Summary: Working Group on Civil Society and International Organizations Cooperation
Strengthening field cooperation
||17 July 2002, 14:00 – 15:30; Temp RS
Moderator(s):|| • Mr. Tony Hill, Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS)|
Presenters/ Participants:|| • Mr. Mamadou N'diaye, Office Africain pour le Développement et la Coopération (OFADEC)|
• Ms. Grainne O'Hara, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
• Mr. Sergio Piazzi, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
||Edith Rojas (ICVolunteers)
||Field cooperation, humanitarian assistance, NGOs, UNHCR, OCHA, civil society, participation
This session dealt with the issue of field cooperation between international organisation and civil society (NGOs) in matters relating to humanitarian assistance.
Speakers pointed out the crucial role that NGOs can play at the field level in supplying humanitarian assistance such as healthcare, education, food, community services or counselling.
Participation of NGOs at a policy level was also highlighted as a way to strengthen collaboration. Speakers stressed the importance of global consultation and information sharing.
Mr. Ndiaye of the Office Africain pour le Développement et la Coopération,
Senegal stated that cooperation between civil society and United Nations High Commission for Refugees
(UNHCR) is performed well and on a very large scale in the West African region. He pointed out the Partnership in Action Programme (PARINAC) launched by UNHCR in the 1990s, which clearly lists the goals in order to improve cooperation and foster dialogue. Through this programme, West African NGOs can make their voices heard and have a say in the policies set by UNHCR. Mr. Ndiaye said that this “double process” of consultation and information sharing enhances confidence within NGOs and UNHCR. Mr. Ndiaye added that NGO’s input and cost-efficiency in field activities are increasingly taken into
Ms. O Hara of UNHCR stressed that civil society in the shape of NGOs plays a crucial role in ensuring the effective protection of refugees. She outlined three kinds of practical co-operation between UNHCR and NGOs:
- Pro-active lobbying on an international level (e.g.: Amnesty International)
- Pro-active level through partnership with national NGOs working on a wide range issues
- Delivery of services to refugees and others of concerns through working arrangements with NGOs implementing partners.
Institutional mechanisms have also been set up within UNHCR in order to foster civil society participation, highlighting the role of NGOs actors (e.g. PARINAC, secondary arrangements, channels of communication such as the NGO unit, consultative processes such as the Global Consultations on International Protection). Mr. Piazzi ‘s organisation – OCHA – coordinates the collective efforts of the international community in humanitarian crises. He said that information flows are crucial and that NGOs, being at the front line for delivering humanitarian assistance, are critical actors. They have a good knowledge of the local situation and their logistic capacity complement’s OCHA’s coordinating role.
Mr. Piazzi of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs's major concern was related to the fact that military interventions are still often called humanitarian interventions. He said that the perception of the population is very important and that a sense of “impartiality” is needed. He clearly stressed that humanitarian should not be linked with military interventions.
Two interesting questions were raised:
- “How civil society can be more involved at the policy level?”
Ms. O Hara said that NGOs have indeed more to give than just supplying assistance and that collaboration in form of partnership is a key component to encourage global consultation and debate. Mr. Ndyiane stated that in the West African region NGOs are increasingly working on advocacy.
- “What are the most significant problems facing organisations?”
Speakers said that the lack of funding is generally the main problem. Mr. Piazzi explained that in the past the trend was on bilateralism, today donors prefer long- term impact operations (e.g. the World Bank). Moreover, with the multiplication of NGOs, money is most widespread and less concentrated. Mr. Ndiaye said that the lack of funding is linked with a lack of interest and that what is actually needed is to work on prevention, a good way to save money.
Mr. Ndiaye concluded by saying that field cooperation with UNHCR has proved very efficient and that he was highly satisfied with the ongoing
Ms. O Hara said that “protecting refugees is a shared responsibility and only by working together and by contemplating each others strengths ands expertise can NGOs, states, and international organisations provide the effective protection that refugees deserve”
Presenters' Documents Available
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