United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

12 June 1998


                                                   Original: English
General Assembly
Fifty-third Session
Item 20 (a) of the preliminary list*

Strengthening of the coordination of
humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of
the United Nations, including special
economic assistance: strengthening of the
coordination of emergency humanitarian
assistance of the United Nations

     * A/53/50.

Economic and Social Council
Substantive session of 1998
Item 5 of the provisional agenda**

Special economic, humanitarian and disaster
relief assistance

     ** E/1998/100.

      Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian
                 assistance of the United Nations

                 Report of the Secretary-General


                                                       Paragraphs  Page

  I.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1-2        3

 II.  Context and challenges of humanitarian assistance   3-13       3

III.  Reform of the United Nations humanitarian sector   14-21       4

 IV.  Progress in strengthening of the coordination of 
      humanitarian affairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   22-49       6

      A.  Field coordination arrangements. . . . . . .   24-26       6

      B.  Internally displaced persons . . . . . . . .   27-32       7

      C.  Resource mobilization and the consolidated 
          appeals process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   33-39       8

      D.  Monitoring, evaluation and accountability. .   40-41       9

      E.  Sanctions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   42-48       9

      F.  Staff security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     49       10

  V.  Response to natural disasters and environmental 
      emergencies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   50-61      10

 VI.  Relief and development . . . . . . . . . . . . .   62-78      13

VII.  Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   79-85      16


      United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Humanitarian 
      Assistance Appeals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18

        I.     Introduction

1.   The present report has been prepared pursuant to
General Assembly resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991,
by which the Secretary-General was required to report
annually to the Assembly and the Economic and Social
Council on the coordination of humanitarian assistance, to
Economic and Social Council resolution 1995/56 of 28 July
1995, in which the Council requested the Secretary-General
to submit a comprehensive report on humanitarian
assistance, and to Assembly resolution 52/168 of 16
December 1997, in which the Secretary-General was
requested to report to the Assembly through the Council on
the further progress of the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee in the strengthening of the capacity of the United
Nations in humanitarian assistance.

2.   The present report also describes the implementation
of the programme of reform of the United Nations endorsed
by the General Assembly in its resolution 52/12 of 12
November 1997. The reform measures discussed in the
report aim primarily at strengthening the office of the
Emergency Relief Coordinator through enhanced focus on
three core functions: policy development and coordination;
advocacy of humanitarian issues; and coordination of
humanitarian emergency response.

       II.     Context and challenges of
               humanitarian assistance

3.   In the past year, there has been more evidence of the
disturbing trends identified in the previous report of the
Secretary-General concerning humanitarian assistance
(E/1997/98). There has been further erosion in the respect
for humanitarian principles, both in terms of denial of
access to people in need and through deliberate violence
against civilians and aid workers. In addition, the level of
contributions from donors to humanitarian assistance
programmes has noticeably declined, with some notable
exceptions. These developments are extremely worrying,
and concerted steps must be taken to address them.

4.   The right of civilians in need, particularly children and
women, to receive humanitarian assistance is enshrined in
international humanitarian law. Deliberate refusal by
Governments or armed groups to allow humanitarian
organizations access to assist needy people is contrary to
international humanitarian principles. It is the view of the
Secretary-General that the persistent and deliberate denial
of the rights of victims, of whom the majority are children
and women, to receive humanitarian assistance should be
included in the Charter of the proposed International
Criminal Court as an indictable offence.

5.   It was welcome news that in May, in Afghanistan and
the Sudan, the authorities agreed to grant access to
humanitarian assistance to needy people in areas that had
previously been denied such assistance. This is encouraging,
but must become the norm. The international community
must send a consistent and unambiguous message to
Governments and armed groups that the right to
humanitarian aid is inviolable, and that failure to honour
that right will lead to appropriate and targeted measures
against those responsible, including criminal prosecution.

6.    Deliberate attacks on civilian populations have
continued. Increasingly, such attacks have become the
objective of armed conflict, rather than an unfortunate 
by-product. Warring parties seek to terrorize populations into
leaving specific areas. Hatred and suspicion between
members of different ethnic or religious groups are incited
by media controlled by faction leaders. In some places
violence has been perpetrated against aid workers, whose
help to the innocent victims of conflict is seen as threatening
the political objectives of armed groups. As such attacks
constitute flagrant violations of international humanitarian
law, those responsible for these attacks must be held
accountable for their acts. 

7.   It is a matter of great concern that the international
response to appeals for humanitarian assistance to victims
of conflict and natural disasters has declined in both
absolute and relative terms. On the positive side, the period
from 1994 to 1998 has seen a steady decline in the numbers
of people worldwide who are dependent on emergency
humanitarian assistance. The consolidated appeals of 1994
identified a target population of 39.5 million people in need
of help. Of the total funding requirements that year
amounting to US$ 2,780 million, fully 80 per cent was made
available by donors. By 1997, the numbers requiring
assistance had fallen to some 24 million and funding
requirements to $1,747 million. However, the response of
donors reached only 62 per cent. In the 1998 appeals the
numbers requiring help had increased slightly to 25 million,
reflecting the large-scale relief effort in the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, and the funds required were
$1,980 million. Alarmingly, however, by 15 May 1998 the
average response to the consolidated appeals issued by the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for
1998 was only approximately 15 per cent. At the same
period in 1997 the comparable figure was 30 per cent.

8.   There appear to be a number of reasons for this
alarming trend. Principally, none of the emergencies now
being confronted has been of a size or political significance
to attract front-page media coverage. Governments must
accept the responsibility for ensuring that their response to
international appeals is commensurate with the needs, and
not overly influenced by levels of media interest. The lack
of resources for emergency programmes is having a direct
impact on beneficiaries, jeopardizing, for example, return
and reintegration programmes in some countries, with
consequent negative impacts on stability, peace-building
and reconciliation.

9.   This trend comes at a time when the whole concept of
"humanitarianism" is under scrutiny. There have been
suggestions that, in some situations, humanitarian aid may
do harm as well as good. This is a healthy debate, which
should be encouraged. If it leads to the adoption of agreed
principles and ground rules, accepted by all parties
concerned, for the delivery of humanitarian assistance,
which reduce or eliminate the risk of "collateral damage"
during humanitarian operations, then it will have served an
important purpose. However, this debate must not be
allowed to provide excuses for inaction in the face of
humanitarian need, or for lack of political will to deal with
the crisis behind the emergency. On the contrary, it should
help the international community to focus on the
development of a fully coordinated approach to countries
in crisis, in which key aspects of a recovery and peace-building 
programme are included. 

10.  During the past year, in spite of the serious funding
constraints facing humanitarian organizations, as well as the
worsening security environment in several areas, tangible
results have been recorded in the humanitarian field. These
have been the result of well-coordinated responses by the
United Nations system with other international and non-governmental
organizations and close collaboration with
donor Governments, local authorities and civil society
organizations. Notable examples include humanitarian
operations in Angola, Georgia, Iraq and the Kosovo
province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Other
achievements include the coordinated response to floods
and natural disasters resulting from the El Nin~o
phenomenon, and the publication of the guiding principles
on internally displaced persons. It is also encouraging to
note the growing recognition of the need to control the
proliferation of small arms in conflict zones, with the
prospect of a moratorium on the import of small arms to the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

11.  Since the previous report of the Secretary-General
(E/1997/98), notable progress has been made in addressing
the landmines issue. The success of the Ottawa process and
progress to date in the realization of a universal ban on 
anti-personnel landmines are major humanitarian achievements.
Equally, greater awareness of the need to take a
comprehensive approach to the issue of landmines,
including action that addresses the particular concerns of
landmine survivors, is a positive and welcome trend.

