Home » UN and International Aid and Development Organisations Operating in the DPRK

UN and International Aid and Development Organisations Operating in the DPRK

The United Nations is the major actor in the DPRK in regard to development assistance and humanitarian aid. Its new 2017 Needs and Priorities Plan has been developed by five UN agencies (WFP, WHO, UNICEF, FAO and UNFPA), seven international NGOs (Save the Children, Première Urgence International, Concern Worldwide, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, Triangle Génération Humanitaire, Handicap International and FIDA/FAHRP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The annexes in Part III of the Plan provide some detail on the activities by sector of each of these 13 agencies/organisations. The Plan calls for US$114 million to meet the urgent needs of the 13 million most vulnerable people in the DPRK.

United Nations (UN) Agencies and Organisations

The UN carries out its activities in the country through two separate teams – the UN Country Team (UNCT) and the UN’s Humanitarian Country Team (HCT). These two UN teams have different functions; they coexist but do not replace each other.

UN Country Team (UNCT)

The UN Country Team is led by the Resident Coordinator (RC) and is the principal coordination and decision-making body of  UN agencies that are active in a country. If the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is also involved in that country it will be part of the UNCT too.

The main purpose of the UN Country Team is to facilitate individual UN agencies and the IOM in planning and working together to ensure the delivery of tangible results in support of the development agenda. In countries where there is no on-going humanitarian emergency, the UNCT, under the leadership of the RC, is responsible for preparedness and contingency planning by UN agencies at country level.

In the DPRK the UN Country Team comprises six resident UN agencies:

  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  2. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  3. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  4. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  5. World Food Programme (WFP)
  6. World Health Organization (WHO)

UN’s Humanitarian Country Team (HCT)

The Humanitarian Country Team is established and led by the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). This role is not to be confused with the UN’s Resident Coordinator (RC).

The HCT leads and coordinates international humanitarian assistance in the country by both UN agencies and NGOs in support of existing national efforts. It is a strategic and operational decision-making and oversight body.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs also carries the title of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). In this role, the ERC coordinates the international response to humanitarian emergencies and disasters.

In a country affected by a disaster or conflict or where, like DPRK, it is in the midst of a protracted, entrenched humanitarian situation further exacerbated by frequent natural disasters, especially floods and drought, the ERC may appoint a Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) to ensure response efforts are well organised. As already noted, the HC works with government, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and affected communities.

It can thus be seen that, unlike the UNCT, the HCT is not an inclusive forum but rather includes only operationally relevant agencies, be they UN agencies, funds and programmes, IOM, international and national NGOs, or the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement.

The HCT is responsible for agreeing on common strategic issues related to humanitarian action. In the absence of a designated HC to lead the HCT, and in case of a humanitarian emergency, the UN’s Resident Coordinator (RC) is responsible for setting up and regularly convening an HCT, inclusive of all operationally relevant actors, including non-UN agencies/organisations.

An important function of the Humanitarian Country Team in DPRK is to issue an annual “Needs and Priorities” document that provides a strategic overview of the primary needs and joint response as identified by the HCT. The report has a particular focus on the needs of the most vulnerable including children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Thirteen organisations were involved in the development of the 2017 document (see below) including five UN agencies, seven international NGOs, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The 2017 DPRK Needs and Priorities document can be downloaded as a PDF file from here.

Non-UN Organisations

The following is a list of international agencies and organisations, resident and non-resident, known to have operated in the DPRK. Unless otherwise stated, they are still operating in the country as of December 2017, even if only on an intermittent basis.

The Glossary on the NKhumanitarian site provides some useful background information.

Resident International Agencies/NGOs

European Union Support Units

Note: As per the agreement between the European Commission and the Government of DPRK regarding the DPRK Food Security Thematic Programme, “EU-supported NGOs who have an office in the DPRK are established, and referred to as, European Union Project Support (EUPS) units”.

Other (resident) agencies/NGOs

Red Cross Movement

Resident Bilateral/Governmental Missions

Non-Resident International Agencies/NGOs

Non-Resident Inter-governmental

Last updated 20 December 2017

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