 Aug. 1994
UNDP            Kenya               18 March 1994       13 April 1995
WHO             Yugoslavia          29 March 1994       31 Oct. 1994
UNICEF          Somalia             28 April 1994       22 July 1994 and
                                                        24 Oct. 1994
UNREO           Rwanda              28 April 1994        8 Sept. 1994
UNHCR           Tajikistan          20 May 1994         21 Dec. 1994
UNHCR           Rwanda               1 June 1994        29 Sept. 1994 and
                                                        21 Nov. 1994
UNICEF          Rwanda              21 July 1994        30 Dec. 1994
WFP             Rwanda              22 July 1994        17 Nov. 1994
HCHR/HR         Rwanda               7 Oct. 1994
UNICEF          Sudan               28 Dec. 1994        24 May 1995 and
                                                        22 Nov. 1995
UNICEF          Northern Iraq        4 Jan. 1995        26 April 1995
UCAH            Angola              26 Jan. 1995        28 June 1995 and
                                                        15 Sept. 1995
WFP             Rwanda               7 March 1995       14 July 1995
DHA/UNREO       Rwanda              13 July 1995        14 March 1996
DHA/UNREO       Rwanda               1 Aug. 1995        14 March 1996
DHA/SRSG        Burundi              1 Sept. 1995       11 Jan. 1996
DHA/IRIN        Great Lakes          2 Oct. 1995        29 Jan. 1996
UNAMIR          Rwanda               2 Oct. 1995        15 March 1996
DHA             West Africa          8 Dec. 1995        16 Jan. 1996

                        B.  Status of utilization of the Fund

        Contributions received:                      49 227 104

        Less:  Advances                            (120 114 260)

        Add:  Reimbursements                        109 286 965

        Add:  Interest earned (as at 31 March 1996)   4 567 328
        Fund balance as at 31 March 1996             42 967 137


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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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