Join the Forum : World Humanitarian Day- 19 August
Watch Observance of the World Humanitarian Day 2013 around the World.
What are Humanitarian Principles?
All OCHA activities are guided by The four humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. These principles provide the foundations for humanitarian action. They are central to establishing and maintaining access to affected people, whether in a natural disaster or a complex emergency, such as armed conflict. Promoting and ensuring compliance with the principles are essential elements of effective humanitarian coordination. The humanitarian principles are derived from the core principles, which have long guided the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the national Red Cross/RedCrescent Societies.The principles’ centrality to the work of OCHA and other humanitarian organizations is formally enshrined in two General Assembly resolutions. The first three principles (humanity,neutrality and impartiality) are endorsed in General Assembly resolution 46/182, which was adopted in 1991. This resolution also established the role of the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC).General Assembly resolution 58/114 (2004) added independence as a fourth key principle underlying humanitarian action.
The General Assembly has repeatedly reaffirmed the importance of promoting and respecting these principles within the framework of humanitarian assistance.
Commitment to the principles has also been expressed at an institutional level by many humanitarian organizations. Of particular note is the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and non-governmental organizations in disaster relief. The code provides a set of common standards for organizations involved in humanitarian activities, including a commitment to adhere to the humanitarian principles. More than 492 organizations have signed The Code of Conduct. Also of note is the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response elaborated by the Sphere Project.The humanitarian principles have practical operational relevance. Humanitarian action almost always takes place in complex politicaland militarized environments. Adherence to the principles is therefore critical in order to distinguish humanitarian action from the activities and objectives of political, military and other actors. Promoting humanitarian principles and, importantly, ensuring that humanitarian organizations act in accordance with them are key to gaining acceptance by all relevant actors on the ground for humanitarian action to be carried out. This acceptance is critical to ensuring humanitarian personnel have safe and sustained access to affected people. Sustained access is, in turn, crucial for strengthening the implementation of the humanitarian principles. For example, it allows humanitarian actors to directly undertake and monitor the distribution of assistance to people, thus ensuring that aid is distributed impartially and reaches those most in need.
What is OCHA’s role?OCHA’s mission is to mobilize and coordinate principled humanitarian action. OCHA promotes the humanitarian community’s compliance with humanitarian principles in every humanitarian response. It does this by promoting practical compliance measures within a Humanitarian Country Team through its engagement with State and non-state actors at all levels,and by undertaking and contributing to policy development within the United Nations.
What does OCHA say?1. Humanitarian principles govern humanitarian actors’conduct.
2. Humanitarian actors must engage in dialogue with all parties to conflict for strictly humanitarian purposes.This includes ongoing liaison and negotiation with non-state armed groups.
3.Our compliance with humanitarian principles affects our credibility, and therefore our ability to enter into negotiations with relevant actors and establish safe access to affected people. However, it is not enough to repeatedly recite humanitarian principles. Rhetoric must be matched by leadership and practice. In other words, humanitarian actors must “walk the talk”.
4. There are multiple pressures on humanitarian actors to compromise humanitarian principles, such as providing humanitarian aid as part of efforts to achieve political ends. Maintaining principled humanitarian action in the face of these pressures is an essential task, but not an easy one.