International Organizations: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

History:  On December 1991, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 46/182 which focused toward strengthening the United Nation’s response to both complex emergencies, natural disasters and improving the UN’s effectiveness of humanitarian operations in the field.  Resolution 46/182 constructed the base for the Department of Humanitarian Affairs which was established in 1992, then renamed to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in 1997.  The resolution acknowledged the description of an important position held within the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) named the Under-Secretaries-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC).

What they do:  The core functions of OCHA are supported by 1,140 staff members in New York, Geneva and in the field.  OCHA’s main course of action centers around the ERC.  The ERC creates policies and coordinates functions ensuring all humanitarian issues are addressed; advocates for humanitarian issues; and coordinates humanitarian emergency response by ensuring that an appropriate response mechanism is established through Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) consultations, on the ground.  OCHA carries out its coordination function primarily through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which is also chaired by the ERC.

Mission:  The mission of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is to collaborate with national and international actors by mobilizing and coordinating effective and principled humanitarian action in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies, advocate for the rights of people in need, promote preparedness and prevention, and facilitate sustainable solutions.
How they are funded:  In 2006, OCHA’s budget is $128,445,299.  Ten percent of this dollar amount or $12,795,992 is allocated from the regular UN budget and the remainder (more than $115 million, including projects and field activities) from extra-budgetary resources donated by Member States and donor organizations.

Locations:  Headquarters/Liaison offices for OCHA are located in New York, Geneva, and Brussels.  OCHA currently maintains field coordination arrangements in 16 countries and one region: Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Great Lakes, Republic of the Congo, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Tajikistan.

University of Hawaii at Manoa; Center of Excellence in DMHA; ICRC

Contact Information

Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2424 Maile Way, Saunders Hall 118
Honolulu, HI 96822