Thursday, August 07, 2008

OCHA and InterAction Collaborate to Ensure Success of UN Missions

Creating the most talented and diversified pool of potential UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs and HCs) is the task ahead for Mr. Mark Prasopa-Plaizier, Manager of the Humanitarian Coordinators Pool for OCHA. On July 28 he met with members of InterAction’s Humanitarian Partnership working group to identify the reasons fueling OCHA’s inability to attract the best potential candidates and to brainstorm solutions to ensure to ensure the success of all UN humanitarian missions.

Mr. Prasopa-Plaizier began by identifying setbacks in recruiting the most qualified candidates for HC and RC positions. At the heart of the issue is the reluctance of both UN agencies and NGOs to release their best personnel go, as they invest heavily in staff retention and management programs. Consequently, those entering the pool are neither the brightest nor most experienced. Past and current recruitment programs have found much difficulty in creating a diverse pool of applicants, as nearly all are middle-aged Scandinavian men.. He also notes obstacles rooted in the subjective evaluation process that grants much sway to the personal biases of reviewers.

So how can we ensure that the most qualified people are holding these extremely important and influential positions? And how can we assure that they are well trained before assuming them? Mr. Prasopa-Plaizier suggests the following changes:
-Increasing recruitment from NGOs.
-Heightening advertisement of HC and RC positions in UN agencies other than UNDP and UNHCR.
-Designing an inclusive application giving a full appraisal of candidates.
-Recruiting and utilizing a large, diversified candidate database.
-Making a detailed career development track for HC/ RC positions.
-Detailing the career and personal benefits of HC/ RC positions.
-Regionalizing staff to encourage local sustainability and involvement.
-Developing a program to ease the transition of former HC/RCs back into the UN and NGO systems.
-Providing hopeful applicants with mentorship and shadowing with HC/RCs.
-Structuring an inter-exchange with UN and NGOs.

HCs and RCs are key drivers in international development. If talented, they can set conflict and post-conflict areas on a sustainable path to recovery and growth; however, if only satisfactory, they can stagnate and even obstruct progress in anguished nations. To ensure that those holding these positions are among the world’s most elite leaders and negotiators, we must enforce Mr. Prasopa-Plazier’s changes.

Sponsor: InterAction
Date: July 28, 2009
Time: 9-10.30 am
Representative Attending: Elizabeth Caniano

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