The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is a unique inter-agency forum for coordination, policy development and decision-making involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners. The IASC was established in June 1992 in response to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182 on the strengthening of humanitarian assistance. General Assembly Resolution 48/57 affirmed its role as the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance.
Under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the IASC develops humanitarian policies, agrees on a clear division of responsibility for the various aspects of humanitarian assistance, identifies and addresses gaps in response, and advocates for effective application of humanitarian principles.
The overall objective of the IASC is to improve delivery of humanitarian assistance, including the protection of the rights of affected people. The primary objectives of the IASC in complex and major emergencies are as follows:
- to develop and agree on system-wide humanitarian policies;
- to allocate responsibilities amongst agencies in humanitarian programmes;
- to develop and agree on a common ethical framework for all humanitarian activities;
- to advocate common humanitarian principles to parties outside the IASC;
- to advocate for the full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law);
- to identify and address areas where gaps in mandates or lack of operational capacity exist;
- and to resolve disputes or disagreements about and amongst humanitarian agencies on system-wide humanitarian issues.
In so doing, the following key principles will be observed:
- Respect for Mandates: that decisions of the IASC will not compromise organizations with respect to their own mandates
- Ownership: that all organizations have an equal ownership of the Committee and its subsidiary bodies
- Overall Objective: that the ultimate objective is to support effective humanitarian action Relevance to field operations: that members recognise the criticality of ensuring relevance to field operations and of input by field operations
- Subsidiarity: that decisions will be taken at the most appropriate level as agreed by IASC Principals
- Impartiality of the Secretariat: that the IASC will be serviced by a Secretariat that does not represent the interests of any one organization.