|Meeting the Humanitarian Challenge - UNV's Work Between Conflict and Development (United Nations Volunteers, 44 p.)|
|Current concerns and future perspectives|
The prevention/mitigation of complex emergencies entails the development of social/political early warning systems -country-based collection and analysis of information on emerging threats to social/national stability, along the lines of the Secretary-General's "Agenda for Peace". UNV, through human rights monitoring, as currently with UNHCR in Bosnia-Hercegovina or the UN Centre for Human Rights in Rwanda, can usefully promote a new understanding, definition, and structures for recognition and protection of minority rights. The efforts currently under way in Somalia, Rwanda, Central America, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina may herald some lessons for consideration, when analysed in due course. Other programme development work is focusing on UNV responses to needs for various kinds of logistic, food distribution, information management and other technical roles to address the effects of protracted complex emergencies.
UNV specialists and field workers may also help to:
• Identify and implement risk-reduction measures for humanitarian relief in hazardous zones
• Promote effective containment, settlement, and resolution of minor, local disputes impeding humanitarian efforts, through training of local relief committees and community leaders in community participation and conflict resolution techniques
• Promote democracy at the level of local communities, and provide impartial observation and verification
• Act as focal points for facilitating local integrated inter-agency and cross-mandate approaches to relief/rehabilitation efforts, whilst promoting direct local initiative and leadership in advancing the agenda toward longer-term sustainable recovery
• Initiate institutional recovery and strengthening of local capacities for project identification and implementation
The expansion of UNV support to humanitarian assistance has been phenomenal in the last three years: the total number of serving UNV specialists in this area is around 300, with funds now available for another 320 additional assignments. However over another 400 assignments are still on the drawing board, lacking funds. The full portfolio, including unfunded pipeline, now exceeds a potential 1,200 assignments. The number of humanitarian projects assisted has doubled in the last 12 months alone, with over 100 humanitarian projects being implemented at present and receiving the support of UNV specialists, and a further 40 in the pipeline.
It is perhaps the moment to recall the plight of the intended beneficiaries of such humanitarian activities: spread over 36 countries, the total population affected by UN system humanitarian programmes which avail of the dedication and services of UNV specialists is, estimated to exceed 45 million people.
UNV is working to translate its strategic approach into practice and weave its various themes (humanitarian assistance, community-focused initiatives, democratisation support, and technical co-operation) together into a fabric of support for more sustainable efforts that advance local agendas away from relief and dependency towards recovery, self-reliance: in short, lasting, people-centred development.