History of the process

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) is a direct result of the Joint Standards Initiative (JSI) in which the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) International, People In Aid and the Sphere Project joined forces to seek greater coherence for users of humanitarian standards. The JSI consulted more than 2,000 humanitarian workers in head offices, regions and in disaster-prone countries. The feedback highlighted the need for the harmonisation of standards, with communities and people affected by crisis at the centre and humanitarian principles as the foundation.

The CHS is the result of a 12-month, three-stage consultation, during which humanitarian workers, communities and people affected by crisis, several hundred Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and networks, governments, United Nations and donor agencies, and academics rigorously analysed the content of the CHS and tested it at headquarters and field level.

The feedback from each consultation was then considered and the revisions approved by a 65-person Technical Advisory Group representing a broad spread of constituencies and areas of technical expertise in humanitarian action and standards development.

In their efforts to harmonise standards, HAP International, People In Aid and the Sphere Project were joined by Groupe URD who integrated the Quality COMPAS reference framework into the CHS.

The Standard brings together the main elements of the Sphere and HAP 2010 standards, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Code of Conduct, the People in Aid Code of Good Practice and criteria from the OECD’s DAC and from the Quality Compas developed by Groupe URD. It has been developed due to the need to improve the coherence between the numerous different standards that exist.


The Core Humanitarian Standard

As a core standard, the CHS describes the essential elements of principled, accountable and high-quality humanitarian action. Humanitarian organisations may use it as a voluntary code with which to align their own internal procedures. It can also be used as a basis for verification of performance.

The CHS sets out Nine Commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. It also facilitates greater accountability to communities and people affected by crisis: knowing what humanitarian organisations have committed to will enable them to hold those organisations to account.

Each Commitment is supported by a Quality Criterion that indicates how humanitarian organisations and staff should be working in order to meet it.

The CHS is structured as follows:

  • the Nine Commitments;
  • supporting Quality Criteria;
  • key Actions to be undertaken in order to fulfil the Commitments; and
  • organisational Responsibilities to support the consistent and systematic implementation of the Key Actions throughout the organisation.

The Key Actions and Organisational Responsibilities, respectively, describe:

  • what staff engaged in humanitarian action should do to deliver high-quality programmes consistently and to be accountable to those they seek to assist; and
  • the policies, processes and systems organisations engaged in humanitarian action need to have in place to ensure their staff provide high-quality, accountable humanitarian assistance


Carried out by

Véronique de Geoffroy

Executive Director (employed since 1999)