The Humanitarian Reform process was initiated in 2005 to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response through greater predictability, accountability, responsibility and partnership. One of its main outcomes was the introduction of the Cluster Approach, which currently comprises eleven thematic clusters/areas of work in humanitarian operations. Each Cluster is led by a Global Cluster Agency Lead, that were agreed to by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Principles.

IOM has played a substantial role in the Cluster Approach, assisting in the development of many of the clusters and cluster strategies.

At the global level, IOM co-leads, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster that supports internally displaced people (IDPs) to access live-saving assistance and to live in safe, dignified and appropriate settings during displacement. IOM leads in situations of natural disaster-induced displacement while UNHCR leads in displacement caused by conflict. IOM also actively participates in the Early Recovery, Emergency Shelter, Health, Logistics and Protection and Shelter Global Clusters.

At the country level, IOM has taken active roles in the clusters both as partners and leads in many emergencies. IOM has taken a lead role in Pakistan (Emergency Shelter), Colombia (Early Recovery with the UN Development Programme), Timor-Leste (CCCM) and South Sudan (CCCM Cluster co-lead and Shelter/NFI Cluster lead), among others.