12.  There is growing recognition of the essential linkages
between all aspects of external support for countries
afflicted by conflict, whether political, humanitarian,
developmental or human rights. The challenge is to establish
joint planning and coordinating mechanisms in the field and
at Headquarters that reflect this understanding. The
participation of donor Governments, host Governments and
non-governmental organizations in this effort is essential
to its success. The Administrative Committee on
Coordination (ACC) has given particular attention to the
"strategic framework" approach, which is discussed in more
detail in paragraph 67 below.

13.  Finally, the El Nin~o phenomenon, the forest fires in
Indonesia and Brazil, and the Chernobyl and Semipalatinsk
nuclear disasters have reminded the international
community of the vulnerability of many parts of the world
to natural, environmental and technological disasters. The
resources of a single country are often not sufficient to cope
with the humanitarian consequences of natural catastrophes.

            III. Reform of the United Nations
                 humanitarian sector

14.  In the report of the Secretary-General entitled
"Renewing the United Nations: a reform programme"
(A/51/950) significant changes were proposed in the
structure and functions of the Department of Humanitarian
Affairs. These changes were subsequently endorsed by the
General Assembly and have been introduced, with some
minor adjustments of detail, in the period since.

15.  In that report, the Secretary-General reaffirmed the
importance of the function of the Emergency Relief
Coordinator as an integral part of the United Nations
Secretariat and as the focal point for the coordination of
humanitarian affairs within the Secretariat. The 
Secretary-General outlined a number of measures to strengthen the
coordination function of the Emergency Relief Coordinator
and to arrest a perceived dilution of his mandate. As a
result, the operational functions that the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs had acquired since its establishment
were transferred to other entities within the United Nations
system, a process that will be completed shortly.
Specifically, the responsibility for the coordination of mine
action operations was transferred to the Department of
Peacekeeping Operations (while the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs retained the
responsibility for humanitarian advocacy on mine action
issues and for ensuring that mine action initiatives were
fully integrated into humanitarian programmes). The United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was assigned the
responsibility for ensuring that the broader socio-economic
consequences of landmine and unexploded ordnance
contamination are reflected in development planning. The
Iraq Programme was established as a separate office in the
Secretariat; the Pisa warehouse is to be transferred to the
World Food Programme (WFP); and responsibilities
relating to the establishment of a resource centre to serve
as a central depository of knowledge and experiences in
demobilization and for operational activities for natural
disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness were taken
on by UNDP. The Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs retained the responsibility for the
coordinating offices in Afghanistan (Office of the United
Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan) and
Angola (Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit).

16.  Reflecting these changes the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs became the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with a focus on three
core functions: policy development and coordination;
advocacy of humanitarian issues; and coordination of
humanitarian emergency response. The implementation of
these measures has allowed a reduction in staffing by almost
50 per cent. However, in the current biennium, over 60 per
cent of the Office's costs are still funded from
extrabudgetary resources. Efforts will continue to be made
to obtain an increase in the proportion of the Office's costs
to be met from the regular budget.

17.  In January 1998, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello (Brazil)
was appointed to head the new Office, as Under-Secretary-General 
for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator. In this capacity, he chairs both the 
Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the Executive Committee
for Humanitarian Affairs. In the months since his
appointment, the Emergency Relief Coordinator has sought
to engage the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in
proactive and collaborative efforts to deal with a limited
number of key humanitarian issues. These include the
question of internally displaced persons, the development
of the consolidated appeals process as a dynamic and
collaborative strategic programming exercise, the security
of humanitarian workers, field coordination mechanisms,
strengthening the links between human rights and
humanitarian action, the introduction of a coordinated
response to the humanitarian consequences of
environmental and technological disasters, the use of 
inter-agency teams for contingency planning and to negotiate the
acceptance of humanitarian principles in countries in
conflict, advocacy of humanitarian issues, such as the
terrible humanitarian consequences of the proliferation of
small arms, and the promotion of a deeper understanding
of the humanitarian impact of sanctions regimes. The
progress achieved on these issues is described in the
following chapters.

18.  Attempts have also been made to make the Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs more supportive
of field activities, in particular through the expanded use of
Office-led inter-agency teams to negotiate acceptance of
humanitarian principles in specific situations where these
are threatened, and for contingency planning. These efforts
are carried out usually at the specific request of, and in close
coordination with, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee
and the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs.

19.  At the same time, the Under-Secretary-General has put
in place the structures and working practices of the new
Office. A Complex Emergency Response and Consolidated
Appeals Branch and a Disaster Relief Branch for natural
disasters have been put in place at Geneva. The Policy,
Advocacy and Information Division and the Emergency
Liaison Branch have been established in New York. The
secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction remains at Geneva. To consolidate the links with
the members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, and
to obtain expertise that could not otherwise have been
found, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs has recruited on secondment from Standing
Committee participants a number of staff to fill some senior
positions in the new Office. This process will be completed
by July 1998.

20.  The reform that led to the establishment of the Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is an organic
and dynamic process. The Office will remain responsive to
the expectations of member States and members of the Inter-Agency 
Standing Committee, and will adjust its priorities
and working methods to reflect the needs of the victims of
complex emergencies and natural disasters. United Nations
agencies are committed to supporting the Office in this
endeavour, including by nominating senior members of their
staff to serve as Humanitarian Coordinators when required.
The guiding objectives for the Office in implementing the
reforms are to improve support to, and collaboration with,
the operational agencies, to enhance emergency
preparedness, to strengthen United Nations advocacy of
humanitarian issues, and to promote joint planning at all
stages of complex emergencies between humanitarian
agencies, peace-building bodies, human rights organizations
and development actors.

21.  As part of the reform process, the Economic and
Social Council has decided to convene a humanitarian
segment beginning at its substantive session of 1998. The
Secretary-General welcomes this decision and hopes that
the Council will, at an appropriate time, address the 
longer-term issue of oversight of the coordination of the United
Nations humanitarian response, as proposed in his report
on reform.

         IV.  Progress in strengthening of the
              coordination of humanitarian affairs

22.  In its resolution 1995/56, the Economic and Social
Council requested a review of the capacity of the United
Nations system in providing humanitarian assistance. In
conducting that review, the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee has moved towards a more strategic approach
that emphasizes the importance of ensuring that
humanitarian assistance contributes to the peacemaking and
peace-building activities of the United Nations. In this
context, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee has aimed
at achieving simple and coherent coordination structures at
the field level and clear division of responsibilities and,
therefore, accountability, particularly in areas where
responsibilities have not been clearly defined in the past,
such as internally displaced persons. It has also sought to
develop a more dynamic and prioritized approach to
resource mobilization, producing consolidated appeals
processes that identify clear strategies and objectives for
humanitarian programmes, while addressing, as appropriate,
rehabilitation and recovery needs. It has also addressed
issues of monitoring and evaluation, relief and development
linkages, and staff development and security.

23.  In recent months, the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee has taken further steps to implement Economic
and Social Council resolution 1995/56, taking into account
relevant elements of the reform programme of the 
Secretary-General and the subsequent establishment of the 
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

        A.     Field coordination arrangements

24.  In accordance with General Assembly resolution
46/182 and the report of the Secretary-General on reform,
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, under the
chairmanship of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, has a
number of options available in deciding on the appropriate
field coordination mechanism for each complex emergency.
The understanding is that the Resident Coordinator should
normally coordinate the humanitarian assistance activities
of the United Nations system at the country level by
assuming the dual function of Resident Coordinator and
Humanitarian Coordinator, usually with staff support from
the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Alternatively, the Committee may designate a lead agency,
particularly when the nature of the emergency is dominated
by one overriding cause or response requirement. Under this
option, the agency's country director assumes the
responsibilities of the Humanitarian Coordinator and the
agency itself provides additional support in-country for
these responsibilities to be carried out. In some cases, the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs may
also provide staffing support to the lead agency. Finally, the
Committee may recommend the appointment of a
Humanitarian Coordinator distinct from the office of the
Resident Coordinator and lead agency. In this case,
administrative support should be provided, in general, by
one of the operational agencies in the field. In addition, the
Committee may recommend the appointment of a Regional
Humanitarian Coordinator in emergency situations with a
pronounced regional dimension. The above arrangements
will be implemented with due regard to the need for greater
coherence of United Nations activities in the field, where
it is essential that the United Nations should act as one.

25.  The need for effective coordination at the field level
is paramount. Although there have been substantial
improvements in recent years, there are still situations
where competitiveness between agencies reduces efficiency.
Further steps are foreseen by the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee, including improved training of country teams
and sufficient delegation of authority to the field to ensure
greater cohesiveness and integration of initiatives.

26.  In view of the importance of the Resident Coordinator
system, it has been agreed both in the Inter-Agency
Standing Committee and in the United Nations
Development Group to improve the training and selection
of Resident Coordinators who may be required to carry out
humanitarian functions. It has also been agreed to clarify
the parameters of authority for the Resident Coordinator/
Humanitarian Coordinator function; to establish criteria for
the selection of Humanitarian Coordinators; to establish a
roster of candidates for Humanitarian Coordinators; to
develop and establish a performance review mechanism; to
agree on guidelines for a joint Emergency Relief
Coordinator/UNDP Administrator performance appraisal
of Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators;
and to recommend the scope and content of training for
Humanitarian Coordinators.

        B.     Internally displaced persons

27.  The need of over 20 million internally displaced
persons around the world for both protection and assistance
constitutes a major challenge to the international
community. In many situations, these needs have not been
effectively met and serious gaps in provision have been
evident. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has
recognized the issue to be of central concern and is
committed to developing a coherent and consistent

28.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has designated
the Emergency Relief Coordinator as the focal point for
inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance to
internally displaced persons, with a focus on global
advocacy for both protection and assistance requirements;
resource mobilization; promoting global information on
internally displaced persons; and support to field
operations, including help with the negotiation of access to
internally displaced persons. To carry out this function the
Emergency Relief Coordinator has developed close links
with both the representative of the Secretary-General on
internally displaced persons and the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights. The representative is
considered the main advocate for the plight of internally
displaced persons and is working to establish global
standards, principles and a legal framework for their
protection. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has asked
that the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights be further explored, to enhance her
involvement in the protection of internally displaced
persons and in advocating respect for their human rights.
Resident Coordinators report regularly to the Emergency
Relief Coordinator and the representative of the Secretary-General 
on country-specific situations related to internally
displaced persons.

29.  At the present time, the working group of the Inter-Agency 
Standing Committee serves as the main forum for
consultations on matters concerning internally displaced
persons. There will be a standing item on internally
displaced persons on the agenda of all working group
meetings. The Emergency Relief Coordinator also envisages
the establishment of a network of focal points on internal
displacement. This network will operate as an informal
inter-agency consultative mechanism and promote a
proactive, timely, coherent and coordinated response to
protection and assistance needs. Since the beginning of
1998, consultations have been held to identify contact
persons in relevant organizations for the establishment of
the network. In this context, the Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs is appointing a resource person to
assist the Emergency Relief Coordinator in carrying out his
functions with regard to internally displaced persons.

30.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee welcomed the
guiding principles on internally displaced persons prepared
under the direction of the representative of the Secretary-General 
and presented to the Commission on Human Rights
at its fifty-fourth session. These principles provide a
normative framework covering situations of internal
displacement. Heads of agencies have agreed to share the
guiding principles with their respective executive boards,
as well as with all their staff, especially those in the field,
and to apply them in their activities on behalf of internally
displaced persons.

31.  In addition, at the request of the Inter-Agency
Standing Committee, the United Nations Children's Fund
(UNICEF), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs and the representative of the Secretary-General on
internally displaced persons are working together on the
development of guidelines for best practices concerning
internally displaced persons. After approval by the
Committee, the guidelines will be published as a practical
field manual and will be made available to practitioners
within and outside the United Nations system.

32.  To improve the collection, analysis and dissemination
of information related to internally displaced persons, the
Inter-Agency Standing Committee agreed that the
Emergency Relief Coordinator should promote the
establishment of a database of global information on the
subject. This task has been outsourced to the global
internally displaced person survey, a project of the
Norwegian Refugee Council. To ensure that the efforts of
the United Nations system and the non-United Nations
community in pursuit of reliable information are
coordinated, non-governmental organizations have been
encouraged to cooperate by making their data and analysis

        C.     Resource mobilization and the
               consolidated appeals process

33.  During the review by the Economic and Social
Council of the capacity of the United Nations system for
humanitarian assistance the need to take a more
comprehensive view of humanitarian programmes in an
emergency was identified. The principal tool given to the
Emergency Relief Coordinator (according to General
Assembly resolution 46/182, annex) and to Humanitarian
Coordinators in the field to support this approach is the
consolidated appeals process. The Inter-Agency Standing
Committee is determined to change the notion that the
consolidated appeals process is merely synonymous with
the actual appeal document and emphasize that it is a
process, which reflects strategy development in the field,
and continues right through to monitoring and review.

34.  Since the autumn of 1997, members of the Inter-Agency 
Standing Committee have mobilized considerable
resources to improve the quality of the consolidated appeals
process. The Committee's sub-working group on resource
mobilization has been reconvened and is now devoted
exclusively to improving the consolidated appeals process.
This includes identifying focal points in each organization
charged with sensitizing colleagues within their respective
organizations (particularly those in the field who are
directly involved in the process) to the new procedures and
thinking, and to provide support to the appeal preparation

35.  It is now recognized that the process of developing an
appeal must involve all stakeholders, including the
authorities of the host country, donor representatives and
non-governmental organizations. Recent efforts to develop
a strategic framework and common programming principles
in relation to the programme in Afghanistan have provided
a useful learning experience from which a participatory
"assistance strategy" has evolved. Clearly, however, if
donors are directly involved in this way in the preparation
of consolidated appeals, there will be an expectation that
they will also respond in a positive and timely way when the
appeal is launched.

