Walking the Talk: Inclusion and Accountability

The Alliance for Empowering Partnerships (A4EP) is a network of organisations committed to rebalancing the humanitarian architecture and practices to enable locally-led responses. This position paper is a contribution to discussions during the ECOSOC meeting and side events from June 24-27 June, in Geneva. It highlights four attention points and makes recommendations for the way forward. Click here to see the full statement.


In this first ‘GMI Insights’ we share some of the insights and learnings from our recent collaborations and contributions e.g. on working with conflict sensitivity; evaluation; partnering; prevention of harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation; individual and team full potential etc. But we also want to convey a more fundamental insight: the value of working with a holistic perspective. All of us, including you, are individuals, within teams, that are part of organisations, which collaborate or partner with others, to effect positive change in a wider world, that itself is evolving significantly. We can have our specific thematic focus, but need to maintain the broader view. Our professional development needs to go together with personal development. And we will give our best if we feel inspired by a higher purpose, and our working environment has a positive atmosphere. Find out more here

LOCALISATION & GLOBALISATION: The conversation gets serious

Recent conversations and reports signal that the localisation debate is changing in significant ways: After three years of talk and research dominated by international agencies, without much progress in practice, the conversation is moving away from technical questions about definitions, indicators, and tracing money flows. The spotlight is now on the nature of the relationship between international and local/national agencies. Distrust, prejudice and compliance overwhelm, outdated notions of capacity-building, and localisation as driver of globalisation are coming to the foreground. Having been framed all this time in terms of operational efficiency, it is now acquiring a strategic perspective, with more profound questions about the purpose of international cooperation, the relationship between global civil societies, and the future role of international NGOs in a rapidly changing world. Read more about this here.

PREPARED-FOR-PARTNERSHIP? Trust and distrust in international cooperation

The prevailing mood in the relief sector is distrust; the prevailing effort in the peacebuilding sector is trust building. This has significant impact on the abilities to collaborate and form equitable partnerships. Why these stark differences. The blog identifies a number of structural contributing factors but invites attention to the different appreciations in these sectors of the importance of ‘being’ skills, in complement to ‘doing’ ones.


CHALLENGES IN PARTNERSHIP GOVERNANCE: Some attention points and tips

The bigger challenges in today’s world are often too complex to be handled by one agency alone, however capable and well resourced. More often than not, we have to collaborate with others to have effective influence and create more significant impacts. Each brings distinctive competencies, legitimacies, connections and understanding, and can take up distinctive roles. Unfortunately, the prevailing mindset and practices are towards organisational competition, with our attention very inward looking to the organisation we belong to. There is an assumption that collaboration, if needed, is no different from ordinary autonomous practice. It is not: collaboration, certainly in a more equitable ‘partnership’ spirit, requires distinctive competencies. Facilitators, partnership brokers and organisational relationship and systems coaches, can help.

Let me share here a few attention points, and tips. When reflecting on them, I have some concrete examples in mind where I played or continue to play a brokering and coaching role. But I am quite confident they have much wider applicability. Judge for yourself. Read on.


International relief action has become much professionalised and is the better for it. But are the continued professionalisation and technological innovations driving out the fundamental ‘humanity’ and ‘compassion’ in our engagement with crisis-affected people? Is our concentration on ‘vulnerability’, ‘data-driven decision-making’ and ‘effectiveness-at-scale’ unintentionally depriving those we seek to help of ‘agency’, of the ability to regain more control over their lives and the decisions that affect it? Is our desire to communicate to and with affected people, in practice impeding their effective participation? Explore these questions with us here.