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Nurturing humanitarian coordination leadership

Despite incredible technological progress and strengthened social and economic development in many countries, humanitarian needs have continued to grow. While humanitarians welcome the on-going reform of the UN Development system, including the reinvigorated RC system, as a unique opportunity to more effectively diminish needs, risks and vulnerabilities, in many operations, targeted humanitarian assistance remains necessary alongside long term development support. In this context, effective humanitarian coordination leadership continues to be essential at country level, and the Inter Agency Standing Committee needs to continue its efforts in strengthening it.

Ten years ago, the IASC set up a unique consensus-based tool, the Humanitarian Coordination Pool (HC Pool), to pre-identify talented humanitarian leaders to mainstream in key collective coordination positions, including in the most complex humanitarian responses. Being in the HC Pool means that its 143 members are considered ‘fit’ by key humanitarian stakeholders for leadership roles with important humanitarian coordination aspects.

The HC Pool is currently composed of 143 members with one third already serving in Humanitarian Coordinators’ roles. Still there is a need to increase the diversity of its composition, especially with respect to gender, geography, and agency of origin. More data and graphics are provided in the Annex I.

The IASC pipeline for humanitarian coordination leadership positions

Over the last decade, the HC Pool has already moved from being a roster of potential candidates for Humanitarian Coordinators’ positions to a career development programme. Recent consultations with IASC partners have highlighted the need for a two-window approach in the talent identification to take into account the strengthened role of the RC function as well as the need for a more diverse and well-rounded leaders.

The discussions have focused on two particular groups with two particular needs:

  • Talented leaders that need to be ‘fit’ to serve in complex collective leadership roles with humanitarian coordination functions;
  • Future leaders who wants to move into coordination leadership roles across development and humanitarian settings and need support to get ready to step in these roles.

Therefore, it is proposed that the HC pool becomes a process that helps in the identification of candidates with the following characteristics:

HC Pool members

Senior Leaders already exposed to coordination leadership roles throughout their experience and with the following characteristics:

  • Truly interested and committed in serving in countries with humanitarian needs within the next 1-3 years;
  • Principled, courageous, and resilient leader willing to effectively give a voice to the most vulnerable and advocate for human rights issues;
  • Collaborative leader who takes pride from facilitating the work of others;
  • Passed the Resident Coordinator Assessment Center (RCAC);
  • Serving or having served in high-level coordination leadership roles, ideally as Resident Coordinators or in Regional or Deputy Humanitarian Coordinators’ roles;
  • Experience in successfully negotiating issues in politically sensitive situations.
  • Served in humanitarian coordination and/or humanitarian operations (at least three years).

High-Potential HC Pool members

Leaders who are interested in moving to systemic collective positions and/or to get inter-agency experience and with the following characteristics:

  • Committed to take up high-level coordination leadership functions, including RC positions within the next 1-3 years;
  • Principled, courageous, and resilient leader willing to give a voice to the most vulnerable and advocate for human rights issues;
  • Collaborative leader who takes pride from facilitating the work of others;
  • Experience in successfully negotiating issues in politically sensitive situations;
  • Leaders (Senior P4 or junior P5 level and on exceptional basis as Directors);
  • Already served or currently serving in a representative role within own organization;
  • Have not yet undertaken the RCAC but they are considering it in the next two years.