Principles of Partnership: A Statement of Commitment

Background and rationale

The Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) adopted Principles of Partnership (PoP) in 2007.  The GHP was originally set up 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 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:

  1. 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.

  2. Report in annual reports on how you are putting the PoP into practice. 

  3. Ensure the PoP are part of the terms of reference/modus operandi of all coordination meetings/clusters.

  4. In developing project proposals, refer to how the PoP will be used in the project’s implementation. 


  5. In job postings, refer to the PoP and ask about candidates’ views on partnership. 


  6. Ensure that partnership skills are an essential qualification considered when recruiting and appraising staff. 


  7. Use the PoP to advocate for improved performance from those in other humanitarian agencies and from the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). 


  8. 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. 


  9. When talking to governments and local authorities, ensure that they know you will apply the PoP in your work. 


  10. 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 Principles of Partnership

Following the endorsement of the PoP in 2007, they were then tested in three country contexts: Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and El Salvador (as part of the Panama regional hub). (Letter to the three countries). Since then, organisations have been reporting on their use and providing general feedback on the PoP. This feedback also fed into 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.In order to help ensure that there is a common understanding of the concept of partnership, Principles of Partnership were endorsed at the July 2007 Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) meeting, and were then tested in three country contexts: Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and El Salvador (as part of the Panama regional hub). (Letter to the three countries). Since then, organisations have been reporting on their use and providing general feedback on the PoP. This feedback also fed into 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.

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