36.  While the consolidated appeals process remains the
principal resource mobilization tool for humanitarian
assistance, it usually does not outline the overall vision and
strategy of the international community in addressing the
problems of countries in crisis. Improvements in the process
complement the efforts initiated in the context of ACC to
develop strategic frameworks aimed at ensuring more
integrated peace-building approaches in selected countries.
Strategic frameworks are tools and processes that outline
the principles, policy objectives and institutional
arrangements for a more integrated response embracing both
political and assistance strategies. Ideally, they will allow
all external partners to jointly identify, analyse and
prioritize key issues and problems on the basis of shared
principles and objectives. Common programming
frameworks may also be a mechanism for United Nations
agencies and programmes to ensure the commitment of their
donors and partners, predictability of resource availability,
as well as coherent principled policies.          

37.  In producing the consolidated appeals for 1998,
strategies and objectives were more clearly stated than in
the past. This is an essential first step towards more focused
and integrated humanitarian programmes and is a way to
ensure prioritization within the programmes. The strategies
include explicit linkages between relief efforts and the
Government's own priorities and initiatives. Greater
emphasis has also been placed on linkages with
development-oriented activities in support of peace-building, 
as well as on efforts to move more quickly out of
the emergency phase.

38.  The country team, under the leadership of the
Humanitarian Coordinator, manages the original process of
priority setting and the reassessment of priorities if there are
shortfalls in funding. The importance of prioritization has
been repeatedly and correctly stressed by donor
Governments. Nevertheless, some Governments continue
to earmark their funds for specific activities, thereby taking
upon themselves the responsibility for setting priorities.
Now that the process of prioritization has been substantially
improved, it is important that donors allow these priorities
to be carried through, by providing adequate and, whenever
possible, unearmarked resources. The response of donors
to the introduction of programming for rehabilitation and
recovery into the consolidated appeals process has to date
also been generally disappointing. Efforts will be made by
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to promote the
appeals more aggressively than in the past.

39.  It is to be noted that levels of funding for humanitarian
assistance from official development assistance have
declined in recent years after a sharp increase in the early
1990s. A comprehensive review of the funding of
humanitarian programmes would now be appropriate, which
could also explore the relationship between funding
provided for emergencies and resources made available for
development programming. Specifically, it is important for
the United Nations system to understand the processes by
which donor Governments decide their responses to
consolidated appeals. The Secretary-General is ready to
cooperate closely with Member States in carrying out such
a review.

        D.     Monitoring, evaluation and accountability

40.  Given the emphasis on an integrated approach and on
the process of consolidated appeals, it is important to
monitor and report on changes to programmes that result
from changes in the humanitarian or funding situations.
Appropriate reporting schedules and common indicators of
progress will ensure that programme activities are
monitored to provide the basis for programme analysis and
revision. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has agreed
on the need for a simple field-based system for the strategic
monitoring of the overall direction of humanitarian
assistance in a particular setting. As part of the process of
strengthening the consolidated appeals, the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has begun to develop
a guide to monitoring, which should provide an objective
assessment on how programme targets and strategic
objectives are being met, by matching field reports with
financial information provided by donors and agencies. In
so doing, it will be possible to assist the Humanitarian
Coordinator to monitor the provision of resources against
appeals and bring funding shortfalls to the attention of
donors. As a first step, regular consolidated reports are
being issued on the implications of underfunding,
highlighting forced changes in priorities and cancellation
of activities resulting from the lack of funding. This system,
which will focus on the broad humanitarian picture, is, of
course, distinct from the operational monitoring undertaken
by individual agencies and programmes and is intended to
complement it.

41.  Improved strategic programming and monitoring will
be important elements in ensuring that the overall
accountability of humanitarian action, both to the donors
and to the recipients of assistance, is grounded in sound
analysis and increasingly reliable data. The Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is an active
participant in networks of donors, non-governmental
organizations and United Nations organizations specifically
committed to improving the accountability and the standards
of humanitarian action. Moreover, the Office has continued
to develop its capacity to undertake or manage "lessons
learned" studies. Studies on coordination in Angola and on
United Nations experience in supporting indigenous mine
action programmes were issued. Another significant output
during the reporting period was the completion of a major
study, mandated by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee,
on coordination in the Great Lakes Region. Its wide-ranging
recommendations and follow-up actions are currently under
review in the Committee. They were also considered at an
international seminar on lessons learned in humanitarian
coordination, held at Stockholm in April 1998.

        E.     Sanctions

42.  Economic sanctions and trade embargoes, especially
protracted sanctions regimes, may have a serious negative
impact on vulnerable segments of the civilian population
in targeted countries.

43.  The General Assembly, in annex II to its resolution
51/242 of 15 September 1997, requested that information
on the potential or actual humanitarian impact of sanctions
be brought immediately to the attention of the Security
Council. The Assembly decided that the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs should play a
coordinating role in organizing and conducting assessments
of humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities at the time of the
imposition of sanctions, and regularly thereafter while
sanctions are being implemented. It further decided that
guidelines for the exemption of humanitarian goods be
developed to ensure that applications are expeditiously dealt
with. In particular, the Assembly requested that exemptions
be granted on humanitarian goods, such as food and
medicines, and other essential items. The Emergency Relief
Coordinator has twice been invited to engage in discussions
with the Council on this issue. In addition, regular
discussions outside the Council are ongoing with Member
States in order to promote the development of "smart"
sanctions, which are intended to target a particular regime,
without producing negative effects on the civilian

44.  A statement issued by the Inter-Agency Standing
Committee on the humanitarian effects of sanctions was
forwarded to the Security Council on 23 February 1998. In
that statement, the Committee expressed concern with
respect to the humanitarian impact of sanctions and
emphasized that adverse humanitarian consequences on
civilian populations should be avoided. Recently,
embargoes on Sierra Leone, and the unique regional
embargo on Burundi, in particular, have created difficulties
for United Nations operations in humanitarian crisis
situations. It follows from the above that when a sanctions
regime is imposed, it is essential that humanitarian and
human rights considerations be taken into account.

45.  Field evaluations of the potential and actual
humanitarian impact of sanctions have been undertaken
upon the request of the Security Council, as in the case of
the Sudan and most recently in Sierra Leone, where an 
inter-agency team assessed the humanitarian effect of the
imposition of United Nations sanctions and the ECOWAS

46.  At the twenty-sixth Conference of the International
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies held in 1995, a
resolution was adopted that outlined the responsibilities of
States when designing, imposing and reviewing economic
sanctions, including assessing the effects on third States that
might be adversely affected. States were encouraged to
provide relief for the most vulnerable groups and the
victims of complex emergencies in their territories, and to
permit relief operations of a strictly humanitarian character
for the benefit of the most vulnerable groups within the
civilian population.

47.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs is involved in developing methodologies to address
the humanitarian impact of sanctions and to facilitate the
processing of humanitarian exemptions. At the request of
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, and with support
from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO), UNDP, UNICEF and WFP, a study
commissioned by the Office, entitled "Towards more human
and effective sanctions management", elaborated a
substantial methodology. The Committee has set up a
technical group of experts to further develop the
methodology and to be able to conduct technical assessment
missions at short notice.

48.  It is also important to note that the long-term effects
that sanctions regimes have on development, such as stunted
growth of children or falling school attendance, represent
a threat to the ability of the population to regain its previous
health and social situation. These long-term consequences,
and their effect on recovery and development, are not
necessarily alleviated by short-term humanitarian
interventions. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee's
technical group of experts will seek to elaborate objective
indicators to assess and monitor these consequences.

