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Project Launch: Humanitarian Standards

Today we are launching our partnership with the Sphere Project, creating cartoons to promote a series of humanitarian principles and minimum standards in key areas of humanitarian aid. Contributions can be found in our project newsroom. Help us decide the best cartoons by voting for your favorite(s).

The cartoons will focus on the Humanitarian Charter:

The Humanitarian Charter provides the legal and ethical backdrop to the principles and standards contained in the Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.

As a statement of legal rights and obligations, it summarises the core legal principles that have most bearing on the welfare of those affected by disaster or conflict.  As a statement of shared belief, it attempts to capture a consensus among humanitarian agencies as to the principles which should govern the response to disaster or conflict.
The cartoons should focus on any of the following Humanitarian Charter’s key messages (the first message may of course be split into its components for the purpose of developing cartoons):

People affected by disaster or conflict have the following rights:
the right to life with dignity.
the right to receive humanitarian assistance.
the right to protection and security.

These rights derive from the humanitarian imperative – which establishes that action should be taken to prevent or alleviate human suffering arising from disaster or conflict – and from provisions of international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law.

Dignity entails more than physical well-being; it demands respect for the whole person, including the values and beliefs of individuals and affected communities.

The right to receive humanitarian assistance encompasses the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, water, sanitation, clothing, shelter and healthcare.  Any such assistance must be provided according to the principle of impartiality, which requires that it be provided solely on the basis of need and in proportion to need.

It is first and foremost the responsibility of the state to protect all those within its jurisdiction, including refugees and internally displaced persons. When the state is unable or unwilling to do so, humanitarian agencies may fill the gap.

Some people may be particularly vulnerable – due to their status such as age, gender, disability, race, etcetera – and may require special measures of protection and assistance.

People affected by disaster or conflict must be at the centre of humanitarian relief.

It is firstly through their own efforts, and through the support of community and local organizations, that the basic needs of people affected by disaster or conflict are met.  The active participation of the affected population is essential to providing assistance in ways that best meet their needs. Humanitarian agencies should support local efforts and reinforce the capacities of local actors.

Humanitarian agencies should aim to minimise any negative effects of their action.

Humanitarian assistance may sometimes have unintended adverse effects on the local community or on the environment.  Working with affected communities and authorities, humanitarian agencies aim to recognise and minimise any such negative effects. In situations of conflict they strive not to make people vulnerable to attack or to fuel the conflict.

The fundamental accountability of humanitarian agencies is to those they seek to assist.

Humanitarian agencies advocate that states and other parties meet their moral and legal obligations towards affected populations.  They also undertake to make their work more effective, appropriate and accountable through transparency of information and decision-making and through coordination and collaboration with other relevant actors. 

The Humanitarian Charter is available online in Arabic , English , French and Spanish.


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