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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs /OCHA/


In December 1991, the General Assembly adopted  Resolution 46/182, designed to strengthen the United Nation's response to both complex emergencies and natural disasters.  In addition it aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of the UN's humanitarian operations in the field.

The resolution also created the high level position of Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC).  This new function would combine into a single UN focal point the functions carried out by representatives of the Secretary-General for major and complex emergencies, as well as the UN's natural disaster functions carried out by the UN Disaster Relief Coordinator, UNDRO.

Soon after, the Secretary-General established the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) and assigned the ERC the status of Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs with offices in New York and Geneva to provide institutional support.Resolution 46/182 also created the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) as key coordination mechanisms and tools of the ERC.

As part of the Secretary-General's programme of reform in 1998, DHA was reorganized into the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. Its mandate was expanded to include the coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and humanitarian advocacy.

OCHA carries out its coordination function primarily through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which is chaired by the ERC. Participants include all humanitarian partners, from UN agencies, funds and programmes to the Red Cross Movement and NGOs. The IASC ensures inter-agency decision-making in response to complex emergencies.  These responses include needs assessments, consolidated appeals, field coordination arrangements and the development of humanitarian policies.

Further details can be found on the OCHA web site