        F.     Staff security

49.  Concerns about the security of humanitarian workers
have been highlighted by tragic incidents in several
countries. Since 1992, 139 United Nations civilian staff
have been killed and 143 taken hostage while serving in
operations worldwide. Between 1996 and 1997, the Red
Cross movement lost 23 staff in the Great Lakes Region of
Africa alone. This year a WFP staff member was killed in
Angola and a staff member belonging to the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
was abducted in North Ossetia and remains missing. These
are but a few examples of the dangers faced by humanitarian
staff in the course of their everyday work. In some areas
humanitarian workers of the United Nations and other
international agencies have been targeted by the de facto
authorities in incidents of violence, including kidnapping,
armed robbery and looting. In this environment the United
Nations is obliged to prepare for possible incidents almost
anywhere. This is particularly difficult to do effectively
when a shortage of funds has limited the recruitment of
security professionals to less than 100 persons, to support
the deployment of over 30,000 United Nations field staff.
As requested by the General Assembly in its resolution
52/167 of 16 December 1997, the Secretary-General is
submitting a separate special report to the Assembly at its
fifty-third session on the security of United Nations and
other humanitarian staff in the field, to which members of
the Inter-Agency Standing Committee have contributed
extensively, and which is being prepared by the United
Nations Security Coordinator. In addition, the Security
Council has requested a report, which is in preparation, on
the protection of humanitarian assistance to refugees and
others in conflict situations.

        V.     Response to natural disasters and
               environmental emergencies

50.  Between the beginning of 1997 and March 1998, the
United Nations provided assistance to 51 Member States in
their efforts to cope with the impact of 77 natural disasters
and environmental emergencies. Over 200 situation reports
were issued to alert and mobilize the international donor
community and facilitate coordination of the response. In
39 cases, disaster-affected countries requested the
Department of Humanitarian Affairs or the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to launch appeals for
international assistance on their behalf. In response to these
appeals, the international community reported over US$ 286
million worth of contributions in cash, kind and services for
emergency relief assistance. In this context, the United
Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC)
teams, which are led by the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs and include representatives from
donor countries as well as from relevant United Nations and
non-United Nations humanitarian agencies, are increasingly
deployed to provide a rapid needs assessment and to assist
the relevant authorities and the United Nations Resident
Coordinator with the coordination of the international
response to natural disasters. Over 40 such teams have been
deployed since 1994. In cooperation with Member States
and operational United Nations agencies, the UNDAC
concept will be further developed to enhance its value,
through broadening the participation of relevant United
Nations agencies, particularly UNDP and WFP. During
1997, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs warehouse,
based in Pisa, Italy, organized 41 air and road shipments of
relief goods to 21 countries affected by both natural
disasters and complex emergencies. In 1997, UNDP
supported in-country coordination of the United Nations
response to 40 disasters in 36 countries through the
allocation of $5.4 million.

51.  Large-scale disasters are striking whole regions.
Countries of the Horn of Africa were seriously affected by
floods that started in November 1997. In Somalia alone, this
emergency affected the lives of up to 1 million people and
the death toll exceeded 2,000. Torrential rains poured down
over central and eastern Europe in July 1997, resulting in
unprecedented flooding over large areas of the Czech
Republic, Germany, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, directly
affecting 5 million people. In Poland losses amounted to at
least 1 per cent of the national domestic product. In the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, drought conditions
led to a devastating famine.

52.  The Latin American and Caribbean region has
suffered the consequences of the unusually strong impact
of the El Nin~o phenomenon. In Ecuador, floods, sea surges
and mudslides have affected the coastal region since
September 1997. The damage to the infrastructure has been
estimated at $300 million and thousands of people have had
to be evacuated. In Peru, similarly unusual weather
conditions have, since the end of 1997, produced heavy
rains resulting in flooding and landslides in the northern,
central and southern parts of the country. A state of
emergency was declared in over half the country. In March
1998, widespread forest fires devastated large areas of
Roraima State in Brazil, again attributed to the adverse
weather effects of the El Nin~o phenomenon.

53.  The number and scale of environmental emergencies
in different parts of the world are rising at an alarming rate.
From September to November 1997, parts of Brunei
Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Thailand were seriously affected by dense
haze stemming primarily from large-scale forest fires in
Indonesia, in turn caused by using fire for land clearing, and
aggravated by the El Nin~o-induced drought conditions. It
is estimated that the overall area burned in 1997 totalled
about 2 million hectares.

54.  Some countries are struck by recurrent disasters of
great magnitude. The Islamic Republic of Iran suffered a
series of earthquakes early in 1997, the third of which, in
South Khorasan on 10 May, was the most damaging; over
1,500 people lost their lives and some 50,000 were left
homeless. Several countries have also suffered severe
environmental damage as a result of the prolonged stay on
their territory of refugees from conflicts in neighbouring
countries. Deforestation, pollution of water sources, loss of
agricultural land and consequent population pressure in
areas unable to sustain it create severe and long-lasting
problems which have received insufficient attention from
the international community.

55.  The response to disasters is further complicated when
they occur in a complex emergency situation. In February
and May 1998, remote areas of Takhar and Badakshan
provinces of Afghanistan were struck by strong earthquakes,
killing over 5,000 people. On the first occasion,
international relief efforts were seriously impaired by
extreme weather conditions and the remoteness of the
affected areas. Within days an appeal for an air operation
had been launched and an UNDAC team was deployed to
support the Office of the United Nations Humanitarian
Coordinator for Afghanistan. This disaster illustrated the
need for emergency rules and procedures to be developed
to enable the United Nations to disburse emergency funds
more quickly, to procure emergency supplies and equipment
and to recruit emergency staff. Standby mechanisms of
cooperation between peacekeeping and humanitarian actors
are also valuable so that humanitarian organizations can
benefit promptly from the tools at the disposal of
peacekeeping missions.

56.  Efforts have been made to increase the immediate
availability of funds for natural disaster response by
encouraging donors to contribute to a reserve established
under the United Nations Trust Fund for Disaster Relief
Assistance. So far, two Governments have made annual
contributions to this reserve. In case of disaster, an amount
agreed with the donor is allocated as a voluntary
contribution for a specific relief operation and the funds are
disbursed without delay. In view of the positive experience
with this arrangement, it is hoped that additional donors will
wish to contribute.

57.  In order to adapt to the varying nature and increasing
complexity of disasters, new ways of delivering an
international response are being developed. An International
Emergency Response Consultative Mechanism has been
formulated to promote the effective use and coordination
of international assets. The Mechanism has its roots in two
existing international emergency management networks: the
International Search and Rescue Advisory Group
(INSARAG) and the Military and Civil Defence Assets
(MCDA) network. A database exists containing information
on a large number of military and civil defence assets, which
might be made available in future emergencies. However,
there is a need to determine which assets are most likely to
be needed and to obtain a stronger sense of commitment
from donor countries to ensure that those assets are actually
available when required.

58.  United Nations agencies have collaborated with the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the
Resident Coordinators in natural disaster prevention,
mitigation and response. For example, WFP has led the
response to the floods and droughts in the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea. It has allocated resources for
prevention, mitigation and response in over 25 countries,
including extensive contingency planning in South Africa
to deal with the effects of El Nin~o. WFP and UNICEF
responded to the floods in Somalia by using standby
arrangements and rapid response mechanisms to deploy
boats and organize air drops of food and medicine that
greatly contributed to saving lives. FAO has focused on
monitoring the impact on agriculture, forestry and fisheries
of serious weather anomalies around the world believed to
be linked to the El Nin~o phenomenon. It has also undertaken
a number of measures to ensure that the international
community is kept continually informed of the possible
impact of El Nin~o on global, national and household food
security. UNDP established national capacity-building
programmes for disaster management in 11 countries.
Similarly, three programmes to mitigate the worst effects
of El Nin~o were launched in Latin America.

