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Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (Updated Guidance Notes and Indicators 2018)

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Every day all over the world, countless people from all walks of life are moved to act in response to the humanitarian imperative – the desire to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it happens.

The Core Humanitarian Standard 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.

The CHS places communities and people affected by crisis at the centre of humanitarian action and promotes respect for their fundamental human rights. It is underpinned by the right to life with dignity, and the right to protection and security as set forth in international law, including within the International Bill of Human Rights. These rights are also spelled out in Sphere’s Humanitarian Charter.

As a core standard, the CHS describes the essential elements of principled, accountable and high-quality humanitarian action. Humanitarian organisations may use it as a voluntary code with which to align their own internal procedures. It can also be used as a basis for verification of performance, for which a specific framework and associated indicators have been developed to ensure its relevance to different contexts and types of organisation. Furthermore, as a foundation chapter to the Sphere 2018 Handbook, the CHS supports technical response activities. It is also the foundation standard for the Standards Handbooks under the Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP).

The CHS can be promoted and implemented by individuals, organisations, coordinating bodies, consortia and other groups undertaking or contributing to humanitarian action. Although primarily intended for the humanitarian sector, the CHS can be used by any organisation to bring better quality and greater accountability to all aspects of its work with communities and people affected by crisis.

The CHS is the result of a global consultation process. It draws together key elements of existing humanitarian standards and commitments. These include but are not limited to:

  • The Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief;

  • The 2010 HAP Standard in Accountability and Quality Management;

  • The People In Aid Code of Good Practice in the Management and Support of Aid Personnel;

  • The Sphere Handbook Core Standards, the Protection Principles and the Humanitarian Charter;

  • The Groupe URD Quality COMPAS;

  • The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Commitments on Accountability to Affected People/Populations (CAAPs); and

  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Criteria for Evaluating Development and Humanitarian Assistance.