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The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is a unique inter-agency forum for coordination, policy development and decision-making involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners. The IASC was established in June 1992 in response to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182 on the strengthening of humanitarian assistance. General Assembly Resolution 48/57 affirmed its role as the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance.

Under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the IASC develops humanitarian policies, agrees on a clear division of responsibility for the various aspects of humanitarian assistance, identifies and addresses gaps in response, and advocates for effective application of humanitarian principles.

»  IASC Presentation»

»  2-pager about the IASC»

» Primary Objectives

The overall objective of the IASC is to improve delivery of humanitarian assistance, including the protection of the rights of affected people. The primary objectives of the IASC in complex and major emergencies are as follows:
  • to develop and agree on system-wide humanitarian policies;

  • to allocate responsibilities amongst agencies in humanitarian programmes;

  • to develop and agree on a common ethical framework for all humanitarian activities;

  • to advocate common humanitarian principles to parties outside the IASC;

  • to advocate for the full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law);

  • to identify and address areas where gaps in mandates or lack of operational capacity exist; and

  • to resolve disputes or disagreements about and amongst humanitarian agencies on system-wide humanitarian issues.

» Key Principles

In so doing, six key principles will be observed:
  • Respect for Mandates: that decisions of the IASC will not compromise organizations with respect to their own mandates

  • Ownership: that all organizations have an equal ownership of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies

  • Overall Objective: that the ultimate objective is to support effective humanitarian action

  • Relevance to field operations: that members recognise the criticality of ensuring relevance to field operations and of input by field operations

  • Subsidiarity: that decisions will be taken at the most appropriate level as agreed by IASC Principals

  • Impartiality of the Secretariat: that the IASC will be serviced by a Secretariat that does not represent the interests of any one organization.

» Membership

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) was established in June 1992 in response to General Assembly Resolution 46/182 to serve as the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination relating to humanitarian assistance in response to complex and major emergencies under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

According to General Assembly Resolution 46/182, the IASC should be composed of "all operational organizations and with a standing invitation to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Organization for Migration. Relevant non-governmental organizations can be invited to participate on an ad hoc basis." 

The members of the IASC are the heads or their designated representatives of the UN operational agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, FAO, WHO, UN-HABITAT, OCHA). In addition, there is a standing invitation to IOM, ICRC , IFRC1, OHCHR, UNFPA, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs and the World Bank. The NGO consortia ICVA, InterAction and SCHR are also invited on a permanent basis to attend. The IASC is chaired by the ERC.

In practice, no distinction is made between "Members" and "Standing Invitees" and the number of participating agencies has expanded since inception of the IASC in 1992.

In fact, the strength and added value of the IASC lies in its broad membership, bringing together all key humanitarian actors.

With regard to IASC membership, "operational" is defined as having the following characteristics:

  • Provision of humanitarian assistance: protection or material aid

  • Deployment of staff to assist affected populations with immediate needs

The IASC's overall objective is inclusive coordination, while maintaining a relatively limited number of "members" to ensure functionality and focus.

Membership is subject to a continuous review, and new members are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Organisations aspiring to become members are encouraged to contribute to the work of Subsidiary Bodies in their area of specialization. Thereby, they can demonstrate their real commitment and potential contribution to the IASC.

» Priorities 2014-2015

IASC Priorities
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