59.  The lingering effects of the Chernobyl disaster call for
an intensification of resource mobilization efforts. In
addition, the number and magnitude of emergencies and
natural disasters that periodically strike the world are today
stretching to the limit the organizational resources of those
providing humanitarian assistance. The optimum utilization
of telecommunications technology in disaster prevention,
preparedness and response is crucial. However, the
transborder use of telecommunications equipment is
frequently impeded by regulatory barriers; hence, the
importance of the Convention on the Provision of
Telecommunications Resources for Disaster Mitigation and
Relief Operations, to be adopted at the Intergovernmental
Conference on Emergency Telecommunications in 1998.
Agreements between the United Nations and individual
member countries are being negotiated on the application
of simplified customs formalities for the movement of relief
teams and supplies. In response to General Assembly
resolution 52/169 M of 16 December 1997, urging the 
international community to provide assistance to the
population affected by nuclear fallout in the Semipalatinsk
region of Kazakhstan, UNDP, together with a support group
including the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the
International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department
of Political Affairs, has organized an inter-agency mission
to take place in June 1998. Its findings will be reported to
the Secretary-General.

60.  The frequency of requests for urgent international
environmental assistance is growing rapidly. The lack of
appropriate legal mechanisms represents a substantial
problem in this area. Developing countries are often
reluctant to notify the international community and request
assistance in case of environmental emergencies. As a
result, international assistance in this field is provided at
present on a case-by-case basis and, in many instances, with
significant delays. A proposal on a convention on early
notification and assistance in the case of environmental
emergencies could be pursued jointly by UNEP and the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs with
potentially interested countries. 

61.  Invariably, the lesson most frequently learned after
natural disasters and environmental emergencies is that the
United Nations should strengthen its efforts to promote
disaster preparedness at the country and regional levels.
This requires close interaction between the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNEP, UNDP and
other entities of the United Nations system. This will
involve information exchange, consultations on pre-disaster
response preparedness, field presence and post-emergency
follow-up and institutional handover, as well as joint and
cooperative planning and evaluations. The strategic
objective is to pool ideas and resources and to maximize the
impact of the entire United Nations system in all aspects of
disaster response, in the overall context of international
efforts towards disaster reduction. These initiatives need to
be closely coordinated with interested Governments and
regional organizations. Particular attention will be given to
developing arrangements to utilize capacities that exist in
developing countries, and that may be available closer to
the location of the disaster and are less costly than supplies
from developed countries. Work to develop the capacity of
non-governmental organizations in disaster-prone countries
and to promote improvements in the quality of equipment
manufactured in developing countries will also be

      VI.     Relief and development

62.  Countries undergoing protracted emergencies or
recovering from long periods of conflict pose a particular
challenge to the international community. Often the
Governments are extremely weak, control only a part of the
territory or are based on the dominance of one ethnic or
religious group. Traditional approaches to development
programming are clearly inadequate. The emergence from
conflict may be accompanied by large-scale population
movements and by continuing threats to human rights,
arising from a desire to settle scores after the war. In such
situations there is a particular need for a coordinated
approach by the international community and for a common
understanding among aid donors of the principles that will
govern aid programmes.

63.  The relief/development debate arises from the idea
that the victims of conflict require relief, while countries
recovering after conflict require development assistance.
At its simplest level the dilemma is that to continue the
delivery of relief assistance once the conflict is over may
distort economic relations, create dependencies on external
relief assistance and impede the recovery process. But to
suspend relief operations abruptly may leave many people
without a means of subsistence, and could even reignite the
conflict if people are forced into desperate situations.

64.  As the international community has gained experience
in more and more countries going through protracted
emergencies, understanding of the complexity of the issue
has improved. The links between humanitarian assistance,
development programmes, promotion of human rights and
issues of governance are being explored. Nevertheless, in
a number of countries in recent years a dangerous gap has
emerged between the "relief phase" and the "development
phase" of assistance programmes. Ways of dealing with this
problem have been widely discussed among the
organizations confronted with the problem in the field, as
well as at conferences and in academic papers. The
following paragraphs review the present status of the
debate, identify points on which progress has been made and
highlight issues that still require discussion, agreement and
specific action.

65.  The concept of the continuum linking relief and
development programmes is now recognized as inadequate.
Even if not intended, the term "continuum" gives the
impression of a linear progression between a situation in
which relief is appropriate and one in which development
is required. Recent experience has demonstrated that the
phases of relief, rehabilitation and development are
generally not consecutive, but overlap and often take place
simultaneously, depending on the geographical area and the
needs of specific target groups in a particular country. It has
also come to be understood that relief and development
cannot be seen in isolation from the political and human
rights contexts. Development assistance providers have
recognized that, when possible, efforts should be made to
continue development activities during periods of extended
crisis, since they can play an important preventive role.
Assistance to countries emerging from conflict must be seen
as part of an overall peace-building effort. At its session in
April 1997, ACC agreed that peace-building, as a broad-based 
approach to crisis prevention and resolution, should
comprise integrated and coordinated actions aimed at
addressing any combination of political, military,
humanitarian, human rights, environmental, economic,
social, cultural and demographic factors.

66.  In this context, coordinating mechanisms take on
particular importance. There have been cases where
coordination of the humanitarian and development agendas
has not been well integrated. Humanitarian agencies have
sometimes assumed that development agencies were ready
to "pick up the reins" when relief programmes were phased
out, and this was not the case. Similarly, development
agencies may expect that humanitarian programmes will
continue to receive donor funding even after the immediate
crisis is over. Bilateral donors and the Bretton Woods
institutions have sometimes not been associated with
coordination mechanisms established by United Nations

67.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee and its
members have tried to identify ways of overcoming these
problems, both in general and in specific situations. In most
countries the posts of Resident Coordinator and
Humanitarian Coordinator have been assumed by the same
individual, thereby facilitating coordination. In addition,
recent appeals launched under the consolidated appeals
process have included components of short-term
rehabilitation, as part of the "bridging process";
development agencies are increasingly aware that they need
to start planning and initiating post-conflict interventions
much earlier in the process; and all international actors are
aware that relief programmes must be designed in ways that
support civil society and that do not disrupt or destroy
existing "coping mechanisms" within affected communities.
In short, the United Nations and its partners need a strategy
and sense of direction from the outset. This needs to be
elaborated in the first consolidated appeal. The consolidated
appeals process must be a programming instrument that
goes beyond relief and that is sufficiently flexible to be
adapted over time. There is growing interest in the
possibility that strategic frameworks may be developed, in
which political, human rights, humanitarian and
development actors work out an integrated planning
approach covering all sectors of activity. A number of these
issues are reviewed in more detail in the following

68.  As noted earlier in the report, there have been
suggestions recently that humanitarian action in some
circumstances does harm as well as good. The need for
relief aid, like that for development, must be carefully
assessed and then the aid distributed in a manner that avoids
misappropriation, market distortions, disincentives for
production and a culture of dependency. The challenge is
to distinguish between those households that can cope with
little or no assistance, without missing out those most in
need. However, targeting efforts are affected by problems
of access, insecurity and unreliable information, as well as
logistic and cost constraints. A coordinated needs
assessment allows concerned agencies to better determine
which population groups need assistance, what type, for
how long and how much. There is also a growing
understanding among United Nations and other agencies
that the principles of development programming need to be
taken into account when planning relief programmes.
Donors must recognize that while media coverage of large-scale 
disasters dictates that food, clothing and medical care
must be made available quickly and directly to the victims,
in some cases the most effective forms of assistance may be
of a more long-term nature.

