Protection Cluster - oPt
About the oPt Protection Cluster
The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is a protracted protection crisis with serious humanitarian consequences. The situation is driven and exacerbated by the lack of accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and a culture of impunity that fosters further violations. The prolonged nature of the occupation and the ongoing armed conflict adversely impacts the equal enjoyment of a wide range of human rights by Palestinian women, men, girls, and boys.
The Protection Cluster is part of the Humanitarian Coordination Structure in oPt and is accountable to the UN DSRSG/Humanitarian Coordinator. The cluster was set up in January 2009 under the leadership of OHCHR, to coordinate the protection activities of international and national humanitarian and human rights actors, and advocate human rights and international law in humanitarian action.
The Protection Cluster is the largest cluster in the oPt, with the broadest scope of the engagement, including human rights, displacement, settlers’ violence, legal support, child protection, gender-based violence, psychosocial support, protective presence, mine action, and human rights defenders.
Structure of the cluster
The Protection Cluster (PC) is a broad-based, participatory forum, comprising on an equal basis United Nations humanitarian, human rights and development agencies and actors, as well as local and international non-governmental organisations in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The PC is part of the humanitarian effort in the oPt and accountable to the UN DSRSG/Humanitarian Coordinator. It is the main inter-agency forum in the oPt for the collaboration and overall coordination of activities supporting protection in humanitarian action.
Four sub-working groups or Areas of Responsibility (AORs) feed into the PC: Child Protection and Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS), Gender-based Violence (GBV), Legal Aid and Mine Action. These AORs meet regularly to keep members connected and updated and to address critical and emerging issues.
Members of the PC meet periodically (bi-monthly in general) to provide updates and as necessary to discuss trends and coordinate action on critical issues. Members may call extraordinary meetings - upon consultation with cluster leads - especially when urgent action is needed. Meetings usually take place in Ramallah and Gaza city.
A Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) supports the Protection Cluster Coordinator to develop and implement the strategic framework, priorities, and work plan for the cluster. The SAG may also provide guidance on protection trends and emerging issues and recommendations on cluster response.
The role of the cluster lead
OHCHR is the lead agency of the oPt PC and works in accordance with the IASC Generic Terms of Reference of Cluster Leads at Country Level. Each sub-working group or AOR is led by the following agencies: Child Protection and MHPSS is led by UNICEF; GBV by UNFPA, Legal Aid by NRC and Mine Action by UNMAS.
OHCHR endeavours to enhance the coordination of information sharing among partners at the country and international level. It coordinates interagency efforts including developing a common strategy, a rights-based analysis of protection needs. It provides consolidated inputs into the Humanitarian Needs Overview and the Humanitarian Response Plan, develops contingency plans, guidelines and information notes, and other documents agreed by the members of the cluster. It also ensures linkages with, and the mainstreaming of, protection standards by other clusters/sectors in the oPt and consultation and information exchange with the global clusters/sectors.
Scope of work/ types of activities covered by the cluster
The programmatic interventions of the clusters’ partners in 2020 aim to foster increased respect for IHL and IHRL and accountability for violations while ensuring that vulnerable Palestinians have access to protection (and other multi-sectoral) services that prevent and mitigate the effects of the occupation and conflict-related violence.
The Protection Cluster will achieve this aim by monitoring and documenting violations, particularly to increase accountability and inform advocacy to prevent further violations; rights-based advocacy with duty bearers, including third states; a protection presence for communities at risk of settler violence and displacement; legal aid services; inclusive multi-sectoral responses to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, including economic enablement; child protection services including individual case management; mental health and psychosocial services (MHPSS) for adults and youth; and explosive remnants of war (ERW) risk mitigation and education responses.