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About the Standby Partnership Network

The Network

Standby Partnership Programme Mechanism

The Standby Partnership Programme mechanism (SBP mechanism) provides surge capacity support to UN Agencies responding to humanitarian emergencies through the secondment of gratis/in-kind “experts on mission” by external partner organisations. The SBP mechanism functions through a series of bilateral agreements between participating UN Agencies, UNOCHA and a number of surge providers (Standby Partners) that are composed of a diverse group of NGOs, donors, private sectors, foundations and government agencies. 


The SBP mechanism began during the first Iraq war in 1991, when the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and  Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) responded to a request for surge personnel from UNHCR. 


Over the last 29 years since, the SBP mechanism has expanded considerably by gaining new participating UN Agencies, UNOCHA and Standby Partners that covers over 400 expert profiles. Currently, there are 15 participating UN Agencies, along with 54 Standby Partners that share a Memorandum of Understanding. In 2019 alone, the Standby Partners contributed to XX deployments to XX countries in response to XX requests from XX UN Agencies providing a value of US$XX million dollars in XX emergencies.


Overview of Our Members


The Standby Partnership Network (SBP Network) began in 2013 as an initiative of organisations from the SBP mechanism in order to provide “high quality personnel consistently available for support to humanitarian action through organisational engagement and collective preparedness.”  Currently, the SBP Network engages with its members on a membership basis to which any organization acting as a Standby Partner to a participating UN Agency and/or UNOCHA is automatically included. 

In the SBP Network, we currently have 15 participating UN Agencies and 54 Standby Partners that regularly contribute to the SBP Network initiatives through in-kind and financial support, and/or through their participation in the Working Groups, the Steering Committee, and engagement with the Secretariat members. 

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Standby Partnership Network Vision Statement

“High quality personnel consistently available for support to humanitarian action through organisational engagement and collective preparedness.” – Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022

From 2013 – 2019, this initiative focused on professional training through the establishment of the Standby Partnership Training Secretariat. The strength of collaboration and partnership of the SBP Network saw the development and delivery of the SBP Network Common Induction Training Package.

From 2018, various consultations were held to expand the portfolios and the role of the SBP Network initiative to assist in targeted operational focus through identification of key priority areas that support the operational elements of the SBP Mechanism.

In late 2019, discussions led to the development of the Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022 (the Strategy). The Strategy for the first time attempts to improve the work of the SBP mechanism by focusing and building expertise in three priority areas which were agreed by the SBP Network members.

1. Ensuring a suitable quantity of available personnel to respond to identified needs.

2. Strengthening the quality of deployees’ skills to compensate for gaps in UN agencies’ response through training and other means.

3. Maintaining and enhancing coordination across the Network to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the combined efforts of all SBP members.

To achieve these priorities and the vision of the SBP Network, the Strategy provides guidance on the new governance structure and functions of the SBP Network, commencing with the onboarding of the SBP Network Coordinator and Monitoring, Evaluation, Assessment and Learning Coordinator in the Secretariat to complement and assist in the work of the SBP Network members in 2020.

SBP Network

“The purpose of the network is to foster the implementation of best practices and new solutions to improve preparedness and response capacity and the care of the deployment personnel through collectively engaging the knowledge, skills, experience and unified voice of the network.”

– Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022

The Strategy outlined the requirement to create a robust governance and coordination structure to strengthen coherence and coordination of the SBP Network. Part of this evaluation determined the need of the SBP Steering Committee (SC) to provide leadership, the requirement of Working Groups that engage regularly to address common operational challenges through collaborative efforts, and the Secretariat to support and consult regularly with SBP Network members and drive the key workflow necessary for the SBP Network.


Standby Partnership Network Steering Committee

The SBP Steering Committee (SC) has been formed with the purpose and the mandate to determine the direction and development of the SBP Network. Members of the Steering Committee meet once a month. Its role is to streamline the SBP Network strategies and decisions whislt providing continuous oversight of the implementation of activities in line with the Strategy on behalf of all members.

Objectives of the Steering Committee are to provide:

1. Strategic direction

2. Operational support and supervision of the Secretariat staff

3. Financial oversight

4. Advocacy and resource mobilisation

The composition of the SC is configured to ensure cross-representation of participating UN Agencies and Standby Partners. It is comprised of three Standby Partners, two UN Agencies, the Chair of the Learning Working Group (LWG), the Chair of the Duty of Care Working Group (DoCWG), and the Monitoring, Evaluation, Assessment and Learning Working Group (MEALWG).

In 2020, the Steering Committee is led by co-Chairs of one UN Agency and one Standby Partner.


