(Originally Broadcast on March 22, 2012)

Humanitarian organizations face an inevitable tension that arises from two separate accountability structures. One framework, established by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, holds organizations accountable to host states and donor states. A second framework, the human rights based approach, calls for accountability to individuals affected by hostilities. These two accountability structures create a multiplicity of obligations for humanitarian operators, who must simultaneously respond to the expectations of host state authorities, maintain accountability to donors, and respond to the needs of beneficiaries.

Additionally, efforts to professionalize humanitarian action have led to a new set of accountability measures to ensure the implementation of particular professional standards — from assessing humanitarian needs to implementing and evaluating humanitarian programs. This standardization process builds on a professional accountability structure by which humanitarian organizations are held accountable to peers, as well as certification processes, such as the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP). These rising expectations of professionalism put further pressures on humanitarian actors.

This Humanitarian Assistance Webcast will examine the effect of these issues on the humanitarian aid community. In particular, it will address these questions:

(1) How relevant is the traditional framework of accountability to host states and high contracting parties?
(2) How is accountability to beneficiaries expected to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance?
(3) How does such an accountability coincide with accountability to the host state?
(4) If the expectations of beneficiaries differ than those of the host state, how can humanitarian organizations manage such a tension?
(5) Ultimately, how can it be expected that humanitarian organizations will become more professional and standardized in such divergent and complex accountability environment?

Moderated by: Claude Bruderlein (Director, HPCR) and Christina Blunt (ATHA Project Coordinator)

Panelists include:
Andy Featherstone (Humanitarian Consultant)
Brian Kelly (Emergency and Post Crisis Advisor, Asia and Pacific, IOM)
Maria Kiani (Senior Quality and Accountability Advisor, HAP International)

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