What is the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability and why is it important?


All industries have standards to assure the quality of their work. The Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) provides a measurable and verifiable standard for humanitarian and development work. It can be applied to development work just as easily as it can be applied to humanitarian work.

It outlines what good humanitarian/development action looks like for communities and people affected by crisis, and the staff and organisations involved in a response. The purpose of the CHS is to help organisations design, implement, assess, improve and recognise quality and accountability in assistance and programmes. It outlines the policies, processes, procedures and practices that an organisation needs in order to deliver quality assistance while at the same time being accountable to communities and people affected by crisis.

The CHS has Nine Commitments, which together form a framework of quality and accountability good practice can be easily implemented by all humanitarian actors and in development programmes.

The CHS Nine Commitments are:

Commitment Quality Criterion
Commitment 1 Communities and people affected by crisis receive assistance appropriate and relevant to their needs. Humanitarian response is appropriate and relevant
Commitment 2 Communities and people affected by crisis have access to the humanitarian assistance they need at the right time. Humanitarian response is effective and timely
Commitment 3 Communities and people affected by crisis are not negatively affected and are more prepared, resilient and less at-risk as a result of humanitarian action. Humanitarian response strengthens local capacities and avoids negative effects
Commitment 4 Communities and people affected by crisis know their rights and entitlements, have access to information and participate in decisions that affect them. Humanitarian response is based on communication, participation and feedback
Commitment 5 Communities and people affected by crisis have access to safe and responsive mechanisms to handle complaints. Complaints are welcomed and addressed
Commitment 6 Communities and people affected by crisis receive coordinated, complementary assistance. Humanitarian response is coordinated and complementary
Commitment 7 Communities and people affected by crisis can expect delivery of improved assistance as organisations learn from experience and reflection. Humanitarian actors continuously learn and improve
Commitment 8 Communities and people affected by crisis receive the assistance they require from competent and well-managed staff and volunteers. Staff are supported to do their job effectively, and are treated fairly and equitably
Commitment 9 Communities and people affected by crisis can expect that the organisations assisting them are managing resources effectively, efficiently and ethically. Resources are managed and used responsibly for their intended purpose


The Key Actions and Organisational Responsibilities under each of the Commitments, 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/ development action need to have in place to ensure their staff provide high-quality, accountable humanitarian assistance.

The CHS draws upon a number of sources, including but not limited to:

Benefits of the Core Humanitarian Standard

The CHS outlines best practice in accountability in humanitarian/development contexts. As a measurable and verifiable standard, the CHS enables all parties to be clear about what is promised, what can be expected and what has been delivered and how.

By applying the CHS:

  • agency staff will have a benchmark on how best to operate.
  • communities and people affected by crisis will know that they will get assistance that is best suited to their needs.
  • donors will be reassured that their funding is contributing to well-targeted and well-managed programmes
  • governments will get a clearer idea of how humanitarian/ development organisations plan to engage with communities in the countries in which these organisations operate.

Furthermore, the CHS helps to ensure that the range of humanitarian/development actors working in the sector work in coordination with one another, bringing greater coherence to work done in often chaotic crisis situations. The CHS puts the voices of communities and people affected by crisis at the heart of decision-making, which makes the response more targeted and effective.

It is anticipated that over time, the CHS will be recognised and used by the majority of humanitarian/development actors, including national and donor governments and all operational agencies.

Applying the CHS supports better planning and allows an organisation to embed operational risk management practices into its culture, enabling improved procedures to be put in place and management to make informed decisions about where to invest in risk mitigation techniques and improved controls. Such systems are promoted by the CHS, and many organisations have noted that better planning supports a more rapid response and deployment of staff to crisis-affected areas, not the contrary.

More information

For more information, please check these two websites: