The Treaty of Lisbon” assigned the “European Commission” with the set-up of a “European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps“, which quickly became a priority for the “Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection“, Kristalina Georgieva. After two rounds of public consultations with humanitarian stakeholders, the Commission has identified areas where the Corps could bring added value: recruitment of volunteers, training, standardization, and deployment. As a result, the European Commission is launching a pilot project that will select, train and deploy the first team of volunteers.
The humanitarian sector suffers from problems of coordination and coherence rather than lack of resources. Also, a major obstacle in humanitarian personnel management is increasing insecurity, high turnover, and the flood of volunteers mostly driven by collective solidarity rather than professionalism. But unskilled volunteers ‘that want to make a difference’ often ignore that the number of attacks directed against aid workers has risen steeply over the past years. In 2008 alone, 260 humanitarian aid workers were killed, kidnapped or seriously injured (ODI, 2009).
Participants in the consultations credit the Corps with the mandate to boost professionalism and safety as well as coordination in humanitarian assistance. To this effect, the Commissioner has taken a brave step to ‘regulate’ a dangerous but dynamic labor market.