Is it time for the world to appoint an Emergency Relief Czar?

7 Jul

That’s the question asked by this post in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog. The idea stems from criticisms of humanitarian responses to international crises of the past few years.

So what might shake things up? One possibility is to appoint a humanitarian ombudsman who would “name and shame” individuals and organisations as a way of jolting often labyrinthine bureaucratic systems within which it is hard to pinpoint ultimate responsibility.


John Mitchell, director of Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (Alnap), a network of organisations including UN agencies, donors and the Red Cross, said this had been mooted in the 1990s but never explicitly materialised. Mitchell explained that “the idea was to send such a person into a high-profile situation and report in real time so hopefully they would report on a crisis, not ex post facto. They would deal with any concerns in real time”.

 It’s worth thinking about whetehr there is more liability for largescale failure with a focused leadership structure (eg this guy). But, on the face of it the idea looks like a winner. As long as pay is tied to performance.


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