This column hoped the
end of the war would result in mainstream discussions
moving onto what comes next. It has not quite gone that
far yet. This column is privy to and is involved in many
a struggle to recover. One aspect of which is the use of
Principles of Partnership
A key component for recovery is
the assistance we receive. To ensure the terms are fair
the UN in 2007 organised a meeting called the Global
Humanitarian Platform Meeting in Geneva. A paper was
presented by Antonio Donini, Senior Researcher,
Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, titled
‘Making Our Principles Work In The Real World.’ It says,
"the official humanitarian enterprise remains a select
club in which the rules are set by a rather peculiar set
of players who are generally far-removed from the
realities of the people they purport to help. Like it or
not, humanitarian action is part of global governance,
if not of global government (Kennedy, 2004).
"Even when it is not
instrumentalised for political purposes, humanitarianism
remains a dominant discourse. It lives in parallel with,
and is sometimes subordinated to, processes of economic
governance, political containment strategies, and
military action that are functional to the interests of
the global north."
The Consortium of Humanitarian
Agencies (CHA) and this columnist have been punished on
several occasions for attempting to:
• ask that we be counted in
• to allow us after 26 years
to control our destiny
• to ask we manage our
• to use our brains and skills
to be smarter in what we do
• to use designs and material
• to ask we not be exploited.
• to listen to us and not come
with preconceived notions.
• to understand we care and
that we take responsibility.
A colleague, Harsha Navaratne
fired on all cylinders recently on this theme. This
column stands by his assertions. What is most galling is
to be told that experiences acquired over 25 years
cannot be applied. That we must stay in compartments
defined by someone else controlling the purse strings.
To deny ones right to develop
and thereby disempower is one of the worst forms of
colonisation. Regrettably many of us do not work in
government. If we had any say, the rectification
suggested would be decisive. It however does not
preclude us from showing what it rotten amongst us.
Sir John Holmes did his utmost
to ensure the anomalies referred in the quoted passage
earlier were addressed and the meeting adopted what was
called the, Principles of Partnership - A Statement of
Commitment, Endorsed by the Global Humanitarian
Platform, July 12, 2007.
The Global Humanitarian
Platform, created in July 2006, brings together UN and
non-UN humanitarian organisations on an equal footing.
Striving to enhance the
effectiveness of humanitarian action, based on an
ethical obligation and accountability to the populations
Acknowledging diversity as an
asset of the humanitarian community and recognising the
interdependence among humanitarian organisations.
Committed to building and
nurturing an effective partnership.
The organisations participating
in the Global Humanitarian Platform agree to base their
partnership on the following principles:
Equality requires mutual respect
between members of the partnership irrespective of size
and power. The participants must respect each other’s
mandates, obligations and independence and recognise
each other’s constraints and commitments. Mutual respect
must not preclude organisations from engaging in
Transparency is achieved through
dialogue (on equal footing), with an emphasis on early
consultations and early sharing of information.
Communications and transparency, including financial
transparency, increase the level of trust among
• Result-oriented approach
Effective humanitarian action
must be reality-based and action-oriented. This requires
result-oriented coordination based on effective
capabilities and concrete operational capacities.
Humanitarian organisations have
an ethical obligation to each other to accomplish their
tasks responsibly, with integrity and in a relevant and
appropriate way. They must make sure they commit to
activities only when they have the means, competencies,
skills, and capacity to deliver on their commitments.
Decisive and robust prevention of abuses committed by
humanitarians must also be a constant effort.
The diversity of the
humanitarian community is an asset if we build on our
comparative advantages and complement each other’s
contributions. Local capacity is one of the main assets
to enhance and on which to build. Whenever possible,
humanitarian organisations should strive to make it an
integral part in emergency response. Language and
cultural barriers must be overcome.
Which brings this column to
another dimension. That is to ask who will stand to lose
if wars end.
There are many who gained, who
fuel, who lose if the old status quo ends. This
columnist included was foolish as not to factor this
angle last week. It though has begun to transpire that
efforts are indeed underfoot to attempt the regrouping
of actors who cause significant damage once more. This
is a natural phenomenon seen the world over.
Wars breed and at times are
driven by interest groups. Ours was no different. It
would be a terrible tragedy if follies of old were to
allow dissent to fester, legitimate claims to go
unanswered, justice to be denied, grossly unfair
practices to govern our recovery and principles
compromised or worst to be ignored. The path to making a
difference is partially in our hands, while the rest is
offshore. The 180 day countdown will partially bring out
the winners and losers in the contest for principles and
A private donor has enabled the
construction of 30 sets , each close on 45kg in weight
of Hindu idols and the provision with a few others for
15 Christian places of worship to be located in the
zones for IDPs.
To quote a Christian message, we
hope that the gestures above will, hold true when one
says, ‘Stars do not struggle to shine; rivers do not
struggle to flow, and you will never struggle to excel
in life, because you deserve the best. Hold on to your
dreams and it shall be well with you... Amen.’
‘The eyes beholding this message
shall not behold evil, the hand that will send this
message to others shall not labour in vain, the mouth
saying Amen to this prayer shall laugh forever, and
remain in God’s love.’