LIST OF IASC DECISIONS REGARDING THE USE OF THE CLUSTER APPROACH
November 2005 (IASC Working Group)
Recalling the decisions made at the IASC Principals meeting of September 2005 to implement
the cluster approach in major new emergencies starting in 2006, using a phased approach, and
taking note that IDD, on behalf of the ERC, has consulted with a number of agencies, HCs and
Country Teams on the selection of existing crisis situations for the implementation of the
cluster approach, recently undertaking inter-agency missions to the DRC and Uganda, agreed
that the final decision on the selection of countries will be made at the IASC Principals on 12
Agreed that a lead agency is in principle expected to be the “provider of last resort”. This
concept, however, will require further examination for cross-cutting clusters such as early
recovery and camp management, which cover complex and cross-sectoral processes as opposed
to a single sector of humanitarian action.
For the cluster discussion at the upcoming IASC Principals Meeting 12 December 2005, the
IASC-WG agreed on the following preparatory actions: a) Clusters chairs should present
Executive Summaries/Progress Reports/Final Report (as appropriate) including initial
indicative costing requirements, as per attached Table; b) The IASC Secretariat should
submit a list of key issues addressed and difficulties faced during the WG discussion for
consideration by the Principals; c) The ERC should present a list of countries in which to
apply the cluster approach gradually, following consultations with the IASC Principals and
relevant Humanitarian Coordinators.
Agreed on the need to harmonise – to the extent possible – different tools used by Cluster
Working Groups (CWGs) and by Subsidiary Bodies, such as needs assessment and
contingency planning, to ensure coherence of the overall humanitarian response at the country
level across sectors and clusters.
Recognizing that timely availability of necessary resources is a key to launching the cluster
approach, agreed on the urgent need for a resource mobilization strategy, with common and
individual agency elements, encompassing capacity-building needs for the clusters and
operational needs for the field, under the leadership of the ERC.
Agreed on the need to carry out a comprehensive review exercise on the cluster approach in
Pakistan to be undertaken by the Inter-Agency Evaluation Group, including non-UN members
Agreed on the importance of a field-driven/centred approach and on the urgent need to further
engage the HCs and Country Teams and inform them about the cluster approach and its
implications. As a first step, the IASC Secretariat should share “Generic Terms of Reference
for Cluster Leads at the Country Level” (prepared by OCHA) with all HCs in CAP countries,
for their comments, in order to have a wide range of relevant country team inputs before
proceeding to finalize the Generic Terms of Reference
December 2005 (IASC Principals)
Reviewed and generally welcomed the cluster implementation plans and agreed on the steps
needed to establish a system of flexible and phased implementation in 2006 for new big
emergencies, taking into account the points raised at the meeting which would be conveyed to
the Clusters Working Groups.
Agreed on the initial implementation of the cluster approach in DRC, Uganda and Liberia, and
noted that consultations with HCs and IASC Country Teams may lead to more countries being
discussed at the next IASC Principals in April 2006. Until then the ERC could respond to
requests for assistance from HCs about possible cluster implementation through consultation
with agencies. OCHA and IDD would facilitate the consultation process together with partner
agencies from the IASC.
Generally endorsed the recommendation by the ERC on the designation of lead role for natural
disasters for emergency shelter and camp coordination and management in natural disasters:
IFRC‟s offer to play a leading role with regard to emergency shelter in relation to natural
disasters and IOM‟s to play a cluster lead role in camp coordination and camp management.
The three protection-mandated agencies, UNHCR, UNICEF and OHCHR had agreed that
under the overall leadership of the HC/RC, assisted by OCHA, they would consult closely and
agree which of the three would assume the role of cluster lead for protection.
Recalled that the application of the cluster approach was agreed for nine clusters with the
understanding that there were three sectors – food, led by WFP, refugees, led by UNHCR and
education, led by UNICEF – where the cluster approach was not required and reaffirmed that
an additional sector be added, agriculture, led by FAO, in order to ensure continued attention to
the support of livelihoods both to mitigate the impact of, and support the rehabilitation from,
emergencies on rural populations.
