The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative is an informal donor forum and network which facilitates collective advancement of GHD principles and good practices. It recognises that, by working together, donors can more effectively encourage and stimulate principled donor behaviour and, by extension, improved humanitarian action.
Meeting in Stockholm on the 16th &17th of June 2003, a group of 17 donors endorsed the Principles and Good Practice of Good Humanitarian Donorship. These were drawn up to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of donor action, as well as their accountability to beneficiaries, implementing organisations and domestic constituencies, with regard to the funding, co-ordination, follow-up and evaluation of such actions.
There are currently 42 members of the Good Humanitarian Donorship group who contribute through this forum to the pivotal role of donors in providing effective and accountable humanitarian assistance.
The coming together of donors under the banner of the Good Humanitarian Donorship framework has filled a crucial gap in the broad landscape of humanitarian coordination. Bridging this gap has allowed for the development of consensus around a comprehensive agenda for good humanitarian donor policy and practice which, in a few short years, has become near common currency.
The GHD framework, and the associated processes that GHD donors have committed to, has provided a valuable platform for dialogue and an important vehicle for advancing humanitarian policy and practice matters – within the bureaucracies of the GHD donors themselves, and the humanitarian community at large.
It is worth noting that many of the issues which the GHD framework has articulated were not new or of unique concern to donors. However, the establishment of consensus on the 24 principles and good practice tenets of GHD has provided critical momentum to the issues that many donors were pursuing in isolation (domestically and internationally).
The GHD framework, and the processes undertaken individually and collectively by GHD donors, has played a critical role in under-writing the process of humanitarian reform – many of the recent adaptations to the humanitarian system not least with regard to financing mechanisms and cluster based coordination, have been advanced as a result of donor commitments under GHD.
Past Work and Achievements
Since 2003, many of these outcomes have been achieved exclusively as a result of the donor efforts, while others reflect the results of working with and in support of humanitarian partners:
- A common definition of humanitarian assistance for statistical purposes was developed thus allowing more accurate reflection of humanitarian commitments within the OCHA managed Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and in OECD/DAC statistics. There is now better use of, and support for, global financial tracking systems reflecting more trust in the same;
- Significant achievements have been made, in partnership with implementing agencies, on the development and use of harmonised reporting;
- Against the backdrop of the increasing use of cash transfers and their benefits in terms of efficiency and dignity for beneficiaries, GHD has adopted a 24th principle on cash use at its 2018 High Level Meeting;
- While still posing enormous challenges, there have been concrete steps towards advancing the commitment to, knowledge on, and support for frameworks that allow better needs-based allocations of humanitarian assistance;
- Predictable and flexible mechanisms for humanitarian financing are now well established including the CERF and various country level pooled funds, and several GHD donors have similarly adapted their mechanisms for financing NGO and Red Cross partners to reflect their GHD commitments;
- There is now better articulation of humanitarian objectives and policy amongst donors individually and collectively (as per the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid which is clearly aligned with GHD);
- There is now greater recognition of the role that effective partnerships play in humanitarian response and the GHD framework has provided an important boost to the unique leadership and coordination role played by the UN in humanitarian response;
- The GHD framework has provided a useful framework for assessing donor performance through the annual Global Humanitarian Assistance reports and via the GHD aligned Humanitarian Assistance Framework within the OECD/DAC’s Peer Review;
- For system-wide policy issues, GHD has become the main interlocutor for the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC);
- GHD has served as an important basis upon which donors have shared learning and developed norms for good practice through joint evaluations, commissioned studies, training, and dialogue.
Perhaps the single most telling indicator of the value of GHD has been the increasing numbers of donors willing to adhere to the framework; at its inception in 2003, 16 countries and the EC endorsed GHD, since then membership has risen to 42.
However, progress has not been even, and much work remains to be done on issues such as strengthening national capacities for response, linking relief and development, adherence to humanitarian principles, and more regular joint evaluations.