Principles of Partnership: A Statement of Commitment
The Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) was first established in 2006 by leaders of 40 humanitarian organisations including NGOs, UN agencies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Bank, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The GHP adopted Principles of Partnership (PoP) in 2007. The PoP (Equality, Transparency, Results-Oriented Approach and Responsibility) were an attempt to fix some gaps within the humanitarian reform process. This included neglecting local and national response capacity.
The Principles of Partnership aimed to provide a common framework with respect to good practices within the humanitarian field....
Overview of Principles of Partnerships
The Principles of Partnership (Equality, Transparency, Results-Oriented Approach, Responsibility and Complementarity) were an attempt to acknowledge some gaps within the humanitarian reform process, which included neglecting the role of local and national humanitarian response capacity.
The PoP are not only applicable to UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and international NGOs (INGOs). The PoP provide a framework for all actors in the humanitarian space – including Governments, academia, the private sector and affected populations – in order to engage on a more equal, constructive and transparent setting. With an ever-increasing number and diversity of actors in the humanitarian sector, the PoP remain a key point of reference for partnership inception, development, implementation and review.
The PoP should serve as a reminder of the ongoing need to ensure that partnership arrangements with all humanitarian actors are rooted in equality. Further, that the implementation of humanitarian activities seeks to involve, respect and react to valuable input from all partners and crisis-affected communities.
The implementation of the PoP
Since 2007, a range of practical avenues has been identified for NGOs and wider humanitarian actors to implement the PoP within their operations. These include:
Make explicit reference to, and use, the PoP in all partnership agreements/ memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the UN, other NGOs, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent (RC/RC) Movement and evaluate how all parties to the agreements/MoUs adhered to the PoPs.
Report in annual reports on how you are putting the PoP into practice.
Ensure the PoP are part of the terms of reference/modus operandi of all coordination meetings/clusters.
In developing project proposals, refer to how the PoP will be used in the project’s implementation.
In job postings, refer to the PoP and ask about candidates’ views on partnership.
Ensure that partnership skills are an essential qualification considered when recruiting and appraising staff.
Use the PoP to advocate for improved performance from those in other humanitarian agencies and from the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC).
Ensure that Common Humanitarian Action Plans (CHAPs) and Consolidated Appeals Processes (CAPs) are developed in line with the PoP and potentially refer to how the PoP will form part of the coordination efforts in the country.
When talking to governments and local authorities, ensure that they know you will apply the PoP in your work.
When talking to media, refer to partnerships and how you are carrying them out with regard to the PoP.
The challenges and difficulties in implementing the PoP
Despite a clear agreement in the importance of the PoP, there have remained numerous challenges in the effective implementation of the PoP, including:
Whilst the PoP are generally seen as relevant, these Principles need to be contextualized in different situations.
The recognition the PoP are hard to imbue across organizations – as they often relate to people’s work and efforts within those organizations.
Across various actors, there remain operational challenges around transparency (including financial transparency), inclusion in coordination mechanisms and improved information management and sharing.
On occasion, the PoP have been viewed in a light of being yet another layer of work imposed by headquarters.
Underlying drivers of money and power imbalances, place increasing pressure on partnerships within the humanitarian sector – on occasion resulting in withholding of information between the UN and NGOs, and INGOs dominating NNGOs.
Ongoing rollout of the PoP
Following the endorsement of the Principles of Partnership in 2007, they were then tested in three country contexts: Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and El Salvador (as part of the Panama regional hub). Since then, organisations have been reporting on their use and providing general feedback on the PoP. This feedback was also shared during the 2008 GHP meeting. Organisations are encouraged to keep reporting on how they use the PoP in their operations and partnerships.
ICVA encourages all of its members to apply the Principles of Partnership in their work and throughout their organisations.
Resources for the Principles of Partnership
1 January 2007
Principles of Partnership: Working Better to Enhance Humanitarian Response
The Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) was an initiative flowing from a July 2006 dialogue between the United Nations (UN) and non-government organisations (NGOs). 40 leaders of humanitarian organisations from the UN, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, the International Organization for Migration and the World Bank came together to discuss ways to improve partnerships between diverse humanitarian organisations.
The participants of the dialogue agreed to seek ways to strengthen collaborative work at both the global and the field level, and committed themselves to work together in a spirit of partnership.
The dialogue, co chaired by Jan Egeland, (Emergency Relief coordinator) and Elizabeth Ferris, from the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, representing the non-UN organisations, was held in Geneva from 12-13 July 2006.
What was the GHP?
The GHP was a stand alone forum bringing together the three main families of the humanitarian community NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and the UN and related international organisations.
Three annual meetings of the GHP were held in 2007, 2008, and 2010. In between these meetings a steering committee, a working level group, and latterly a task force team were assigned to oversee the GHP process and implementation of activities.
What was the purpose of the GHP?
The overall goal of the GHP was to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian action.
A key commitment was to look closely at current practices of partnerships, to identify practices that could improve relationships between humanitarian organisations. The GHP also placed a special focus on strengthening the involvement and engagement of national organisations, as they are often the first to respond to disasters, and have more detailed knowledge of the communities in which they operate.