Agreed to continue refining the cluster approach, recognizing that there was a need for
flexibility and ample time to fully develop this concept, concentrating on gap-filling at the
global level and effective coordination in the field with a more inclusive process for engaging
Agreed to further analyse the clusters‟ costs and requirements, before approaching donors,
focusing on filling gaps and building capacity.
Agreed to organize a donor consultation to present the needs for implementation in DRC,
Uganda and Liberia.
Welcomed the suggestion of conducting a review of the implementation of the cluster approach
Agreed that a note should be sent to the field offices from the ERC, indicating progress and
achievements so far in the cluster discussion, stressing the importance of an inclusive
January 2006 (Ad Hoc IASC Working Group)
AERC/OCHA to meet with cluster lead agencies to further refine the global cost requirements
and implementation plans. With regard to country level budgets, cluster lead agencies are to
finalize their needs assessments as soon as possible to determine funding requirements for the
three countries selected for initial implementation (Liberia, Uganda and DRC) for subsequent
presentation to donors.
The issue of inter-linkages between clusters, including common services and surge capacity, to
be discussed at the meeting of all chairpersons of IASC Subsidiary Bodies and Cluster
Working Groups on 6 February 2006.
March 2006 (IASC Working Group)
Committed to provide more practical suggestions on the issue of cross cutting issues, taking
into account the discussion of the Informal Contact Group set up during the meeting.
Agreed to include the issue of older persons at the next IASC Working Group meeting. Agreed
that ICVA will follow up with „HelpAge International‟ regarding their participation at this
discussion and that IASC Secretariat will retrieve past IASC discussions on older persons.
Underscored the importance of ensuring inclusiveness of all IASC agencies in developing the
cluster approach, including at the field level.
Recommended to the IASC Principals that, based on gaps to be identified by the respective
HCs and Country Teams in Colombia and Nepal, an IASC mission be fielded to determine
needs and to explore the feasibility of the implementation of the cluster approach in these two
Recommended to table the cluster roll-out in Somalia, pending consultation with the Country
Team and subject to agreement by the RC/HC regarding the appropriateness, desirability and
feasibility of pursuing the formal cluster application in Somalia, to the IASC Principals as an
additional country for cluster roll-out, considering a cluster model is already in place there.
Agreed that the cluster approach moves forward incrementally in all new major emergencies as
well as in the three roll-out countries, noting, however, that it needs to proceed based on the
provision of proper guidance to the field.
Reiterated that only strategically essential costs of stockpiling should be incorporated in the
Cluster Appeal and that the current Cluster Appeal covers the activities of 2006. Agreed that
the cluster implementation plans will be made available to donors, based on existing budgets
presented in the 2006 Appeal.
Agreed on the urgent need for field guidance on the cluster approach and established a Task
Team to develop draft generic inter-agency guidance package by end of March 2006 which
would include the following:(a) The Generic ToR for the Cluster Leads at the Country Level,
taking into account feedback received from HCs and (b) The Question & Answers on the
Clusters, which will further elaborate on the issues of “provider of last resort”, “accountability”,
“cluster membership”, “sectoral coordination”, “inter-cluster issues” as well as funding.
Agreed that the global cluster appeal will be reviewed with the Mid Year Review of the CAP
and that indicative budgets for response to an emergency for 500,000 persons, which were
developed (but not included) in the Clusters Appeal, be kept and refined for the preparation of
future Flash Appeals, and for determining funding to be requested from the CERF at the onset
of an emergency
For the funding appeals for Uganda, Liberia and DRC, agreed to revise the Consolidated
Appeal to reflect the cluster approach in inclusive manner.
Noting with appreciation the progress made, requested IOM, IFRC and relevant agencies to
broaden the partnerships with IASC and non-IASC agencies in the CCCM and Emergency
Shelters Clusters in natural disasters.
Reiterated the outstanding action points from the IASC meeting of 6th February 2006, and
agreed to add “environment” to the list of cross cutting issues.