69.  Particular difficulties may arise in situations where
large numbers of people are trying to return to their original
homes. Their homes may already be occupied by desperate
displaced people who have nowhere else to go or by other
groups of returnees. Refugees returning from outside the
country may bring with them resources, and entitlements to
additional assistance, which far exceed what is available to
the people who have lived through the war. Planning
assistance programmes in these circumstances can be
extremely difficult, particularly when the imperatives of the
countries hosting the refugees (which would like them to
return home quickly), conflict with the development
priorities of the Government in power. In such a conflict of
priorities, humanitarian agencies may find themselves
supporting one side, while development agencies support
the other. Unless an institutional structure is established in
which such conflicts can be worked out, there is a real
danger that refugees may be encouraged, or even forced, to
return home to a situation that is absolutely unprepared to
receive them. When situations of this kind arise in a specific
country, it may be helpful to organize a high-level meeting
bringing together all the major stakeholders, including the
host Government, donors, humanitarian and development
agencies and the international financial institutions, to adopt
a common strategy to prevent the country from falling into
the relief/development gap. This approach has already
shown positive results in Cambodia and Mozambique, and
is now being tried in Rwanda, where UNDP, together with
United Nations humanitarian and specialized agencies and
the Government, develop commonly agreed strategies and
seek to ensure that assistance for rehabilitation and
reintegration of returnees are fully coordinated.

70.  Prolonged targeting by the international community
of vulnerable groups such as returnees and internally
displaced persons, if not properly planned, can also deepen
social and ethnic divisions. This is of particular importance
with regard to the reintegration of former combatants into
civil society. Relief and development providers need to
synchronize activities so that in the aftermath of crisis,
programming begins to address the needs of wider
communities. Attention to the specific needs of women is
also of key importance. The role of women as conciliators
and agents of recovery can be of particular value. Women
have had to develop special skills needed to rebuild
societies, to restore shattered economies and to create new
social and educational networks. The process of self-empowerment 
that women have undergone in crisis situations should be 
recognized as an often pivotal positive change that can sustain 
reconciliation and promote recovery.

71.  The problem of the relief/development gap can be
exacerbated by the sharp distinction in most donor countries
between emergency budgets and development budgets.
These are usually handled by different departments, involve
different assessment and approval processes, and have
different political objectives and radically different 
time-frames for disbursement. While such distinctions were of
little significance when emergencies were short-term
localized phenomena, they become much more significant
in countries suffering from long drawn-out institutionalized
emergencies. This is particularly the case when the political
conditions in the affected country are such that the donor
providing emergency relief may be unwilling to consider
providing development aid. Recognizing this problem, a
number of Governments and donor organizations have
sought to introduce new budget lines that allow them to
support short-term rehabilitation activities with funds
allocated from emergency budgets. This is an important
development that deserves to be widely adopted. However,
it is not in itself an adequate substitute for the ability to
deploy development funds rapidly in countries emerging
from conflict, and there is a danger that such transitional
funds may come to constitute a third funding mechanism,
difficult to coordinate with the emergency and development

72.  In recent years, all United Nations agencies have
carried out or sponsored serious reviews of policy and
practice in the relief/development field. These have
produced important insights and led to the adoption of new
policies in the executive boards of several United Nations
agencies. In April 1997, the Department of Humanitarian
Affairs and UNDP jointly sponsored a workshop in Turin,
Italy, in which significant conclusions were reached,
particularly regarding the relationships between various aid
actors and the processes involved in planning assistance in
post-conflict situations. These studies have recognized that
the development agencies must develop a capacity and
culture that enable them to work in "failed" and "weak"
States, and not only in "normal" peacetime situations. They
have recognized that in countries wracked by social
tensions, the process of reconciliation and capacity-building
of civil society must be an integral part of recovery
programmes. They have built on the experience of work
with local communities to show that well-designed relief
programmes can incorporate rehabilitation objectives from
the outset. And they have made it clear that reconstruction
does not simply mean rebuilding the society as it was before
the conflict, but also addressing the socio-economic causes
of the conflict. Recovery can and should include new ideas
about sustainable governance, respect for human rights and
economic management. 

73.  There have also been initiatives to ensure that
improved respect for human rights is among the objectives
of assistance programmes, particularly in post-conflict
societies. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs is participating, along with the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNDP, the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the
Department of Political Affairs, in the Task Force on the
Integration of Human Rights into Conflict Prevention,
Peacemaking, Peacekeeping and Peace-building, which is
considering the importance of institutional protections for
human rights to a development plan that will ensure the
long-term efficacy of humanitarian relief efforts. This
approach is consistent with the emphasis in the reform
programme (A/51/950) on mainstreaming human rights in
the activities of the Organization. This issue was also
addressed at a meeting organized by the World Bank in
Paris in April 1998 on post-conflict reconstruction, which
brought together humanitarian, development and human
rights institutions, as well as major bilateral and multilateral
donors, to discuss more effective strategies to deal with both
the aftermath of conflict and the root causes of humanitarian

74.  The role of the international financial institutions is
also particularly significant. The endorsement by the Board
of Directors of the World Bank in May 1997 of A
Framework for World Bank Involvement in Post-Conflict
Reconstruction is a helpful development. The Framework
recognizes the need for the Bank to avoid interventions that
may make conflict more likely and outlines a five-stage
process for Bank offices working in countries affected by
conflict. Of particular significance are the second and third
stages of the process that require the Bank to develop a
transitional support strategy when it seems likely that the
conflict may come to an end, and then to initiate early
reconstruction activities as soon as the conflict is over. The
recognition by the Bank of the importance of an early
dialogue with humanitarian agencies and the need to
participate in effective coordination mechanisms is
welcome. This coordination is of particular importance in
countries emerging from conflict and that have embarked
on simultaneous processes of economic reform and peace-building. 
In the post-conflict environment, it is important
that structural adjustment programmes should also be
"peace-friendly", and not put at risk the process of
rebuilding the social infrastructure.

75.  A theme underlying much of this debate is that of the
capacity of post-conflict societies to manage their own
affairs. Considerable emphasis is placed on capacity-building. 
In the aftermath of crisis, recovery does not
necessarily mean a return to the status quo ante. The
international community needs to assess social changes that
might have taken place as a result of the conflict. An
environment should be created in which national authorities
and new actors are involved in the planning, programming
and prioritization of economic recovery activities early on.
Broad-based consultative processes can empower a nation
emerging from crisis by allowing it to control its own
destiny, thus encouraging national ownership and social
recovery. Therefore, issues of capacity-building and
governance raise fundamental questions of economic and
public sector restructuring. Of critical importance is the
reversal of the outflow of indigenous expertise and capital
provoked by the crisis, through the establishment of special

76.  It is now recognized that there are important issues at
stake in the immediate post-conflict situation, which are not
traditionally part of either relief or development, but which
must be addressed in any comprehensive recovery
programme. These include disarmament, demobilization,
reconciliation, mine clearance and awareness, policing,
democratization, and human rights issues, such as judicial
accountability. Practical programmes for refugee return,
investment in infrastructure and rebuilding of social services
can all be put at risk if demobilization of irregular fighters
is badly handled, or if the police force is incapable of
ensuring a degree of law and order. If these issues are to be
effectively addressed in a comprehensive recovery
programme, political peace-building and human rights
initiatives need to be integrated with the economic and
social activities of the aid community. Too often these
initiatives are developed separately in ways that fail to be
mutually supportive. 

