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Background information: Humanitarian Aid Coordinating Committee

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The Humanitarian Aid Coordinating Committee is the central forum for discussion and coordination between the German Government, humanitarian non-governmental organisations and other institutions active in the sphere of humanitarian aid. Since its founding in 1994, it has met regularly in the Federal Foreign Office, the German Government’s lead ministry for humanitarian aid and in the premises of other members. It also convenes on an ad hoc basis in order to respond to crises. The Coordinating Committee is a unique body within Europe in that it facilitates close dialogue based on trust between Government and civil society on all humanitarian aid issues.

Principles

The members of the Coordinating Committee provide or promote humanitarian aid, paying due regard to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, impartiality and humanity. In a bid to lend substance to these principles, they agreed on the Twelve Basic Rules of Humanitarian Assistance Abroad. Furthermore they abide by the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid adopted in 2007. They respect the different roles and tasks of the various players involved in international humanitarian aid and advocate effective coordination mechanisms, above all in the United Nations framework.

Aims and tasks

The prime goal of the Coordinating Committee is to optimise the humanitarian aid provided or promoted by its members, paying due regard to the aforementioned principles in order to maximise the benefit to those in need. To this end, it coordinates aid measures in crisis situations and holds a regular dialogue on overarching issues such as quality, coherence, disaster prevention and international coordination. The Committee serves as a forum for debate on key questions concerning humanitarian aid and is an expert body and contact point for the German Government and parliament on these issues. It also has the task of clarifying and coordinating the interfaces between humanitarian aid and disaster relief, military missions and development cooperation.

Working methods

The Coordinating Committee convenes once a quarter for its regular meetings, once a year for a special meeting looking at a particular topic as well as ad hoc for special meetings in the event of major crises. The meetings are chaired by the Federal Foreign Office and the Association of German Development NGOs. The venue for the regular meetings alternates between the Federal Foreign Office and the premises of another member; while special meetings are held in the Federal Foreign Office. The members control the quality of work done by the Committee by playing an active role in its business and seconding duly mandated representatives to attend meetings.

The Coordinating Committee is not a decision-making or steering body. It does not allocate funding. Nor do the members enjoy special status when the German Government is taking such decisions.

Members

The members of the Coordinating Committee are several federal ministries as well as subordinate authorities, academic institutions and relief organisations. New members may join on the basis of the framework directive concluded for precisely that purpose. When particular topics are being dealt with, other organisations can be invited to individual meetings as guests.

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