April 2006 (IASC Principals)
Supported the strategy for resource mobilization, in order to generate additional funds for the
Cluster Appeal in 2006 including the identification of donors to “shepherd” particular clusters.
Noted that IFRC and the ERC will finalize shortly a Letter of Understanding to develop a
formal agreement in respect to IFRC‟s convener role in Emergency Shelter.
Agreed with the recommendations outlined in the background paper on the RTE in Pakistan.
In particular the IASC Principals, together with the UN Development Group, must strengthen
the partnership with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), especially the World Bank,
in support of the recovery phase, including their participation in the Early Recovery phase and
in other relevant clusters.
Agreed to support an IASC mission to Colombia to explore the possible application of the
Cluster Approach, at a time agreed upon with the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Country
Endorsed Somalia as an additional country for cluster roll-out.
Noted that the NGOs consortia will consolidate their comments and establish an NGOs Cluster
Reference Group in order to fine-tune the Draft Guidance Package in consultation with the
NGOs in the field.
The revised Draft Cluster Guidance Package will be circulated as a working document for
guidance to the field. A final version will then be submitted for endorsement at the next IASC
OCHA will urgently circulate the Draft Cluster Guidance Package to include the additional
comments recently received from agencies as well as comments and suggestions conveyed
during the Principals meeting. The revised version will include a cover note from the ERC
emphasizing the need for inclusiveness in the process of all relevant stakeholders (all NGOs as
well as local governments)
July 2006 (IASC Working Group)
Committed to provide more practical suggestions on the issue of cross cutting issues, taking
into account the discussion of the Informal Contact Group set up during the meeting.
Endorsed the proposal to issue a consolidated Report on Implementation of Global-Level
Cluster Capacity-Building (in lieu of a Mid-Year Review) in late February/early March 2007,
prior to a subsequent Cluster Appeal for 2007 in March 2007.
Requested OCHA to circulate to IASC agencies the matrix of funding against the 2006 Cluster
Requested OCHA to lead a process to evaluate the cluster approach in the pilot countries.
Agreed to discuss the revised cluster guidance note in an ad hoc IASC Working Group meeting
Requested OCHA to facilitate an IASC consultative process, through the above group (see
point 2) [group set up at 65 WG to look at cluster related issues] in preparation for the next
IASC WG and Principals meetings, to revise where necessary the cluster guidance package
including on broader policy issues, such as:
(a) Relevant outcomes of 12-13 July 2006 meeting of UN and non-UN agencies;
(b) Feedback from the field on the guidance note circulated in June 2006 (deadline
extended until 15 September 2006);
(c) Further suggested guidance on larger policy issues including:
Gap filling vs. new coordination architecture
Provider of last resort/accountability
Activation of the cluster approach and definition of “major new emergency”
Management of cross-cutting policy priorities
Role of global clusters with field-level clusters and interface of global clusters in
non cluster countries.
Requested OCHA to consult urgently with a smaller group of IASC agencies in order to address as
quickly as possible the problems that have arisen in certain countries over coordination arrangements
for the cluster, provide guidance on cluster-related issues requiring immediate resolution, including
operational issues that have arisen in Chad, Uganda and other countries. This smaller group will be
led by OCHA and shall include: ICVA, IFRC, IOM, RSG for HR of IDPs, SCHR, UNDP, UNFPA,
UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and the IASC Secretariat. The result of these discussions will be circulated
as a brief paper to the IASC Working Group
Agreed that, with the proposed Report on Implementation, coupled with the June 2006 Update,
there will be no need for a separate Mid-Year Review of the 2006 Cluster Appeal.
Requested OCHA to provide the IASC Working Group with a list of countries where the
cluster approach has been approved and is being implemented.
Encouraged appealing agencies to keep OCHA informed of any allocations to the Cluster
Appeal, to enable enhanced financial tracking and support to donors‟ efforts to coordinate
allocations to minimize inequities in funding across clusters.
Encouraged cluster lead agencies to ensure that funds received are disbursed according to
priorities agreed with cluster partners.
