Humanitarian Partnerships

In line with the 2015 – 2018 Strategy, ICVA’s efforts in promoting strengthened humanitarian partnerships are focused on three key areas:

Please see below for further information on each key focus area: 


1. Influencing policy on partnership

Principles of Partnership (PoP)

In 2007, the Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) introduced the Principles of Partnership (Equality, Transparency, Results-Oriented Approach, Responsibility and Complementarity). The PoP serves as a framework of guiding principles for humanitarian agencies to factor into their operations.

ICVA has been working with its members, partners and the wider humanitarian community to maintain a focus on the PoP in the lead up to and beyond the World Humanitarian Summit

ICVA’s 2015 Annual Conference specifically focused on the PoP, reflecting on the application of the PoP, the state of relationships within the humanitarian sector, and identified actions for improved partnerships.

Please click here to access further information on the Principles of Partnership.


World Humanitarian Summit 

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), to be held on 26-27 May 2016, aims to set a forward-looking agenda for humanitarian action to collectively address future humanitarian challenges.  As an NGO community, the WHS represents a unique opportunity to discuss issues of accountability, power differentials and ethics, and an opportunity to develop common statements and position papers. Whilst maintaining an accurate picture of diversity is essential, the more collective the NGO voices are, the more powerful they will be.

Four broad themes are being discussed in the consultations leading up to, and during the WHS:

  • Humanitarian effectiveness
  • Reducing vulnerability and managing risk
  • Transformation through innovation
  • Serving the needs of people in conflict

ICVA has been engaging in WHS processes through various avenues, including:

  • Promoting national NGO participation in WHS regional consultations, and promoting dialogue with affected populations in WHS proceedings.
  • Collecting and disseminating NGO members’ WHS position papers.
  • Actively engaging and being represented in various regional steering committee.
  • Participated in regular dialogue with other NGO networks, including InterAction, VOICE and the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR).

Please click here to access WHS related content on ICVA’s site.



2. Supporting strong NGO partnerships


Encouraging better UN and NGO partnerships

UNICEF Programme Cooperative Agreement

In the first half of 2015, UNICEF is updating its approach to implementing projects through civil society organizations (CSOs). NGOs provided feedback on the new Programme Cooperative Agreement (PCA) template and related guidance, to be rolled out from April 2015 onwards. Supporting NGOs in this initiative, ICVA and UNICEF are working in partnership to hold face to face trainings in Geneva and in regional hubs to provide an opportunity for NGO partners to be briefed on the detailed of the PCA.


Comparison review: UN Project Partnership Agreements for NGO implementation of humanitarian projects

Building on a key role as conduit between the UN and NGOs, in late 2014 ICVA commissioned a review to compare various UN project partnership agreements for NGO implementation of humanitarian projects. The goal was two-fold: 1) to improve NGO understanding of different UN agencies’ approaches regarding reporting requirements, overhead support cost, partner personnel costs, etc., and 2) to identify best practices to inform future consultations with UN agencies when they update their agreement templates. Please click here to access the report and key findings.


NNGO and INGO partnerships

In addition to strengthening engagement with NGOs and the UN, ICVA serves to provide a platform of dialogue between INGOs and NNGOs. This takes shape in the form of facilitating workshops in Asia, MENA and West Africa strengthen communication, understanding and partnership between INGO and NNGOs.


3. Promoting learning and dialogue on humanitarian principles


Quality and Accountability

The goal of humanitarian accountability is to ensure that all humanitarian work is planned and implemented in a way that respects the views, capacities and disposition of disaster survivors. People affected by conflict or natural disasters have acute needs due to trauma, displacement and disruption of social and economic systems.

During the last 20 years humanitarian organisations have developed a variety of standards and accountability mechanisms to ensure high quality humanitarian assistance. Standards are core to quality and accountability mechanisms, however the use of standards in the humanitarian sector is broad.

Individual agencies and families have their own manuals, policies and guidelines regarding a wide range of their work in humanitarian crises. Inter-agency initiatives with subsequent codes include:

  • Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief
  • The Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) International.
  • People In Aid.
  • The SPHERE Project

In April 2011, the IASC Principals confirmed the fundamental importance of Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), which became one pillar of the Transformative Agenda. This pillar provides guidance on how to improve participation, information provision and handling of feedback and complaints from affected people. ICVA and its members remain engaged in the continuous improvement of quality and accountability in all areas of humanitarian action.


Applying quality and accountability in humanitarian action

ICVA’s regional hubs periodically bring together humanitarian practitioners to critically analyze collective practice around the quality of services and accountability to affected populations.

In 2014, ICVA’s MENA and West Africa hubs hosted a number of workshops quality and accountability (Q&A). These workshops discussed concepts of accountability, quality management and sharing the challenges organisations face as these tools are integrated into their programme cycle.

ICVA’s West Africa hub also brought together affected populations to highlight barriers encountered by affected populations with regard to complaints mechanisms. Issues related to the power imbalance between aid providers and beneficiaries were also raised. Participants at this meeting stressed the need for affected populations’ representatives to be present at WHS consultations. As a result, four refugees were invited to the WHS consultation in Abidjan to add their voices.

In June 2015  the IASC task team on AAP and PSEA held a three days workshop in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The workshop, organised with the support of UNICEF and NRC, aimed at operationalising AAP and PSEA through all the phases of the Rapid Response to Movements of Populations (RRMP) programme, the single provider of mulit-sectorial aid in DRC. For more information see the report  (Executive summary in English, report in French).

Please visit the ICVA Regional Hub pages for further information.


The role of networks in improving quality and accountability

In the later half of 2014, ICVA commissioned a review into AAP through network learning to capture the global perspective on practice surrounding AAP. The report highlighted the increasing importance of networks, emerging as important vehicles for learning about and improving Accountability to Affected Populations. The study serves as a comprehensive and accessible tool for guiding NGO engagement in AAP through networks. Click here to access the report.


Humanitarian principles 

ICVA’s mission is to make humanitarian response more principled and effective. Humanitarian principles are therefore, fundamental to ICVA’s work with NGOs and other humanitarian stakeholders. 

The core humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and operational independence provide the foundations for humanitarian action. With an increasing diversity of new actors in the humanitarian sector, ICVA and its members continue to play a key role in raising awareness of the importance of these principles.

Building on a strong partnership and foundation, ICVA and the ICRC came together with a diversity of stakeholders in workshops to discuss the application of humanitarian principles and the RCRC NGO Code of Conduct. Dialogue focused on closing the gap between the theory and practice of how essential concepts and tools are used.

In 2014, a total of three workshops were held – in Amman, Indonesia and Senegal. Discussions highlighted:

  • The relevance and application of Humanitarian Principles and the Code of Conduct in the changing humanitarian context and their potential use as an advocacy tool; and
  • Tensions between theory and practice and the potential dilemmas and possible ways forward in utilising the principles.
  • The similarities between faith-based charters, codes of conduct and humanitarian principles.