Framework for Cooperation between Global Affairs Canada and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

1. Introduction

This Framework for Cooperation lays out the understanding between Global Affairs Canada and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In addition to recognizing UNRWA and Global Affairs Canada’s shared interests, this Framework for Cooperation also outlines Global Affairs Canada’s expectations regarding the implementation of UNRWA’s reform initiatives, regular monitoring and reporting, and compliance with Canadian anti-terrorism requirements. Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA will review this Framework for Cooperation as required. It is understood that this document constitutes mutual commitments by Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA, and is therefore not intended to be legally binding.

2. Shared Objectives

Established in 1949, UNRWA is the only United Nations agency mandated to provide basic services and humanitarian assistance to over five million PalestineFootnote 1 refugees in the West Bank and Gaza, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon registered with the Agency. UNRWA delivers education, primary health care, relief and social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, and emergency and other assistance to Palestine refugees in its areas of operation. UNRWA’s operations depend almost entirely on the voluntary contributions of UN member states.

Providing humanitarian assistance and responding to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable is a priority of Canada’s foreign policy and international development agenda. Canadian support to UNRWA helps to address the needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the region. Canada expects all its partners to be accountable for the assistance they provide to beneficiaries with Canadian funding.

Given these shared interests, Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA plan to work together to address the following strategic priorities:

3. Implementation of UNRWA Reform Initiatives

In recent years, UNRWA has implemented reform initiatives to improve management capacity, increase program quality and efficiency, and increase financial sustainability and accountability. Consistent with the priorities outlined in the 2016-2021 Medium Term Strategy, implementation of UNRWA’s reform initiatives is ongoing. Global Affairs Canada is particularly interested in:

4. Neutrality Policies

Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA intend to work together, along with other donors, to continue to ensure that UNRWA implements its policies related to neutrality. Neutrality is a UN commitment and one of the four humanitarian principles formally adopted by the UN General Assembly and endorsed by UNRWA. It is understood to mean that irrespective of one’s personal beliefs and opinions, “humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.”Footnote 2 It is a core obligation and value of UN staff, as well as part of UNRWA’s regulatory framework.

Neutrality is critically important to United Nations humanitarian agencies to gain and maintain the confidence of all and to operate independently, safely and effectively, especially in politically-charged or conflict situations. Neutrality is also a core obligation and value of UN staff and an important condition for donors’ continued trust and financial and political support. Neutrality is integral to UNRWA operations and has been mainstreamed, as applicable, into UNRWA programming. Neutrality activities related to the conduct of staff and programming are integrated into UNRWA’s core work.

Together with other donors, Canadian support will help UNRWA undertake efforts to:

Approximately CDN$500,000 of Canadian funding will be allocated towards supporting: 1) mainstreamed neutrality activities and 2) new neutrality initiatives, thus helping UNRWA to implement its policies.

In addition to these efforts, Global Affairs Canada expects UNRWA to respond, as appropriate, to address credible allegations of neutrality violations, if they arise.

The attached Annex outlines key activities related to Global Affairs Canada’s expectations regarding UNRWA’s neutrality.

5. Monitoring and Reporting

Canada expects its development and humanitarian assistance funding to deliver results for the intended beneficiaries and expects UNRWA to report on these outcomes. Therefore, Global Affairs Canada welcomes UNRWA’s development of a results-based monitoring system to improve the quality and consistency of UNRWA reporting. Likewise, Global Affairs Canada is pleased that UNRWA has committed to develop a platform that enables UNRWA to better manage its programs and projects to achieve intended results as outlined in the 2016-2021 Medium Term Strategy.

Global Affairs Canada also acknowledges the release of UNRWA’s Annual Operational Report, previously called the Harmonized Results Report and now in its fifth year, and is committed to working with UNRWA and other donors to continue to help UNRWA strengthen its reporting to ensure that it responds to the needs of stakeholders. Global Affairs Canada expects UNRWA to continue to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation and internal oversight functions for the effective performance of UNRWA programs.

Global Affairs Canada appreciates UNRWA’s commitment to provide consistent, detailed and on-time narrative and financial reporting to demonstrate that funds are used as intended. Global Affairs Canada’s expectations on reporting are outlined below.

