The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance. It is a unique forum involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners. The IASC was established in June 1992 in response to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182 on the strengthening of humanitarian assistance.
According to General Assembly Resolution 46/182, the IASC should be composed of "all operational organizations and with a standing invitation to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Organization for Migration. Relevant non-governmental organizations can be invited to participate on an ad hoc basis."
The members of the IASC are the heads or their designated representatives of the UN operational agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, FAO, WHO, UN-HABITAT, OCHA and IOM). In addition, there is a standing invitation to ICRC , IFRC, OHCHR, UNFPA, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs and the World Bank. The NGO consortia ICVA, InterAction and SCHR are also invited on a permanent basis to attend. The IASC is chaired by the ERC.
In practice, no distinction is made between "Members" and "Standing Invitees" and the number of participating agencies has expanded since inception of the IASC in 1992.
In fact, the strength and added value of the IASC lies in its broad membership, bringing together all key humanitarian actors.
With regard to IASC membership, "operational" is defined as having the following characteristics:
- Provision of humanitarian assistance: protection or material aid
- Deployment of staff to assist affected populations with immediate needs
The IASC's overall objective is inclusive coordination, while maintaining a relatively limited number of "members" to ensure functionality and focus.
Membership is subject to a continuous review, and new members are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Organisations aspiring to become members are encouraged to contribute to the work of Subsidiary Bodies in their area of specialization. Thereby, they can demonstrate their real commitment and potential contribution to the IASC.