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Norwegian statement on cooperation

Last updated: 27.09.2013 // Statement held during UNHCR's 58th Standing Committee meeting.

Norway would like to thank UNHCR for the paper on coordination and partnership.

It gives a clear overview of UNHCRs role and mandate in relation to other actors, in particular other agencies and NGOs. Understadning how UNHCR sees partnership and coordination in different contexts, this is very useful. The understandings and MOUs that are developed in different contexts are important to ensure a principled humanitarian response.  NGOs are implementing ever increasing share of the UNHCRs programmes, the structured partnerships and dialogues with the NGOs are crucial.

We commend the efforts made by UNHCR in the TA in particular as cluster lead and as part of the group that developed the TA protocols and implementation plan. The aim is a better response through coordination, information sharing and cooperation.

Further emphasis on the principles underpinning the TA would in our view strengthen UNHCRs response; leadership, accountability and coordination are key as the paper points out.

The real-time evaluation of the Syria refugee response, which we commend the UNHCR for undertaking, has pointed to some clear gaps and weaknesses in the field. It is an opportunity to adjust course and redress some of what has been pointed out, and we appreciate that this work has started. There are lessons to be learned that should shape the approach to partnership and coordination for the future.  The evaluation is a useful basis for a dialogue with other UN agencies and the implementing partners among the NGOs with the aim of improving the overall response.

Complementary response and coordination structures works well as long as there is respect and understanding for different roles and mandate. Again, it is at the field level where the gaps and potential conflicts arise, it is in the field that a working relationship must be established.

We would suggest that a basic framework with practical steps for how this should be sorted in the field according to the local context could be developed.  A common understanding and proper guidance to the field on how to establish a good division of labour and responsibility according to the local needs would be useful. We encourage OCHA and UNHCR to work together as equals with the lessons from the Syria crisis, and further develop the principled humanitarian response to the crisis in a highly politicised context.  

We would encourage the RC/HC and the refugee coordinator to contribute to all actors in the field understanding the relationship and responsibilities even when it is not clear-cut. The implementing partners are at times part of both the refugee response and the humanitarian response, getting their input is crucial.

We think it is important that UNHCR has independent access to the government, to the donors and others as complimentary to the RC/HC in situations where there is a humanitarian response, including IDP-response, coordinated by OCHA and a refugee response coordinated by UNHCR. We support the efforts for closer alignment; if the coordinators could act as a team it would be even better.

Given OCHAs specific competence in the field of coordination and information management, and UNHCRs specific coordination, protection and response capabilities, we would ask both agencies to support the other in the field while respecting the other’s leadership role. OCHA could support the refugee coordinator in his/her coordinating capacity when the needs are such that running the operation is so complex that the coordination and information management suffers. We think OCHA should be a resource and support the whole system with its particular competence in coordination and information management. This should also mean facilitating for UNHCRs leadership.

Thank you.

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