Global Affairs Canada recognizes that UNRWA operates in a highly volatile and fragile environment, where political actions and violent conflict often place limitations on the delivery of its services. Global Affairs Canada also notes that UNRWA is dependent on voluntary contributions provided by UN member states for the majority of its funding, which leads to fluctuations outside of UNRWA’s control. Therefore, Global Affairs Canada will review UNRWA’s performance against identified indicators in light of these constraints.

6. Canadian Anti-Terrorism Legislation Requirements

Canada and UNRWA share concerns about the threat of terrorism, including within the context of the United Nations’ firm commitment to counter terrorism.

UNRWA is committed to taking all possible measures to ensure that funding provided by Global Affairs Canada to UNRWA is not used to provide assistance to, or otherwise support, terrorists or terrorist organizations designated as such on the UN Security Council Consolidated Sanctions List. Global Affairs Canada expects UNRWA to maintain constant vigilance in its efforts and actions. The attached Annex outlines key activities related to Global Affairs Canada’s expectations in this regard.

Canada recognizes that UNRWA has specific rules, policies, and a regulatory framework on neutrality. Likewise, UNRWA recognizes that Canada has specific anti-terrorism legislation requirements and that Global Affairs Canada seeks to fulfill its national obligations on anti-terrorism through specific provisions in financial instruments.

7. Continued Collaboration

In the interest of meeting the goals and achieving the results outlined under this Framework for Cooperation, Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA remain committed to continuous information sharing, cooperation, and collaboration at all levels.

Canada will take an active role in UNRWA’s Advisory Commission, which typically meets twice annually, and aims to provide advice and guidance to UNRWA through its engagement at meetings of the Advisory Commission. Engagement in the Advisory Commission will present the opportunity for Canada to advance and steer ongoing reforms related to governance, effectiveness, and financial administration. Likewise, and consistent with principles of good humanitarian donorship, Canada’s participation will allow for oversight and influence on key issues and any concerns that may arise. Through this participation, Canada will also add its voice to insist upon high standards for monitoring and evaluation of UNRWA programs and strategically engage to further strengthen UNRWA’s approach to gender equality and environmental sustainability.

Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA will participate in regular consultations and communications. Canadian officials at the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah will have ongoing engagement with UNRWA staff in Jerusalem, while Canadian officials in Ottawa will have ongoing engagement with UNRWA staff in Washington D.C. and New York City. Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA agree to quarterly meetings at the officer level in Jerusalem/Ramallah, and the provision for regular senior level meetings. Representatives of UNRWA can be expected to be invited to make appearances in Ottawa before Parliamentarians and community groups.

Signed on 4 April, 2017.



_____________________________
Pierre Krähenbühl
Commissioner General
United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East

_____________________________
Peter M. Boehm
Deputy Minister of
International Development
Global Affairs Canada

Annex: Activities related to Global Affairs Canada’s enhanced due diligence process and neutrality expectations

 Documentation reference
General Activities
1. Commitment by UNRWA to conform to, in line with UN resolutions and UNRWA’s regulatory framework, conditions on Canadian funding as outlined in grant arrangements between UNRWA and Global Affairs Canada. 
2. Mutual commitment to hold quarterly meetings at the officer level in Jerusalem/Ramallah between Global Affairs Canada and UNRWA for ongoing engagement on key issues. 
3. Commitment by UNRWA to make senior officials available for annual appearances in Ottawa to before Parliamentarians and community groups. 
Neutrality of staff/personnel
4. Checks conducted and documented by UNRWA of all staff against the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanction List once every six months. 
5. Provision of lists of UNRWA staff members to host governments, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel on an annual basis and other UN member states upon request. 
6. Communication to staff about appropriate behaviour in line with UNRWA’s neutrality guidelines at least once every year in each of UNRWA’s five fields of operation. 
7. Consistent with appropriate procedural safeguards, initiation of investigations upon receipt of credible information about alleged staff/personnel misconduct. 
8. Commitment by UNRWA for clear and consistent administrative and disciplinary action, in line with UNRWA’s policies and consistent with appropriate procedural safeguards including due process rights, when staff/personnel are found to be in violation of UNRWA’s regulatory framework relating to the neutrality of its operations. 
Neutrality of facilities
9. Immediate investigation of incidents of misuse of facilities and immediate steps taken to assure non-recurrence, including, in appropriate cases, through seeking third party assistance. 
Neutrality of sub-implementing partners
10. Checks conducted and documented of all contractors, vendors, and non-state donors against the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List every six months. 
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