Framework for Cooperation between Global Affairs Canada and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
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:
- Efficient and effective delivery of basic education, health, and social services to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees, as well as the protection of Palestine refugees, as articulated in UNRWA’s 2016-2021 Medium Term Strategy;
- Continued provision of emergency assistance to Palestine refugees impacted by the Syria Regional Crisis;
- Conformance with the conditions on Canadian funding as to be agreed between UNRWA and Global Affairs Canada, including those related to anti-terrorism provisions;
- Ensuring continued respect for UN humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and operational independence, and UN values;
- Improved financial stability of the Agency through complementary efforts to implement concrete and lasting measures to control and contain the growth of UNRWA’s core costs and, together with UNRWA and other donors, efforts to mobilize additional resources;
- Continued commitment by UNRWA to report on results, especially those related to gender equality and activities that target the empowerment of women and girls.
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:
- Continued progress toward increased budget clarity and improved targeting and prioritization within UNRWA’s budgeting process;
- Ongoing curriculum review process, which enables UNRWA’s educators to use consistent criteria in analyzing and enriching Host Government textbooks, in order to promote UN values and principles in UNRWA classrooms;
- Continued efforts to ensure inclusion of gender, gender equality, gender-based violence (GBV), and disability considerations and analysis in program design and implementation, particularly in UNRWA’s emergency response programming;
- Continued tracking of and transparency with regards to implementation of recommendations made via internal UNRWA audits and evaluations, as well as recommendations made by the UN Board of Auditors (UNBOA);
- Continued efforts to ensure neutrality of UNRWA operations in accordance with the Agency’s regulatory framework and policies governing the neutrality of UNRWA operations and related monitoring and reporting.
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:
- Ensure that UNRWA is able to address cases of inappropriate social media use in accordance with the Agency’s regulatory framework;
- Strengthen the capacity of UNRWA staff to conduct investigations into credible allegations of misconduct by UNRWA personnel, including for alleged violations of UNRWA policies on neutrality, and consistent application of UNRWA policies regarding completion of such investigations;
- Levy clear and consistent administrative or disciplinary action, consistent with appropriate procedural safeguards, in response to those cases in which personnel have been found to be in violation of UNRWA’s regulatory framework;
- Provide new and continued training of UNRWA personnel on the importance of UNRWA’s neutrality, including through: induction courses for new employees, in-person training and workshops, continued implementation of UNRWA’s e-ethics course, and e-training on UNRWA’s policy on social media use by UNRWA personnel;
- Continue to work to review and enrich host country curricula to ensure it supports the learning of the Palestine refugee students and is in line with UN values and principles, including those that relate to neutrality. UNRWA pursues appropriate solutions where potential issues are found or raised.
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.
- Mainstreamed neutrality activities: Canada will contribute to activities that support neutrality in UNRWA installations; review and enrich host country curricula; neutrality-related investigations; and compliance with UNRWA’s regulatory framework. These activities, taken together, will benefit all of UNRWA’s more than 30,000 national staff located in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank.
- New initiatives: Canada will contribute towards social media training for staff being implemented in 2017. The training will focus on UN neutrality principles and will reach 3,000 senior area staff and staff with supervisory responsibility for at least one other staff member across UNRWA’s area of operations.
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.
- Respecting the principles of aid effectiveness, Global Affairs Canada believes that UNRWA’s standardized reporting in the UNRWA Annual Operational Report would satisfy the majority of Canadian narrative and financial reporting requirements related to funding to the Programme Budget. The UNRWA Annual Operational Report is issued within six months of the end of UNRWA’s calendar year of activities. Global Affairs Canada welcomes UNRWA’s invitation to donors to comment on UNRWA’s reporting tools.
- Regarding Canadian funding to Emergency Appeals, UNRWA is expected to provide a final report outlining results achieved to be submitted within six months of the end of that Appeals’ activities. In line with Good Humanitarian Donorship principles, Global Affairs Canada will be satisfied to receive reports as shared with other donors.
- UNRWA is expected to provide the United Nations Board of Auditors (UNBOA) annual financial report and audited financial statement covering Programme Budget activities, issued within six months of the end of UNRWA’s calendar year of activities. Likewise, where Canadian funding is used for project-specific purposes, Global Affairs Canada expects a financial report with reference to how Canadian funds were spent.
- Regarding Canadian funding towards mainstreamed neutrality activities, UNRWA’s Annual Operational Report is expected to report on results achieved by those activities. In addition, on an exceptional basis for 2017, UNRWA will provide Global Affairs Canada with a separate note reporting on progress towards: (1) outreach related to protecting neutrality, for example briefings to staff, community, and media; (2) trainings provided related to neutrality; and (3) checks against the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanction List.
- Regarding Canadian funding to new social media initiatives, UNRWA is expected to provide an interim briefing to Global Affairs Canada officials by April 5, 2017 on progress towards achieving the targets. This would include reporting on indicators such as: (1) the number of people trained on neutrality, with a target of 3,000; (2) the pass rate of staff on a quiz directly following the training; (3) the results of evaluations conducted two months after training to determine staff behavioural changes. UNRWA will also provide a full, final report in September 2017.
- Global Affairs Canada expects all UNRWA reporting to reflect gender equality results, including, but not limited to, sex-disaggregated data, and results reporting on programming targeted at women and girls. Global Affairs Canada also expects UNRWA reporting to demonstrate that gender equality considerations have been built into planning and design of programming (including consultation/participation of women and girls).
- Global Affairs Canada expects UNRWA to provide information regarding environmental considerations in the implementation of its activities.
- UNRWA’s Annual Operational Reports and Emergency Appeal Reports are publicly available. With regards to other reports shared by UNRWA that Global Affairs Canada may wish to make public, Global Affairs Canada will consult with UNRWA and any such publication shall be subject to UNRWA’s prior approval, which shall not be unreasonably withheld.
- It is Global Affairs Canada’s expectation that its officials will participate in ongoing monitoring activities, including in joint and independent site visits to UNRWA programming and facilities, subject always to prior coordination with and approval by UNRWA.
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.
United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East
Peter M. Boehm
Deputy Minister of
Global Affairs Canada
Annex: Activities related to Global Affairs Canada’s enhanced due diligence process and neutrality expectations
|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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