77.  As noted earlier in the report, action to reduce the
threat of mines and unexploded ordnance is one area of
work in which encouraging progress has been recorded in
the past year. However, the humanitarian implications of
landmines remain a significant concern. The United Nations
will continue to advocate for a total ban on the use, transfer
and stockpiling of landmines and for programmes that
address the needs of affected communities and benefit mine
survivors. The Mine Action Service of the Department of
Peacekeeping Operations has strengthened its capacity to
meet its responsibilities as the United Nations focal point
on landmines. At the country level, Resident Coordinators
and Humanitarian Coordinators should, in consultation with
the Mine Action Service, take steps to ensure effective
determination of mine action priorities, including assistance
to victims, by regularly bringing together representatives
of the local government, donor Governments, United
Nations and international agencies, non-governmental
organizations, and the community of landmine survivors.

78.  The conclusion is that all aid interventions, whether
humanitarian, developmental, political or financial, are
inextricably linked in their consequences for the recipient
country. In order that their interaction should not result in
unintended negative consequences, they need to be planned
together, and as early as possible, where possible even
before the conflict is over. Strategic frameworks need to be
developed. These should reflect a common analysis of the
political context and a common assessment of needs. They
should identify and prioritize key components of a
sustainable and integrated approach. They should also
reflect a consensus on the guiding principles for programme
implementation, and they must engage all the major
stakeholders, including, in particular, the host Government
and local communities, as well as donors. As concluded in
the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict
and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable
development in Africa:

          "In some situations of conflict or post-conflict peace-building, 
          a strategic framework' approach may also
          be appropriate, providing the basis for a coherent
          effort by the entire United Nations system in countries
          in crisis. The strategic framework would especially
          embrace political, human rights, humanitarian and
          development activities aimed at promoting a durable
          peace and sustainable development. Such an effort
          would encompass all partners in the United Nations
          system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, as
          well as national authorities, donor organizations and
          non-governmental organizations" (A/52/871-S/1998/318, para. 70).

                        VII. Observations

79.  The blatant disregard for the basic principles of
international humanitarian law that has been witnessed in
conflicts in recent years is an issue of the greatest concern
to all involved in international humanitarian action. It has
fundamentally transformed the nature of humanitarian
programmes in several countries. It is an issue that must be
addressed on several fronts simultaneously. First, new
efforts are required to strengthen the knowledge of
humanitarian principles among combatants in all kinds of
conflicts. Secondly, a concerted programme of action must
be developed to ensure that these principles are in fact
applied by combatants and that civilians in areas affected
by armed conflict are, to the extent possible, protected.
Thirdly, and closely related, the perpetrators of violence
against civilian populations and aid workers must be
brought to justice. In this context, particular emphasis is
placed on the need to support the international tribunals for
Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and to ensure that the
Charter of the new International Criminal Court allows it
to address the type of breaches of humanitarian law outlined
in the present report. Fourthly, the capacity of United
Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations to
provide security for their staff must be strengthened. And
fifthly, full support must be extended to recent initiatives
to halt the proliferation of small arms and landmines in
areas where they may be used indiscriminately against the
civilian population. The progress in the Ottawa process with
regard to the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Use,
Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel
Mines and on their Destruction is particularly welcomed,
and Member States are encouraged to ratify and implement
the Treaty. The initiative to introduce a moratorium on the
import, sale and production of small arms by the ECOWAS
group in West Africa is also warmly welcomed.

80.  The present report catalogues substantial progress in
reinforcing and improving mechanisms for the coordination
of humanitarian assistance programmes, both at
Headquarters and in the field. For instance, arrangements
have been agreed for cooperative activities in support of
internally displaced persons and in the area of monitoring
and evaluation. It has also been agreed that a roster of
candidates should be developed, as well as a cadre of
coordination support staff from members of the Inter-Agency 
Standing Committee to ensure consistency in field
coordination mechanisms. This will entail developing an
inter-agency joint training programme for such staff and
then maintaining the necessary rosters. The Secretary-General 
would like to express his sincere appreciation to the
heads of the United Nations agencies and programmes, as
well as other Committee participants, for their support for
these initiatives. Full implementation of these agreed
measures will require the allocation of resources, in a spirit
of burden-sharing, to common programmes. Requirements
in the fields of security, communications and staff training
are examples. In this regard, it is to be hoped that, where
necessary, these requirements will be brought promptly to
the attention of the governing boards of agencies for their

81.  The Secretary-General is greatly encouraged by the
growing recognition that in countries emerging from
protracted crises a comprehensive peace-building strategy
needs to be put together, which engages the national
authorities, civil society and all external stakeholders. This
is a complex exercise that will require concerted and
continuous attention. More work can usefully be undertaken
on developing conceptual models as well as practical
strategies in specific situations. Work on this issue within
the United Nations system is a major focus of attention for
the Deputy Secretary-General.

82.  Recent events have demonstrated the vulnerability of
the planet to natural, environmental and technological
disasters. There is much more that can be done to ensure
that, where possible, such disasters are prevented, and that,
where this is not possible, a rapid coordinated and effective
response is mounted. As the last year of the International
Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction approaches,
particular attention should be paid to this question, with
special emphasis on the need to develop the capacity of
Governments and non-governmental organizations in
disaster-prone countries.

83.  A much wider segment of civil society must be
involved in the efforts to change perceptions and raise
awareness of humanitarian issues. Non-governmental
organizations can play a particularly significant part in these
efforts. It is the intention of the Secretary-General to ask his
representatives in every part of the world to develop new
links to civil society in their countries in a bid to strengthen
the advocacy of humanitarian principles and to raise public
awareness of the importance of supporting humanitarian

84.  The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by what
has become an extremely serious gap between the
humanitarian needs identified by United Nations agencies
and programmes and the funding provided by donors. In
recent years, United Nations agencies have made major
strides in meeting the requirements of donors for reporting
and consultation. In spite of this, the resources made
available have declined dramatically both in absolute terms
and as a proportion of programme requirements. A review
has therefore been proposed, fully coordinated with donor
Governments, of the funding of humanitarian programmes.
This review would also explore the relationship between
funding provided for emergencies and resources made
available for development programming. Particular
emphasis needs to be placed on identifying ways of
obtaining adequate voluntary funding quickly in situations
where donor Governments have been fully involved in the
elaboration of a programme. Rapid response in the early
stages of a crisis can make a remarkable difference and can
lessen the overall funding burden.

85.  Finally, the Secretary-General would like to pay a
most sincere tribute to the courage and dedication of aid
workers throughout the world who daily put their lives at
risk, in order to bring vital assistance to those in need.


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Date last posted: 10 January 2000 10:05:30
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