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Reintegration: A Progress Report

Executive Committee Meetings

Reintegration: A Progress Report

31 January 2000

Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme
Standing Committee
17th meeting
31 January 2000


1. The results of a series of informal consultations on the subject of reintegration were presented to the Standing Committee at its thirteenth meeting in September 1998 (EC/48/SC/CRP.42). They included the proposal to keep UNHCR's involvement in the area of reintegration under regular review, taking account of initiatives by other actors, especially in relation to societies in transition from war to peace. This was reiterated by the Executive Committee at its forty-ninth session, with the specific request that the High Commissioner keep it informed of UNHCR's own reintegration activities, especially the implementation of its Operational Framework for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities in Post-Conflict Situations. The Executive Committee also asked to be kept abreast of initiatives taken in engaging other humanitarian and development partners, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international financial institutions, on this subject (A/AC.96/911, para. 23 (n)).

2. Highlighting this issue further, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) took up the theme International cooperation and coordination in response to the humanitarian emergencies, particularly in the transition from relief to rehabilitation, reconstruction and development during the humanitarian segment of its 1999 substantive session. This resulted in the adoption of a set of Agreed Conclusions, emphasizing inter alia the need for priority to be given to this issue by the United Nations1.

3. This conference room paper provides a summary of a number of recent initiatives with a focus on processes and programmes. Such initiatives have ranged from the Roundtable on the Gap between Humanitarian Assistance and Long-term Development, co-sponsored by UNHCR and the World Bank and convened by the Brookings Institution (Washington D. C.) to discussions at various levels within the United Nations system, and include developments specific to UNHCR.


4. The Roundtable on the Gap between Humanitarian Assistance and Long-term Development met twice in the course of 1999. The first meeting took place in Washington D. C. in January 1999. Participation, though limited in number, included representatives of the various actors: the United Nations, international funding institutions, bilateral donors, recipient countries and NGOs. A report on this meeting was presented to the fourteenth meeting of the Standing Committee in February 1999 (EC/49/SC/CRP.6).

5. A second meeting took place in Paris in July 1999, again convened by the Brookings Institute with a similar broad participation. It recalled how recent events had further highlighted the gaps affecting the transition from humanitarian aid to development assistance in post-conflict societies, stressing the importance of forging strong "coalitions of the willing" embracing a wide range of actors. It was agreed, however, that rather than creating new bureaucratic layers, it would be more effective to breathe life into existing arrangements by establishing "partnership initiatives" on a case-by-case basis. The Roundtable suggested applying this approach in Sierra Leone, Burundi and the Great Lakes region of Africa. It also proposed to keep a "watching brief" on Kosovo, encouraging close coordination between the humanitarian and development components of the coordination structures already in place.

6. The World Bank, UNHCR and UNDP were designated to provide secretariat support to facilitate the ongoing work of the Roundtable. Their first meeting at Working Group level took place in November 1999 at the World Bank, and a work programme was agreed upon.

"Partnership initiative" in Sierra Leone

7. In the Brookings process, Sierra Leone was identified as a test case for the concept of "partnership initiatives". The aim would be to bring those willing to commit themselves to working with the national authorities and elements of civil society to address the challenging needs of a country emerging from conflict, through an expanded cooperative effort .

8. On 1 February 1999, the World Bank, UNDP and UNHCR will undertake a high-level mission to Sierra Leone and neighbouring countries. The week-long mission, which will take account of the results of previous missions, will be led by Mr. Zephirin Diabre (Associate Administrator, UNDP), Mr. Frederick Barton (Deputy High Commissioner, UNHCR) and Mr. Mats Karlsson (Vice-President, External Affairs, the World Bank). In view of the special interest shown by the Government of the United Kingdom in developments in this country, as confirmed at the Paris Roundtable, the joint mission to Sierra Leone has been prepared in close consultation with the Department for International Development (DFID) in the United Kingdom. Briefing sessions will take place upon return with donor countries which participated in the Paris Roundtable, other interested donor governments, countries in the West Africa sub-region, NGOs and United Nations agencies concerned.


9. At the initiative of the Deputy Secretary-General following discussions with the High Commissioner, the theme of "Reintegration: Bridging the Gap between Relief and Development" was considered at a joint meeting in November 1998 of the United Nations Executive Committees on Peace and Security (ECPS) and on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), together with the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). In view of the importance of the issue, it was decided that it should be taken up at the IASC Working Group with the participation of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) and the World Bank. This then led to the formation of a Reference Group on Post-Conflict Reintegration, convened by UNDP and including interested IASC members and other actors as identified by the joint Executive Committees. Rather than preparing additional conceptual documents, its task was to promote innovative and practical solutions to the problems posed by the "gap".

10. A report by the Reference Group served as basis for a questionnaire which was sent to 12 Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators in crisis countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Haiti, Liberia, Burundi, Angola, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Colombia. The responses revealed two major issues as key factors in determining the extent and effectiveness of international response in post-conflict situations: funding and coordination. Based on further analysis of these and similar situations, five cases were selected as representative of the main challenges and mechanisms relevant to post-conflict reintegration: Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Somalia. Missions will be undertaken to each of these countries, with the following objectives:

  • To assess strategic and operational coordination at the country level, and review coordination tools and their effectiveness for each specific situation;
  • To review the level of funding for post-conflict reintegration activities and assess the effectiveness of the primary resource mobilization mechanisms used; and
  • To review major constraints or opportunities for managing post-conflict transitions.

