Humanitarians launch updated disaster relief standards
The Sphere Project, a leading initiative promoting quality and accountability in humanitarian work, released the revised English version of its handbook Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response today. The launch is taking place in a dozen countries around the world.
According to ERC Valerie Amos, Sphere standards are “the benchmark for ensuring humane and fair humanitarian assistance to people in need around the world.” The Sphere Handbook offers a common language and guidance for effective and accountable humanitarian response and advocacy worldwide. It reinforces the capacity of local humanitarian actors by prioritizing understanding and support of local responses. Over 650 experts from about 20 countries worked to revise the handbook for the 2011 edition, and all relevant UN agencies also participated.
The 2011 edition incorporates a new chapter entitled “Protection Principles”, which will address protecting populations affected by disaster or armed conflict as an integral part of humanitarian response. This edition also addresses climate change, disaster risk reduction, early recovery of services and livelihoods, cash transfer and civil-military relations. The cornerstone of the Handbook, the Humanitarian Charter, has been rewritten in clearer language with stronger connection to the established standards of humanitarian planning and implementation.
“I hope that all organizations that provide humanitarian aid will become familiar with the standards and use them,” said ERC Amos. “This will improve the quality of humanitarian assistance to survivors of disasters and conflicts.”
The Sphere Project was created by a group of humanitarian NGOs and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement with its first handbook published in 2000. Training on Sphere principles and standards reached over 7,000 humanitarian workers in 2010 alone. The Sphere Handbook has been translated into more than 40 languages and is now the most widely known internationally recognized set of standards for humanitarian response.