Copenhagen, 12 December – The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) was officially launched today at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, along with the findings and recommendations from a Certification Review carried out by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR). These two initiatives have the potential to mark a significant step forward in the way humanitarian actors deliver, and are held accountable for, their work. Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the conference welcomed over 100 humanitarian leaders and decision-makers representing NGOs, the UN and governments.

The Danish Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, Mogens Jensen, said: “It is quite extraordinary that so many different humanitarian actors have succeeded in agreeing on a common set of humanitarian standards that will be guiding the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the years to come. I do not think that one should underestimate the importance of the fact that all humanitarian aid workers now will have a common set of standards to guide their work. It is also a great contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit on making humanitarian assistance more effective and professional.”

The CHS is the first response to a call for harmonisation and simplification of standards as humanitarian action adapts to significant changes in the operating environment. Organisations may use it as a voluntary standard with which to align their own internal procedures. Importantly, it also outlines what good humanitarian action looks like for communities and people affected by crisis and for the staff and organisations involved in responding to their needs.

The CHS represents the culmination of a 12-month, three-stage consultation in Arabic, English, French and Spanish which involved feedback, input and opinion from over 1,000 individuals and organisations spanning the globe. The consultation also involved a two-month testing phase during which over 60 organisations tested the draft CHS at headquarters and field level. The CHS brings together, and will eventually replace, the 2010 HAP Standard in Accountability and Quality Management; the People In Aid Code of Good Practice in the Management and Support of Aid Personnel; the Core Standards section of the Sphere Handbook and and will also be integrated into the Quality COMPAS reference framework.

“By bringing together the common elements of different standards, we are making it simpler for humanitarian actors to be accountable to the people and communities they serve, and to deliver better quality action.” said Jonathan Potter, Executive Director, People In Aid on behalf of the three organisations. “The CHS is owned collectively by the sector and any revision will be a collective and inclusive effort. HAP, People In Aid and the Sphere Project will continue to play a key role in the promotion, utilisation and revision of the CHS, and it will be at the centre of the new organisation formed by the merger of HAP and People In Aid.”

The Certification Review led by SCHR explored the relevance and feasibility of an external verification and certification scheme to promote consistent quality in programming and greater accountability towards crisis-affected populations and other stakeholders.  

Kate Halff, Executive Secretary of SCHR, said “An independent voluntary external verification and certification scheme will provide assurances to external stakeholders that an organisation that claims to work in principled, accountable and effective manner can support these claims with evidence from an independent recognised source”.

The Core Humanitarian Standard is available to download in English at www.corehumanitarianstandard.org, along with more information about the consultation process and the future application of the CHS. Detailed findings of the SCHR Certification Review Project were published in November 2014 and can be found at www.schr.info. A video recording of the conference will be available on the CHS website in the coming days.