Numerous humanitarian agencies have worked collaboratively over the past decade in an attempt to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian actors to their constituents, donors and affected populations in disaster risk reduction, relief and management. This section provides information on these generally accepted international standards.
Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP): ALNAP works to improve humanitarian performance through accountability and learning. It collects many resources such as a database of evaluation reports.
Code of Conduct: The Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief lays down ten points of principle which all humanitarian actors should adhere to in their disaster response work, and goes on to describe the relationships that agencies working in disasters should seek with donor governments, host governments and the UN system.
Core Humanitarian Standards: Previously the Joint Standards Initiative. Since the creation of international standards from the 1990s onwards, there are at least seventy initiatives in existence in the humanitarian sector. Field workers and others have experienced a challenge in combining and implementing the number of standards in an efficient, complementary, and effective way. In response to the perceived confusion, lack of awareness and inconsistent application of standards, three of the leading standards initiatives (Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP), People In Aid and the Sphere Project) have launched a process to seek greater coherence for users of standards, in order to ultimately improve humanitarian action to people affected by disasters. The result of the JSI process was the commitment of HAP and People In Aid and the Sphere Project to develop a Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability.
Launched in December 2014, the Core Humanitarian Standards on Quality and Accountability (CHS) sets out nine commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. It also facilitates greater accountability to communities and people affected by crisis: knowing what humanitarian organisations have committed to will enable them to hold those organisations to account.
Do No Harm: The Do No Harm Project seeks to identify ways that humanitarian and/or development assistance can be given without worsening conflict. The DNH concepts are widely used in the humanitarian and development communities and the project has developed one of the best known tools for Peace and Conflict Impact Analysis: the Do No Harm Framework for Analyzing the Impacts of Assistance on Conflict.
Good Humanitarian Donorship: In 2003 the Government of Sweden convened a meeting to discuss good humanitarian donorship, during which a set of Principles-and-Good-Practice-of-Humanitarian-Donorship was agreed. The 23 Principles and Good Practice defined by the group provide both a framework to guide official humanitarian aid and a mechanism for encouraging greater donor accountability.
Humanitarian Accountability Partnership: The Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) uses seven Principles of Accountability to help make humanitarian action more accountable to it’s intended beneficiaries through self-regulation, compliance verification and quality assurance certification.
International Humanitarian Law: IHL is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
International Disaster Response Law: After years of intensive research and consultation on problems and best practice in the regulation of international disaster relief, the IFRC spearheaded negotiations to develop a new set of international guidelines to help governments strengthen their domestic laws and policies. Using the Guidelines, governments can avoid needless delays in the dissemination of humanitarian relief while at the same time ensuring better coordination and quality of the assistance provided.
Needs Assessment: There is increasing awareness of the need to coordinate the response to humanitarian crises. One outcome of this awareness is the production of guidelines on coordinating the assessment of priorities in humanitarian crises by the Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF) of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. Another organisation which is dedicated to improving the quality and relevance of needs assessments is ACAPS.
People in Aid:The People in Aid Code of Good Practice was designed through collaboration with a wide range of NGOs as a management framework to improve standards, accountability and transparency of human resources management in the Humanitarian Sector amid the challenges of disaster, conflict and poverty.
Sphere Project: The Sphere Project is an initiative to define and uphold the standards by which the global community responds to the plight of people affected by disasters, principally through a set of guidelines that are set out in the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (commonly referred to as the Sphere Handbook).