Agreed that there will be no consolidated Cluster Appeal after 2007, a joint document outlining
agency plans for funding the clusters, should still be issued for advocacy purposes on an annual
October 2006 (Ad Hoc IASC Working Group)
Welcomes the report [Colombia Mission] and the outcome of the mission, as a good inter-
agency exercise and highlighting the importance of flexibility in applying the cluster approach
at the country level.
Requested OCHA-HRSU to further revise the cluster Note based on discussions from the
meeting and re-circulate the document to the IASC Working Group by 17 October 2006.
Requested OCHA-HRSU to include with the revised cluster Note a statement of the procedures
for clearance with specific deadlines for action.
November 2006 (IASC Working Group)
Endorsed the Cluster Guidance Note as a living document with the inclusion of revised
language on the importance of accountability for lead agencies (as proposed by UNICEF).
Stressed the need to disseminate the Cluster Guidance Note to the field as soon as possible
through the Humanitarian Coordinators
Requested the establishment of a Task Team, to (i) review the findings in the cluster self-
assessment and the development of a cluster evaluation strategy in 2007, which focuses on
impact rather than on process, (ii) prioritize actions and next steps including the development
of criteria and a consultation mechanism for the selection of countries for further roll-out in
2007 with the understanding that this is primarily a field driven process, and (iii) develop
further operational guidance including toolkits and training for cluster leads.
Requested OCHA to convene a meeting among IASC agencies to discuss a resource
mobilization strategy for the cluster appeal 2007 and beyond, including the implications for
IASC agencies of having to integrate cluster-approach-related costs into their core budgets, and
to arrange a meeting with donors in December 2006, to solicit their views and finalize the
December 2006 (IASC Principals)
Agreed to provide continued support for the implementation of the Cluster Guidance Note,
taking into account the need to monitor progress and report back to the IASC on cluster
implementation at both global and field level.
March 2007 (IASC Working Group)
Endorsed the two-phased approach of the Cluster Evaluation and committed to provide
personnel with technical expertise to participate.
Requested OCHA to inform as soon as possible the IASC membership of all countries
using the cluster approach. Such a list should be periodically updated and communicated to
the IASC membership.
Affirmed commitment to support the IASC Task Team endeavours to implement the cluster
approach in remaining countries with a Humanitarian Coordinator and in new emergencies,
based on an action plan presented by the Task Team from the results of the Diagnostic Tool,
but with due regard to the capacity of cluster lead agencies and lessons learned from
April 2007 (IASC Principals)
Agreed that the cluster roll out should be field-driven and based on lessons learned from the
implementation at the country level and committed to enhance capacity building efforts by
supporting the field workshops organized by OCHA.
Requested that the cluster evaluation should include an external component and should focus
on capacity issues, on gaps and duplications, on information-sharing and on the overall impact
of the cluster approach on the delivery of humanitarian action to beneficiaries.
June 2007 (IASC Working Group)
Asked the Task Team on cluster implementation, the Cluster Evaluation Steering Group and
CERF Inter-Agency Working Group to address the recommendations from the Inter-Agency
RTE in the forthcoming inter-agency evaluation of the cluster approach and other evaluations
of key components/pillars of the humanitarian reform that might be called for by the IASC.
Committed to continue supporting a field-driven process of introducing the cluster approach
through workshops, training, resource mobilization and other support as needed with priority in
2007 being given to those countries where workshops organized by the Task Team have taken
place or are being planned, i.e. Afghanistan, CAR, Chad, Côte d‟Ivoire, Eritrea, Guinea, Haiti,
Niger, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Timor- Leste and Zimbabwe.
Welcomed the proposal to convene a meeting with current and potential new donors and global
cluster leads at an appropriate time, to discuss issues related to the implementation of the
cluster approach including mainstreaming plans and roll-out.
Noting the importance of (i) increasing awareness and dialogue on the cluster approach with all
stakeholders, as well as of (ii) ensuring sustainability of global capacity building efforts beyond
the 2008 appeal period, asked the IASC Task Team to propose concrete steps to address these
issues and to report on the progress at the next IASC Working Group meeting.