Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Geneva, Switzerland

Humanitarian Affairs

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Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian aid is assistance in response to humanitarian crises , be it a natural disaster, be it man-made and be it involving armed violence. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering , and maintain human dignity . It may therefore be distinguished from development aid , which seeks to address the underlying socio-economic factors which may have led to a crisis or emergency.

Humanitarian Aid is structured according to principles of humanity, impartiality and independence . There are many actors in the field of Humanitarian Aid. Many of these organisations have their main seat in Geneva - a city dubbed ‘the Humanitarian Capital of the World’.The International Red Cross (ICRC) is based in Geneva, as well as the Int. Federation of the Red Cross and Red Cresent Societies (IFRC). There are specialised organisations like the World Health Organisation, as well as many international non-governemental organisations (I) NGOs, like OXFAM.

Last, but not least, many UN organisations have their offices in Geneva, like UNFPA, UNHCR, UNEP, UNISDR, UNICEF and OCHA. The latter stands for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It plays a central role within the UN system, and more and more outside the UN system, in coordinating humanitarian assistance world wide.

The Netherlands is an active and respected donor in the field of humanitarian aid. Over the last few years the Netherlands ranked 5 th of 6 th on the list of most contributing donors. The Mission strives to enhance the leading and coordinating role of OCHA in organising and delivering principled, needs based, humanitarian aid. As such the Netherlands is also stakeholder in building and improving a more effective UN- and international system for delivering humanitarian aid, with an emphasis on the ongoing processes in humanitarian reforms. There are efforts of reform ongoing concerning financing (CERF, CAP), coordination (the so-called clusterapproach, improved Needs Assessment) and humanitarian leadership (HC strengthening project).

Next to this the Mission has a financial relationship with organisations. As donor to many projects we need to make sure that donated money is spend wisely. Governance is therefore also a topic of interest.

The Mission has bi-lateral relations with the organisations, but is also part of several multilateral forums; like the OCHA donor support group, which aims to function as a sounding board for OCHA, and also provides a platform on which to discuss current topics of interest with OCHA and the other major donors. A simular setup exist for the International Red Cross, which has – due to her different origin, mandate and position – a very spicific position in the world of humanitarian aid.

If you want to know more about (the system for the delivering of) humanitarian aid: