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The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is a unique inter-agency forum for coordination, policy development and decision-making involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners. The IASC was established in June 1992 in response to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182 on the strengthening of humanitarian assistance. General Assembly Resolution 48/57 affirmed its role as the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance.
Under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the IASC develops humanitarian policies, agrees on a clear division of responsibility for the various aspects of humanitarian assistance, identifies and addresses gaps in response, and advocates for effective application of humanitarian principles. Together with Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), the IASC forms the key strategic coordination mechanism among major humanitarian actors.
To develop and agree on system-wide humanitarian policies
To allocate responsibilities among agencies in humanitarian programmes
To develop and agree on a common ethical framework for all humanitarian activities
To advocate for common humanitarian principles to parties outside the IASC
To identify areas where gaps in mandates or lack of operational capacity exist
To resolve disputes or disagreement about and between humanitarian agencies on system-wide humanitarian issues.
Overall Objective: The ultimate objective of any decision should be that of improved delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.
Respect for Mandates: The decisions of the IASC will not compromise members with respect to their own mandates.
Ownership: All members have an equal ownership of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies.
Subsidiarity: Decisions will be taken at the lowest appropriate level.
Impartiality of the Secretariat: The IASC is serviced by a Secretariat, which does not represent the interests of any member.
According to General Assembly Resolution 46/182, the IASC should be composed of "all operational organizations and with a standing invitation to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Organization for Migration. Relevant non-governmental organizations can be invited to participate on an ad hoc basis."
In practice, no distinction is made between "Members" and "Standing Invitees" and the number of participating agencies has expanded since inception of the IASC in 1992.
In fact, the strength and added value of the IASC lies in its broad membership, bringing together all key humanitarian actors.
With regard to IASC membership, "operational" is defined as having the following characteristics:
Provision of humanitarian assistance: political protection or material aid
Deployment of staff to assist affected populations with immediate needs
The IASC's overall objective is inclusive coordination, while maintaining a relatively limited number of "members" to ensure functionality and focus.
Membership is subject to a continuous review, and new members are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Organisations aspiring to become members are encouraged to contribute to the work of Subsidiary Bodies in their area of specialization. Thereby, they can demonstrate their real commitment and potential contribution to the IASC.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT)
United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
World Food Programme (WFP)
World Health Organization (WHO)