Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Codes of conduct

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings[1] were published in 2005 to establish standards across all areas of humanitarian response related to preventing and responding to gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence in the early stages of an emergency. The immediate impetus behind the Guidelines stemmed in large part from the failure of humanitarian agencies to institute basic protection against sexual violence in Darfur, with the longer-term goal of establishing essential steps all humanitarian actors could take in their areas of operation to reduce the risk of exposure to GBV. Following publication, the Guidelines were…
In July 2011, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group asked the Task Force on Humanitarian Space and Civil–Military Relations to review and update the IASC Non-binding Guidelines on the Use of Military and Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys (2001). The primary concerns that led to the decision to revise the guidelines were the recognition of a growing reliance on armed escorts, the need to synchronise a more robust decision-making process on the use of armed escorts with the new UN Security Management System (SMS) and inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of the out-of-date guidelines. The revised guidelines, which…
With an annual budget of $650 billion and over two million military and civilian personnel, the US Department of Defense is the largest institution in the world. Since September 2001, its primary focus has been the ‘global war on terror’, a war of avowedly unlimited scope and duration. Its critical components include counter-insurgency and stabilisation operations, which have increasingly involved the US military in relief and development activities. NGOs have struggled to develop a unified response to the growing scope and pace of US military involvement in areas normally reserved for civilian leadership and action. Although regular dialogue has been…
Most international NGOs (INGOs) delivering humanitarian assistance in disrupted societies have yet to design and implement concrete programmes that encourage substantive partnerships with local organisations, despite a broad and sincere effort to make such cooperation a centrepiece of relief and development. Enduring collaboration and capacity building depend on INGOs taking initiative and spending money on partnerships in politically charged environments, advocacy with donors and host governments, and serious institutional investment in local organisations. A Princeton University graduate research team visited five countries (Bosnia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, and Sudan) and interviewed more than 100 local and INGOs in November 1999 to assess the cooperative ventures between the two in politically disrupted environments. The study focused on four…
Over the past two years, there has been persistent and increasing opposition to the Sphere and Ombudsman projects, and by extension to field-based or general codes of conduct, including the People-in-Aid code. This opposition has come primarily from French NGOs associated with the Groupe Urgence- Réhabilitation-Développement (Groupe URD). The initial objection to Sphere – that ‘to every complex problem there is a simple solution, and it is a bad one’ – has led to an advice to the French government not to co-fund the Ombudsman project; and has resulted in the creation of a ‘Platform for Quality’ and consideration of…
Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers and peacekeepers represents a catastrophic failure of protection. It brings harm to the very people the UN, NGOs and international organisations are mandated to protect and jeopardises the reputation of these organisations. It also violates universally recognised international legal norms and standards. Although not a new phenomenon, sexual exploitation and abuse was brought to the forefront of public attention in 2002 following allegations of widespread abuse of refugee and internally displaced women and children by humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in West Africa. Since then, the international community has taken action to address the…
How do humanitarian responders and the organisations they work for take conflict into account when responding to rapid-onset emergencies? In what ways do the actions of humanitarian agencies exacerbate conflict? These were some of the questions a group of NGOs working together in the Conflict Sensitivity Consortium[1] (CSC) set about answering in a commissioned report published by HPN in October 2011.[2] The research looked at the organisational frameworks and emergency manuals used by international NGOs, system-wide tools and standards such as the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in humanitarian response and the HAP 2007 Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and…
The core humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence underpin the day-to-day operations of humanitarian organisations. Humanitarian principles can lay the foundations for the trust and acceptance that enable NGOs, the Red Cross/Red Crescent and UN agencies to operate. Commentary from NGOs and others in recent years, however, has repeatedly highlighted the increased politicisation of humanitarian aid. The Caritas Europa report Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice, published in October 2011, examines some of the practical consequences of this trend for the delivery of humanitarian aid, notably within the framework of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, which…
Since it was established in 1997, the Sphere Project has played a central role within the humanitarian community. By defining minimum standards, the initiative strives to enhance the quality and accountability of humanitarian assistance. The publication of the Sphere Handbook Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response 2011 edition has spurred renewed interest in the Sphere Project. It also coincides with intensified discussions on professionalising the humanitarian sector. This article outlines the major changes in the 2011 edition of the Handbook and offers a few reflections on the challenges that lie ahead. The role of Sphere The Sphere Project…
The use of businesses connected to armed groups and trafficking networks to transport humanitarian aid is a problem long privately acknowledged by aid workers in complex political emergencies and disaster relief operations. Until recently, it was largely seen as one of the inevitable compromises that have to be made in order to get aid through in high-risk conflict and disaster zones where few reputable commercial companies are prepared to venture. However, new draft procurement guidelines[1] published by the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO) call for greater due diligence in contracting transport services. The ECHO guidelines focus particular…
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