Humanitarian Accountability Standards and Commitments

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) outlines nine commitments to improve the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian response, facilitating greater accountability to crisis-affected communities. As a core standard, the CHS acknowledges the vital role of participation for an effective response, and pivotally, that this participation comes from a diverse range of the community, including those differing in sex, age and ability.  Gender in emergencies work is particularly relevant to ensuring the fulfillment of CHS 1: Humanitarian response is appropriate and relevant.

Along with the CHS, The Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards are the core set of guiding principles by which CARE are committed to undertake their humanitarian work. The humanitarian principles, amongst which is impartiality, enshrine the principle of humanitarian assistance without bias or discrimination according to age, gender, race, religion, or ethnicity. The Sphere handbook is currently under review and revision.

The commitments generated during the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit included a prominent theme of improving gender outcomes. Women and girls, previously often seen as passive victims or beneficiaries of assistance, were recognised as often being amongst the first responders. Some of the specific outcomes included commitments to Catalyze action to achieve gender equality. These commitments include the effort to:

  • Fully comply with humanitarian policies, frameworks and legally binding documents related to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s rights. 
  • Ensure that all humanitarian programming is gender responsive.
  • Implement a coordinated global approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in crisis contexts, including through the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies.
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome documents of their review conferences for all women and adolescent girls in crisis settings.
  • Empower women and girls as change agents and leaders, including by increasing support for local women’s groups to participate meaningfully in humanitarian action.
  • The 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was one of the first international agreements to address issues related to sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights. Paragraph 7.3 clarifies that these are not a new set of rights, but reflect existing human rights instruments related to sexual and reproductive autonomy (freedoms) and the attainment of sexual and reproductive health (entitlements). The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action expands this definition by affirming in paragraph 96 the right to exercise control over and make decisions about one’s sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Fulfillment of each state’s obligations under these global commitments is assessed every four years in a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is essentially a peer review of each state’s human rights record.