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Committee Mandates

International Development written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the mandate of the Committee on Implementation of Humanitarian Aid Operations is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development

The European Union's mandate to The European Community Humanitarian Organisation (as set out in Regulation (CE) No. 1257/96) is to provide emergency assistance and relief to the victims of natural disasters or armed conflict outside the European Union.

The Humanitarian Aid Committee (HAC) meets on average once a month, excluding August (and often December). In addition to this, each presidency usually holds an informal HAC to discuss issues of substance in more detail. Including both formal and informal HACs there have been 12 meetings over the last 12 months. The UK is represented by officials from the Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department, DFID. The annual cost to public funds of the Committee's work is approximately £5,000.

Items due for discussion at the next HAC on 23 May include the Global Plan 2002 for Sahrawi Refugees in Algeria, a report on ECHO's recent evaluation of UNHCR activities, a report on the recent ECHO Mission to Zimbabwe, and the Commission's non-paper on the interplay between Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid in crisis situations.

Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to

"simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission".

As an obligation to this Decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Com (2001) 783 Final. As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.

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