SPHERE International Humanitarian Standards

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The Sphere movement was started in 1997 by a group of humanitarian professionals aiming to improve the quality of humanitarian work during disaster response. With this goal in mind, they framed a Humanitarian Charter and identified a set of humanitarian standards to be applied in humanitarian response.

Initially developed by non-governmental organisations, along with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Sphere standards have become a primary reference tool for national and international NGOs, volunteers, UN agencies, governments, donors, the private sector, and many others. Today, Sphere is a worldwide community which brings together and empowers practitioners to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian assistance.

Sphere’s flagship publication, the Sphere Handbook, is one of the most widely known and internationally recognised sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in humanitarian response.

Core Humanitarian Standards commitments

The plain English version of the nine Core Humanitarian Standards commitments was elaborated by a working group with the expertise of Translators Without Borders. It uses very commonly used words, identified as being in the top 2,000 English words in use according to the COCA word frequency list. It also uses sentence structures and verb forms that promote fast and accurate comprehension.

The original intention of the document is to provide a statement of humanitarian organisations’ commitments in a way that can easily be understood by the communities and people affected by crisis.


What you can expect from our organisation as a person affected by crisis


When our organisation works with a community to help them respond to a crisis, we promise to follow
nine general commitments. This page explains those commitments in plain language, so you know
what you can expect from us.


Emergencies can bring problems for us too. So although we always try to follow the commitments,
sometimes we might not be able to. But we want to learn and improve over time, so you can help us
by providing us feedback.


We will do our best to:

1. understand and meet your needs.

2. give support when you need it.

3. provide support that helps you to recover and prepares you to respond to a similar emergency
in the future. We should not harm you.

4. inform you about the support you can expect and how you should be treated.
We will do our best to give you a say in decisions about the support provided.

5. ensure that you can report problems if you are unhappy with the support we provide or with
the way our staff treat you. No one should harm you if you make a complaint. We will take
action in response to complaints.

6. work together with other organisations that provide support. We try to combine our
knowledge and resources to better meet your needs.

7. learn from experience so that the support we give you improves over time.

8. ensure that the people who work for us have the skills and experience to support you.

9. manage resources in a way that is responsible, limits waste and has the best result for you.

Note: “resources” refers to all of the things, such as materials, money, and medical care,
that we use to support people affected by the emergency.