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Rwanda Emergency: Evaluation and Lessons Learnt

Executive Committee Meetings

Rwanda Emergency: Evaluation and Lessons Learnt

2 January 1995


1. It will be recalled that the Executive Committee, in the General Decision on Programme, Administrative and Financial Matters adopted at its Forty-fifth Session (A/AC.96/839, para. 24 (h)), requested UNHCR to undertake a lessons learnt exercise which includes the convening of an informal consultation on the response, both in Headquarters and in the field, to the Rwanda emergency; this exercise, led by UNHCR, should involve relevant United Nations agencies and departments, Governments and implementing agencies, and should address, inter alia, the issues set out in paragraphs 38 and 86 of document A/AC.96/838.

2. At the Planning Meeting for the Sub-Committee on Administrative and Financial Matters (SCAF) held on 6 December 1994, an informal discussion took place on UNHCR's proposals to assure an appropriate follow-up to this decision. Given that a number of other studies/evaluations were being planned by the various parties involved in the Rwanda Emergency, UNHCR expressed the view that the lessons learnt exercise called for by its Executive Committee should be coordinated with these initiatives, while assuring a distinct "lessons learnt" product for UNHCR.


3. One of the aforementioned studies/evaluations grew out of a decision of a number of the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) to undertake a joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda. This joint evaluation proposal was discussed and adopted at a consultative meeting held on 18 November 1994 in Copenhagen. This meeting, convened by the Danish Foreign Ministry, was attended by representatives of OECD/DAC, United Nations agencies and departments, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS), and NGOs. The exercise comprises the following four distinct but related Studies:

I The Historical Context of the Conflict;

II Emergency-Prevention and Conflict-Management Efforts;

III Emergency Aid and Effects;

IV Repatriation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

The same meeting set up a Steering Committee, charged with overall responsibility for the evaluation, consisting of all donor countries and organizations present at the 18 November meeting, as well as those members of OECD/DAC who had indicated an interest in the project, but were unable to attend. Similarly, a Management Committee was constituted to assure day-to-day supervision of the evaluation. The Management Committee consists of representatives of four countries - Sweden (Study I), Norway (Study II), the United Kingdom (Study III) and the United States (Study IV) - which will assume lead agency responsibility for each of the studies; Denmark is to assure overall coordination of the evaluation. At the same meeting, the draft terms of reference of each of the studies were considered, as well as the funding of the evaluation.


A study of the detailed terms of reference of each of the above four components of the evaluation suggests that Study III is very similar in purpose (although more general in scope) to the lessons learnt exercise that UNHCR proposed to undertake.

The elements of UNHCR's proposed approach to the Executive Committee decision mentioned in paragraph 1 above, which were informally presented to the Planning Meeting on 6 December 1994, were as follows:

(i) UNHCR will offer its full support to the above-mentioned four-part Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda; it will also offer to co-sponsor Study III of the above-mentioned joint evaluation; it will offer a contribution of $ 15,000 - $ 20,000 towards covering the costs of this particular study;

(ii) UNHCR will itself conduct an internal lessons learnt exercise (e.g. a one-day seminar) on the Rwanda operation;

(iii) UNHCR's Central Evaluation Section will undertake a study on recurring lessons from recent emergencies; this study will take into account the findings of (ii) above;

(iv) a separate, but related, exercise will be undertaken by UNHCR in relation to service packages; this study will be undertaken, at the request of the High Commissioner, by Mr. E. Morris.

At the meeting of the Steering Committee on 9 December 1994 in Washington, DC, UNHCR indicated its willingness to participate in the OECD/DAC-inspired evaluation. At the same Steering Committee Meeting, the terms of reference for the four studies were adopted. Lists of possible consultants were also considered.


A meeting of the Management Committee (and consultants) is scheduled for 22-24 January 1995 in Geneva. During this meeting, UNHCR, along with other agencies, will be invited to make an initial presentation on the Rwanda Emergency. The Management Committee has also indicated its willingness to give, at that time, an initial briefing on the evaluation to interested SCAF Members.


The Sub-Committee will be kept informed, notably at its June meeting when the subject is scheduled for further consideration, of developments relating to the UNHCR-specific follow-up to the Executive Committee's decision on Rwanda, and the OECD/DAC initiative.

UNHCR has used the Steering Committee meetings for the joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda to convey the observations and concerns of the Executive Committee; in particular, UNHCR has stressed the importance of involving Rwanda and the neighbouring asylum countries in the process, as well as the need to consider other initiatives/studies on the Rwanda Emergency, in particular those sponsored by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

The SCAF, at its meeting on 16 January 1995, will be asked to give its formal endorsement of the above approach.