11. It is planned that these missions, involving IASC Reference Group members and partners from the OECD/DAC Task Force on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation, will be completed by mid-April 2000. UNHCR will lead the mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and will participate in the mission to Azerbaijan. A preliminary set of findings and recommendations from the Reference Group will then be drafted for consideration by the IASC Working Group, prior to endorsement by the IASC plenary meeting in May 2000.


12. As one of the outcomes of the Brookings Roundtable in Paris, the OECD/DAC Task Force on Peace, Conflict and Security, has undertaken to keep the "gap" issues under review and examine related policy and "best practice. UNHCR is also participating in the OECD/DAC regional consultations aimed at updating the OECD/ DAC Guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation using lessons learned in applying the Guidelines. The last such consultation was held in Addis Ababa in November 1999, in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Africa and the Organization of African Unity.

13. Cooperation with the World Bank continues to be strengthened. A staff exchange programme between UNHCR and the World Bank was agreed upon in March 1999 and five applicants were proposed by UNHCR for short-term secondment by UNHCR to the World Bank in November 1999. A World Bank staff member is to join the UNHCR office in Sierra Leone in March 2000, while another was seconded in an advisory capacity in August 1999 to UNHCR's programme on internally displaced populations in Colombia. Joint projects initiated with the World Bank include those in Azerbaijan and Burundi. In Azerbaijan, UNHCR, the World Bank and UNDP embarked on a Joint Reintegration and Reconstruction Project for displaced persons returning to war-torn areas in the west of the country. In Burundi, a Community Rehabilitation Project targets poor provinces that are affected by the return and resettlement of refugees and displaced persons. This project, funded by the Bank and managed by UNHCR, was developed jointly with the Government. Another project in Burundi, under the World Bank Social Investment Fund, has also been developed with the involvement of UNHCR. Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Sri Lanka, UNHCR and the World Bank is currently being developed. UNHCR also participated in the Joint Assessment Mission in Timor in October-November 1999, which was led by the World Bank.

14. Cooperation with UNDP has lately focused on Kosovo, with the objective of developing a country-specific Memorandum of Understanding within the Framework for Cooperation between UNDP and UNHCR. Furthermore, UNHCR has shared in the UNDP-led revision of the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), and helped develop Terms of Reference for the IASC Reference Group's missions in January-March 2000.

15. In addition, UNHCR co-sponsored an International Workshop on Microfinance in Post-Conflict Countries with the ILO in September 1999 in Geneva. Participants included practitioners, donors and several United Nations agencies. This brought the issue of microfinance interventions in post-conflict countries to the table. Follow-up activities are currently under way, relating in particular to the reintegration of refugees.


16. Under the overall leadership of the Deputy High Commissioner and with support from the Reintegration and Local Settlement Section within the Division of Operational Support, a UNHCR strategy for mainstreaming the "Brookings" approach was mapped out in September 1999. These meetings have had wide crosscutting participation from within UNHCR.

17. Country-specific Working Groups (Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Great Lakes, Tajikistan, Timor, Western Sahara, southern Caucasus, and Colombia) were also formed to examine the transition issues, to identify opportunities for "partnership initiatives" and to develop strategies at country or regional level. This work is part of an overall strategy with two overarching objectives: to disseminate information within the Office so as to sensitize managers to the Brookings Process, and to select other operational situations where the Brookings Process might be applied once the conditions are right.

18. A site on the UNHCR Intranet was developed and launched in early December 1999. Regularly updated by the Reintegration and Local Settlement Section, the site aims to serve as an informative tool, as well as an in-house discussion forum to advance the "Brookings" agenda. It is intended to link the site to the Global Peacebuilding Network (GPN) site managed by the World Bank.

19. UNHCR's Operational Framework for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities in Post-Conflict Situations, has been updated in the light of the Brookings Process, as well as UNHCR policies related to gender, children, and environment. It is planned to issue the revised Framework to UNHCR field offices and partners in early March 2000. Meanwhile, the provisional version has been distributed to selected field offices, including Azerbaijan, Burundi, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where operational partnerships with the World Bank and/or UNDP are under way.


20. These various examples illustrate the extent to which the subject of reintegration has now become an important issue within a range of fora. They confirm that there is now a greater interest in ensuring a convergence of efforts and synergy through partnership to deal with the "gaps" between humanitarian assistance and long-term development. This represents a significant step forward.

1 " ... demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation are some of the major areas where "gaps" between relief and development occur. The Council also stress[ed] that demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation be designed and implemented taking into account a gender perspective. The Council stress[ed] therefore that sustainable reintegration strategies, including comprehensive mine action programmes, wherever require[d], are a substantial prerequisite for stabilization in post-conflict situations. The Council urged the Secretary-General and the ERC to ensure that priority attention be given to effective programming in this field. The Council stress[ed] the importance of addressing the needs of returning refugees." (Agreed Conclusions, paragraph 21)