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Partnerships for Global Humanitarian Relief and Diplomacy
IBM Global Services
IBM Business Resilience & Continuity Services
Proactive and experienced support
during a disaster
Today, millions of dollars of donated humanitarian relief
funds, supplies and resources, along with thousands of hours of volunteer
time, are sometimes ineffectively utilized in the responses to global crisis
events. Duplication of effort, lack of direction, poor communications,
limited cooperation and a need for diplomacy are among the factors that
contribute to this dilemma.
A public and private sector global partnership that is
embraced by major corporations, the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) could provide a unique opportunity to combine
individual skills, resources and knowledge in a manner that would
significantly improve the way disaster relief is delivered globally. Such
enhanced partnerships can help reduce redundancy and effectively match
crisis needs against available resources while maximizing the benefits of
donations, accelerating recovery and reducing suffering.
Steps to success
The four major steps to a successful enhanced partnership
Each private sector company that participates in the
partnership would be asked to sign a volunteer MOU, a document that
represents a corporate community relations offer to potentially provide
products, services, skills or other resources during a global
humanitarian crisis. In the MOU, each company would provide the name of
a contact person, e-mail address, and telephone number that could be
called at any time for the purpose of notification and coordination in
the event of a global crisis.
The information collected would be used to create a
central database where potential donor resources could be sorted by
type, global location, quantity and availability. The partnership would
then update and validate the information quarterly. “Open system”
architecture would link the database with UN and NGO systems as needed.
In the event of a crisis, the partnership would
immediately deploy a highly skilled field operations team into the
disaster area. Working directly with the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)—a UN agency, responding NGOs, and authorized
government officials from the impacted country, the team would assist
with the rapid assessment of damage and the identification of immediate
response and recovery needs. The centralized database of MOU resources
would be tapped to first find a match against the response and recovery
needs and then issue a request for support. In cooperation with the
United Nations Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC), the partnership would
receive, manage and deploy donated supplies, resources and services to
reduce redundancy and deliver supplies where they are truly needed.
Centralized reporting and real-time status updates would be provided to
all agencies and participants.
Global disasters are tragic, yet they often provide a
unique opportunity to build diplomatic relations between disparate
groups. Natural disasters in particular can be catalysts for finding
common ground and, in some cases, achieving peace. For example, on July
20, 2005, President Yudhoyono of Indonesia ordered the Indonesian Armed
Forces to halt all military operations against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
This 29-year conflict, with over 12,000 casualties, may finally end
because of diplomatic efforts that began as a result of the
tsunami-related cease fire. An enhanced public and private sector
partnership can encourage other, similar diplomatic actions by gaining
agreement on common goals: help victims, save lives, reduce risk and
increase community resilience against disasters.
Enhanced partnerships can play an important role in
the processes of building consensus and obtaining support from multiple
private sector, government, UN and NGO organizations. Therefore, these
partnerships cannot have a political, self-serving or economic agenda.
They must remain neutral, build trust, find common ground and foster
commitment. The ideal partnership team must include representatives from
all major sectors and agencies.
One major consideration for an enhanced partnership
is its international status and its ability to raise and receive funds
required for operation. To maintain the neutral political, economic and
The partnership deploys a field
operations team to assess recovery needs, which can be drawn from the
database. A public and private sector partnership can encourage diplomatic
relations and actions that emphasize common goals among disparate groups.
The partnership should maintain a neutral political, economic and social
stance for structure and fundraising.
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G510-6480-00 required for
success, an international non-profit foundation (501-C3) appears to be the
best fit. One such organization is the Global Partnership for Preparedness (GPP).
This non-profit was established approximately one year ago. The Disaster
Recovery Institute International (DRII) provided the initial financial
support with private sector donations and endorsements from Public and
Private Businesses, Inc. (PPBI) and many leading private sector
corporations. The primary mission of GPP includes fostering global
cooperation and coordination in disaster response and recovery. The GPP
mission also includes supporting community preparedness and resilience
efforts in the United States and internationally. To accomplish its mission,
the partnership must operate delicately in close cooperation with UN and NGO
agencies and major business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and the Business Roundtable. The partnership will require a
structure that can easily link and adapt to this global mix.
In addition to the actions of the GPP, UN disaster relief
coordination programs led by OCHA have begun to reach out to the private
sector with an interest in building the type of partnership described in
this article. Efforts are also underway to consolidate many of the public
and private sector open systems and practices that were successfully
developed and deployed in response to the December 26, 2004, Asian tsunami.
With focus, dedication and lots of hard work, enhanced global public and
private partnerships can lead the way toward achieving new levels of
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