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Humanitarian Charter

The Humanitarian Charter is the foundation document stating the ethical and legal principles that inspired the creation of the Sphere movement.

  • The Humanitarian Charter was drafted in 1997 by a group of professionals from different humanitarian agencies, brought together by the commitment to make humanitarian aid accountable to affected populations.

    The Charter contains a series of rights and obligations aimed at ensuring the welfare of crisis-affected populations. The Charter also captures a consensus among different humanitarian actors as to the shared principles which should guide the response to disaster or conflict.

    The Humanitarian Charter principles include the right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance, and the right to protection and security, as well as rights and duties envisaged by international law.

  • The Humanitarian Charter was written as a reference tool for all organisations and
    practitioners involved in humanitarian aid, including affected and donor governments, international organisations, private and non-State actors.

    The Charter is not a legally binding document, but the object of a voluntary commitment. The principles affirmed in its text are based on the principles of humanity and on the primacy of the humanitarian imperative; as such, they are universally applicable.

  • The Charter provides a solid foundation for any humanitarian intervention, guiding the action of agencies and practitioners involved in humanitarian assistance.

    The Charter is also a useful advocacy tool: it defines the rights to assistance and protection to which affected populations are entitled.

    Together with the Sphere Handbook’s Protection Principles and minimum standards, it offers a reliable basis for those humanitarian agencies making themselves accountable for their actions.

  • In 2014, Sphere published a series of illustrations representing the Humanitarian Charter principles. The cartoons aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the Charter among humanitarian practitioners and affected communities.