Envisioning the Grand Bargain: Documenting the Child Protection Area of Responsibility’s Approach to Localisation from 2017-2019
Established in 2007, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR) within the Global Protection Cluster (GPC), led by UNICEF, is the global-level forum for the coordination of Child Protection in humanitarian settings. Despite commitments and certain successes at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and subsequent Grand Bargain, there remains a lack of significant progress to shift power and resources into the hands of local actors. Coordination systems have an obligation to promote localisation as increasing local actors’ power, decision-making, and funding access, leads to a faster, more effective, and more sustainable humanitarian response.1
The CP AoR’s Localisation Initiative, grounded in the Localisation in Coordination Conceptual Framework (Annex I), has taken concrete steps to operationalize localisation. This was demonstrated in the establishment of the first global cluster Strategic Advisory Group (SAG), which has national representation and is chaired by a national actor. Anecdotally within the GPC, there was a sense that the CP AoR’s approach to localisation may be instructive to others.2 This assessment, led by Columbia University’s Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network with the support of the CP AoR’s Localisation Initiative, examines to what extent the CP AoR’s approach and subsequent initiatives undertaken in the early years of the localisation mandate have helped to advance the agenda.
This assessment used a mixed-methods approach, including a thorough desk review of 90 relevant documents and twelve key informant interviews. Data were analyzed using an assessment methodology known as Outcome Harvesting, which assesses complex non-linear initiatives and determines how approaches and actions contribute to outcomes. The purpose of this assessment is to both guide the Localisation Initiative within the CP AoR, as well as its members and wider stakeholders, to inform existing approaches to localisation while promoting a principled and effective child protection response.
Outcomes which have been partially achieved, and are the most visible, remain decentralized, language-specific Help Desks and increased participation and co-leadership of coordination structures by local and national actors. Despite these advances, there has been little to no improvement surrounding equitable and transparent partnerships and access to direct funding for local actors. Challenges remain, including resistance to localisation within the broader humanitarian system and a lack of investment in institutional capacity building initiatives, the latter being an area that CP AoR has subsequently chosen to prioritize. Gaps include dedicated Child Protection Coordinators, and institutionalized methods of translation and dissemination of key information and resources at the global CP AoR and country-level Coordination Groups. The humanitarian community has a long way to go, but the CP AoR is well placed to accelerate the localisation agenda based on the progress of the Localisation Initiative to date.
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Localisation Case Studies
Local actors and national organisations in the Global South are often excluded from decision-making mechanisms in international humanitarian responses. This exclusion, coupled with limited funding and resources for local organisations, perpetuates longstanding power imbalances and mentalities often critiqued as “neocolonial” and paternalistic. To better understand the experiences of local actors who have engaged with the international humanitarian response, the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network and the CP AoR have committed to documenting several localisation initiatives, highlighting promising practices and lessons learned from approaches to localisation, as well as suggesting alternative methods for those approaches that did not evolve fruitfully.
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