SBP Network Steering Committee Members:


Standby Partnership Network Working Groups

Working Groups are formed and designed on discretion by the SBP Network members when there is a collective agreement to address common issue/s or challenges that affect operational outcomes. Once the theme/topic is agreed, a Working Group is formed with committed participation from members on a voluntary basis. Led by the Chair of the Working Group, the members collectively agree on a Terms of Reference, and develop several Work Streams.

Learning Working Group

The Training Working Group was activated to continue the work of the Training Secretariat from 2020. Discussions within the Training Working Group in its inaugural meeting in May 2020 identified an acknowledgement of professional shift from “training” that focussed on developing specific skills concentrating on formal education to “learning” that focussed on a holistic approach to how people learn more effectively in the wider context. The change to the “Learning Working Group” aims to reflect the current needs and its link to the learning component of the MEAL Working Group.


There are currently three workstreams (Common Induction Training Package, Applying Operational Lessons, Compendium of Resources) focusing on different areas with an underpinning purpose of mapping, guiding and recommending best practices in learning, training and development across the SBP to support the deployment of appropriately trained personnel.

Currently, 11 organisations are contributing to the Learning Working Group.

Duty of Care Working Group

The Duty of Care Working Group (DoCWG) aims to map and recommend best practices across the standby partnership, which will assist agencies to adjust and implement clear and mutually equitable policies and practices in relation to duty of care of deployees. Given the tripartite relationship between the deploying standby partner organization, the receiving UN agency and the Expert on Mission themselves, the DoCWG will consider specific implications for the Standby Network and the UN to build a culture of addressing the health, safety, security and wellbeing of their employees/deployees. 


The DoC WG has a number of running workstreams, including on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, as well as representing standby deployees and in-kind personnel in inter-agency fora such as the High Level Committee on Management (HLCM) Duty of Care Taskforce. The DoC WG has produced a Resource Compendium for deploying organizations and receiving UN agencies that outlines duty of care guidelines, standards and policies, and has useful tools, case studies and best practice. It covers topics such as: medical, insurance, contracting, preparation and training, in country briefings, security, psychosocial support and debriefing, as well as specific guidance on deploying and remote deployments during COVID-19. 

Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Working Group 

Historically, the SBP Network had already conducted two MEAL missions / After Action Reviews and many organisations in the SBP Network have already conducted MEAL activities. The MEAL Working Group was recently formed to build on these activities. Its inaugural meeting occurred in May 2020. Its aim is to systematically utilise some of the evidence which have already been gathered to inform and impact the work of the SBP Network. It also generates new evidence and intends to learn from good practices to influence on how the Network supports humanitarian action and to feed into the other Working Groups where relevant creating synergy that will assist in the impact of the SBP Network.

Currently, 15 organisations are contributing to the MEAL Working Group


What is an Active Member?

An Active Member in the SBP Network provides opportunities for further engagement and means to support members’ internal priorities through services provided by the Secretariat and the collective.

During the Annual Consultation in June 2020, SBP Network members agreed on the following definition:

In order to be considered an Active Member* of the SBP Network, members must have at least one non-expired bilateral Memorandum of Understanding or Standby Agreement with a participating UN Agency under the Standby Partnership Programme and engage with the SBP Network through at least one of the following activities to implement the Principles outlined in the SBP Network Strategic Framework 2020 – 2022.


1) Contribution to the SBP Network – In-kind** or financial. 2) Participation and active engagement in at least one of the existing Working Groups. 3) Participation in the Steering Committee. 4) Active participation and engagement at the Annual Consultation and Mid-Annual Consultation (including virtual meetings). 5) Participation by provision of knowledge and experience through information sharing, consultation with the SBP Network Secretariat members and engagement on the Mobilize platform.

*Services provided to an Active Member:

i) Voting rights to items addressed at the Mid-Annual Consultation and Annual Consultation that direct the work of the SBP Network.

ii) Support from the SBP Network Coordinator on services directly related to information sharing, advocacy and implementation of humanitarian training programmes.

iii) Support from the SBP MEAL Coordinator on services directly related to opportunities for common evidence gathering and reporting on the results of deployments to specific emergencies.

iv) Inclusion of Active Member’s standby statistics that are published and presented publicly to support advocacy, promotions and information sharing initiatives.

**In-kind contribution refers to any capacity and/or capability and/or logistics support provided to the SBP Network at no cost to enable the work of the SBP Network.

A list of Active Members will be maintained by the SBP Network Secretariat with a formal review conducted bi-annually two months prior to scheduled Mid-Annual Consultation and Annual Consultation.”


The Standby Partnership (SBP) Network is  an initiative composed of participating Donors, Non-Profit Organizations, Private Sector Companies and UN agencies providing critical surge support in humanitarian crisis and emergencies globally.

with support from :

© 2020 by Standby Partnership Network

with support from Help.NGO | Map Action | ZIF Center for International Peace Operations

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