Accepted Paper:

Nora's new job: UN coordination in practice  


Tim Allen (LSE)
Leila Hoda (London School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

Fieldwork was carried out in northern Uganda. UNDP has been appointed the ‘cluster lead’ UN agency for 'early recovery’, directly threatening established procedures. To disguise the identity of informants, findings are presented as a fictional account.

Paper long abstract:

There has been growing pressure on the UN to improve its accountability mechanisms, and in particular to avoid direct competition and conflict between its own agencies. The new cluster arrangements are supposed to address the issue. Individual agencies have been allocated 'cluster lead roles' for specific situations, and funding from donors is supposed to be channelled through them. UNDP has been appointed cluster lead for 'early recovery' in circumstances of war to peace transition. The idea is that, where there is an anticipated shift from humanitarian assistance to development assistance, UNDP will coordinate UNHCR, WFP, WHO, and UNCEF, as well as all the other locally operational aid agencies. It directly challenges established arrangements, and there are far reaching implications. This paper overviews the experiences of a young woman who is appointed to be an early recovery adviser, and is based on fieldwork within a UN agency. Due to the sensitivity of the material, and to disguise the identity of informants the ethnography is presented as a fictional account.

Panel W019
The anthropology of the United Nations