In early 1997, the Executive Committee of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) saw no other solution to the organisations financial crisis than suggest to its membership to close ICVA down. But this proposal was opposed by a significant majority of the ICVA membership who asked for a restructured ICVA instead of a closure.
Backing up this proposal, ICVA received substantial moral and financial support from individual member organisations, UN friends, governments and others. The Executive Committee accepted this change of approach and in January 1998 elected new leadership: Mr. Anders Ladekarl from the Danish Refugee Council as the new Chair of the Executive Committee and Mrs. Roswithe Dinger of the Lutheran World Federation as Treasurer. Following the elections, Mr. Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop (formerly with MSF-Holland) was employed as the new Co-ordinator.
Over the last six months, the process of restructuring has taken off. The aim is to develop a new organisation that effectively can fulfil its potential role as a representative and a facilitator for co-ordination and networking among humanitarian NGOs. In particular, stronger links are being formed with organisations from developing countries.
While not excluding sustainable development, the focus of ICVA shall be on humanitarian affairs in the broadest sense, including rehabilitation and reconstruction. ICVA will endeavour to play a strong advocacy role on humanitarian principles and issues on behalf of membership in fora such as the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee and UNHCRs Executive Committee. ICVA also intends to work closely together with other NGO networks such as the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) and the European and American networks, VOICE and InterAction.
ICVA is committed to serving its membership. ICVA now have 84 members of which many are umbrella structures, such as the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), InterAction and CARE International. Fifty-two members are organisations based in the south. Only three members have left ICVA in the past difficult year, while five new organisations have joined. The Secretariat was recently moved to new premises and has at the same time been streamlined staff and size-wise. More use will be made of modern communication techniques such as e-mail so that there is an easier exchange of information and consultation process with the membership.
ICVA does not intend to start new field-based projects. Member organisations, however, will be asked to lead ICVA initiatives and form consortia such as the ICVA Consortia in former Yugoslavia and Guatemala.
It is clear that a lot of time and energy is needed before ICVA will be able to fully meet expectations, but members are encouraged to contact the Secretariat for an update and to discuss its new focus and structure.
For more information on ICVA, contact the secretariat at a new address:
48, chemin du Grand-Montfleury
1290 Versoix, Switzerland
Tel + 41 22 950 9600
Fax +41 22 950 9609