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Humanitarian standards

Twelve basic rules for humanitarian aid

The charities and Federal Ministries acting together in the "Coordination Committee for Humanitarian Aid" reached agreement on the "Twelve basic rules for humanitarian aid abroad" for their collaboration.

  1. People suffer misery through disasters, wars and crises, which they are not able to deal with themselves. Reducing the misery of these people is the aim of humanitarian aid.
  2. Everyone has the right to humanitarian aid and humanitarian protection, just like there must be a right to provide humanitarian aid and grant humanitarian protection.
  3. Aid and protection are granted without considering race, religion, nationality, political conviction or other distinguishing features. Humanitarian aid must not be made dependent on either political or religious beliefs and it must not promote the latter. The only criterion in considering priorities when providing assistance is the need of the people.
  4. The organisations and state institutions involved in providing aid act in line with their own guidelines and implementation strategies.
  5. They preserve people's dignity when providing their assistance.
  6. They respect the laws and customs of the countries in which they are deployed. Insofar as there are conflicts with provisions of the host country when seeking to provide the best possible assistance, a settlement with regard to the aim of providing humanitarian aid should be borne in mind.
  7. They will support and work with each other as far as possible on measures for humanitarian aid.
  8. The people providing aid undertake to be accountable both to the recipients of the aid as well as the people whose subsidies and donations they accept.
  9. Humanitarian aid is primarily assistance for survival. This includes self-reliance and promotes reducing the likelihood of disasters. It observes development requirements, where necessary.
  10. The organisations and state institutions working on humanitarian aid involve local partners in their planning and measures from the outset.
  11. The recipients of aid are also involved in the organisation and implementation of the measures.
  12. Relief must be deployed as required and should comply with local standards; a decisive factor for the selection and dispatch of relief must be solely the current emergency situation. When obtaining relief, priority should be given to purchasing in the region affected by the emergency situation.

Sphere project: Humanitarian standards

Origin and objective

The Sphere project was established in 1997 by humanitarian non-governmental organisations and the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. It is an initiative, which is now composed of several hundred aid organisations worldwide. The objective of the Sphere project is to improve the quality of humanitarian aid and set minimum standards in disaster relief.
Help manager Karin Settele is a member of the Sphere Board as a representative of Aktion Deutschland Hilft. Help – Assistance towards self-reliance is geared to the core humanitarian standards (CHS) developed by Sphere.
The key components are the nine commitments:

  1. Needs-based aid. Example: After an earthquake, talks with the victims revealed that emergency shelters and the provision of water and sanitary facilities are the most urgent needs.
  2. Effective and timely aid. Example: In a safe location, tents, tarpaulins, construction tools and vouchers for purchasing building materials are distributed as promptly as possible and within a tight timeframe Water installations and latrines are constructed.
  3. No negative effects/local capacities are strengthened through aid. Example: No conflicts arise when the materials are distributed. Using the aid, the victims actively participate in building their emergency shelters, water installations and latrines.
  4. The people affected are accurately informed about the humanitarian response and play an active role in taking decisions. Example: Before distributing provisions and materials, the criteria regarding who is to receive aid is communicated to and agreed on with the people affected.
  5. Complaint management. Example: The humanitarian supplies distributed do not comply with the requirements agreed upon for erecting the appropriate temporary shelters and ensuring water supply. Thanks to an existing mechanism to handle complaints, corresponding action can be taken to provide appropriate aid by distributing additional tarpaulins and additional vouchers for buying building tools.
  6. Coordinated, complementary aid. Example: This is to ensure that the same people who have been affected do not receive the same aid supplies such as tents and tarpaulins from two aid organisations, while people affected in a neighbouring region receive no aid at all.
  7. Improvement over the course of time. Example: The distribution of vouchers to purchase tools was based on the assumption that the necessary supplies for building tools were available on the market. This was only partially the case, however. This implies that a sufficient quantity of building tools has to be made available via other means.
  8. Assistance from competent and well trained aid workers and volunteers. Example: Aid workers and volunteers are trained to determine and analyse the situation and, based on this, to correctly plan and execute the distribution of tents, tarpaulins and vouchers.
  9. Aid organisations should manage their resources effectively and efficiently for the intended purpose. Example: Donations and funding from institutional donors are to be used appropriately and monitored over the entire project cycle on the basis of a project implementation plan. Aid organisations are committed to transparency and, where required, shall produce evidence on the efficient use of the relevant financial resources to the affected people.