The humanitarian reforms of the time were also looking to strengthen humanitarian response through improved partnerships between humanitarian organisations, promoting greater mutual respect, and ensuring that roles and responsibilities of humanitarian partners were defined through transparent, inclusive and consultative processes.
The key activities of the GHP were to:
Achieve a common understanding on the concept of partnership by developing “Principles of Partnership” (PoP), which will include principles such as diversity, mutual respect, responsibility, and transparency. Partners in the GHP will ensure that these principles will permeate their operations and actions.
Invest in implementing the Principles of Partnership (PoP) in a growing number of countries. In the countries where the Principles of Partnership are implemented, organisations will need to take ownership of the process by which the Principles are put into practice.
Engage in a dialogue on strategic issues of common concern and express views that seek to address these common concerns. They included: our accountability to the populations for and with whom we work; our strengthening of the capacity of local actors; the safety and security of our staff; and our roles in situations of transition.
Meet annually to take stock of the progress to date and make adjustments, where appropriate.
What did the GHP achieve?
An important achievement during the first year of the GHP was the development and endorsement of the Principles of Partnership (PoP). Leaders of UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, agreed to base their partnerships on the principles of equality, transparency, a results oriented approach, responsibility and complementarity. The PoP were endorsed at the July 2007 Global Humanitarian Platform meeting, co chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, and ICVA’s Thomas Getman. At the same meeting, leaders of the GHP partner organisations agreed to implement the principles within their own organisations policies and to provide feedback to the GHP on the applications of the PoP.
PoP in practice
A number of tools were developed to encourage partners to use and evaluate the implementation of the PoP. Since their endorsement the PoP became a common point of reference, however there was general agreement at both the 2008 and the 2010 GHP meetings that there was still much to be done if the PoP were to be mainstreamed into all aspects of humanitarian work.
Key challenges to putting PoP into practice included:
Lack of awareness of the PoP by many national NGO;
The lack of reference in the PoP to partnerships with other key actors in humanitarian aid – governments, private sector, military groups; and
The poor access of national and local NGOs to funding mechanisms.
Discussions at the IASC Principals meetings about the importance of partnerships, the growing complexities of the humanitarian military relationships, and the need for more diverse funding channels have kept the strategic dialogue on the importance of partnerships and how to improve them very much alive.
During 2008 regional workshops, held in Jordan and Thailand, discussed the progress to date of the implementation of the PoP, highlighting the need for coordination mechanisms to be more inclusive of humanitarian partners. Case studies in Myanmar and Chad in the same year illustrated some of the major challenges of implementing the PoP, in particular the difficulties around civil-military relationships, a lack of experienced humanitarian staff, and the complexities of working with national and local NGOs.
A campaign to promote the Principles of Partnership which calls upon all humanitarian actors to ensure that the Principles of Partnership are foundational in all humanitarian partnerships....
Overview of the #ICVAPoP Campaign
In the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), and building on momentum from the ICVA network over the last 12 months in support of the Principles of Partnership, the ICVA network has submitted its contribution to the WHS Secretariat: ‘The Power of Principled Partnerships’.
Complemented by the #ICVAPoP campaign, ICVA calls upon:
The WHS Secretariat, to promote the Principles of Partnership and ensure they are reflected in key WHS outputs, specifically the Synthesis report and the Secretary General’s report.
All humanitarian actors, to ensure the Principles of Partnership are foundational in all humanitarian partnerships, including between and among: affected populations, Member States, the UN, International Organizations, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, academia and the private sector.
Why the Principles of Partnership? Why now?
It has been over seven years since the Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) introduced the Principles of Partnership (PoP). The PoP were identified as foundational principles to bring together humanitarian actors on an equal footing. The PoP include:
Since 2007, humanitarian actors have developed numerous tools to implement the PoP -and to report on their implementation. Over the years, NGO partnerships have provided many examples of challenges and successes in implementing the PoP, often in difficult and testing crises.
ICVA believes that the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) provides an important opportunity to highlight partnerships, and in particular, the PoP. The WHS four thematic areas, and the seven themes2 emerging from the recent WHS thematic meeting in Bonn, further highlight the importance of principled partnerships in humanitarian action.
Join the #ICVAPoP Campaign
ICVA is calling on all humanitarian organizations to support the Principles of Partnership, and to contribute how you apply these principles within your partnerships and programmes. ICVA invites you to:
In support of the Principles of Partnership, the ICVA network has launched the #ICVAPoP campaign, which calls upon all humanitarian actors to ensure:
The Principles of Partnership are foundational in all humanitarian partnerships, including between and among: affected populations, Member States, the UN, International Organizations, NGOs, the Red Cross Red Crescent, academia and the private sector.
Building on this campaign, ICVA urges the WHS Secretariat to:
Promote the Principles of Partnership and ensure they are reflected in key WHS outputs, specifically the Synthesis report and the Secretary General’s report.
ICVA is a global network of non-governmental organisations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.
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