Key Resources on Cross-Cutting Issues

Humanitarian crises rarely affect everyone equally. A number of cross-cutting issues that transcend specific sectors must therefore be taken into consideration throughout all stages of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle to ensure quality and inclusive programming and response.

This page is intended to share key must-read resources on these thematic issues, which are linked below under each thematic section.

A longer list of key resources is available in this document (excel format).

Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers inflicts harm on those the humanitarian community is obligated to protect and jeopardizes the credibility of all assistance agencies. Humanitarian workers are expected to always uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct to protect beneficiaries of assistance. From the normative to the technical level, the IASC has taken determined action to strengthen the humanitarian sector’s response with a victim-centred approach. 

Key IASC resources on PSEA can be found here.

During armed conflict, civilians are often subjected to violence, abuse, coercion and deprivation. Experience shows that parties to conflict often violate the principles of distinction, proportion and precaution. It is thus incumbent on Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Teams and clusters to ensure that protection of all affected and at-risk persons informs humanitarian decision-making and response, including engagement with States and non-State parties to conflict. In 2016, the IASC Policy on Protection in Humanitarian Action emphasized the IASC’s commitment to prioritize protection and contribute to collective protection outcomes, including at the country level through the development of strategies to help Humanitarian Country Teams address the most critical and urgent risks and violations.

Key IASC resources on protection can be found here.

Further, dedicated guidance on protection in the HPC can be found here.

Accountability to affected people is a commitment by humanitarians to use power responsibly: to take account of, give account to, and be held to account by the people we seek to assist. In humanitarian action, this includes enabling affected people to meet their different needs, address their vulnerabilities, build on pre-existing capacities and drive programme adaptation through: 

  • Systematically sharing timely, relevant and actionable information with communities; 
  • Supporting the meaningful participation and leadership of affected people in decision-making, regardless of sex, age, disability status and other diversities; 
  • Ensuring community feedback systems are in place to enable affected people to assess and comment on the performance of humanitarian action, including on sensitive matters such as sexual exploitation and abuse, fraud, corruption and racism and discrimination. 

Key IASC resources on AAP can be found here.

Given the increasingly long-term duration of many crises, reducing the impact on affected people requires meeting immediate needs as well as investing in long-term solutions to reduce chronic vulnerabilities and risks. Building the capacity of formal and informal institutions, improving livelihoods, and increasing access to services boosts resilience and self-reliance and enhances people’s ability to cope with current disasters and withstand future crises. In practice, this involves providing short, medium and long-term assistance to vulnerable people concurrently, while prioritizing “reaching those furthest behind first” and fostering diverse partnerships between humanitarian and development actors. 

Key IASC resources on humanitarian-development collaboration can be found here.

If you have any questions on this subject or the below resources, please contact Pia Hussein,

The UN Secretary-General, at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, highlighted the need for humanitarian response to be “as local as possible and as international as necessary”. Since then, steady progress has been made to work with local and national actors in the delivery of aid, but greater efforts are needed in terms of funding as well as more robust, meaningful participation and representation of local actors in shaping humanitarian action on the ground. Key to this is the inclusion of local and national humanitarian actors (L/NAs) within IASC humanitarian coordination structures.

The guidance for such inclusion, and other key IASC resources on localization, can be found here.

A full list of IASC cross-cutting themes can be found here.