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Coordinating for Effective Humanitarian Action: Lessons from Unified Command Systems

Wed 1 April – 2pm London time

Imagine the context – a large-scale disaster occurs, the international humanitarian community responds. Dozens of actors arrive - different skills, styles, and accountabilities; NGOs, governments – national and local, military actors, civil society. They act differently, think differently, have different ways of working. Sound familiar?

The international humanitarian community has developed a number of coordination mechanisms and systems, formal and informal, to address these challenges. But what can be learned from other sectors? What potential lies in understanding how emergency responders (fire, police, ambulance) approach multi-organisational coordination (often described as ‘Unified Command’)?

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The sharp edge of gratitude

Elysée Nouvet, Research Fellow
McMaster University

It is relatively easy to see and raise a red flag on humanitarian programming where complaints roll in from those on the receiving ends of assistance. However, the dominance of gratitude in humanitarian relations might raise its own red flags.

Elysée Nouvet examines the challenges of feedback gathering where power dynamics are inherently unequal. 

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As the full scale of the destruction of Cyclone Pam is revealed, some of our past lessons papers on responding to cyclones and floods may be useful for those working in the region. 

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Responding to changing needs?
Challenges and opportunities for humanitarian action

This think-piece was commissioned in preparation for the Montreux XIII Donor Conference in November 2014. It provides an overview of the evolving problems the international humanitarian sector is facing and suggests potential collective responses to them.

Now also available are the conveners' conclusions and a graphic summary from the conference.

Download this paper

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