Child Protection standards become new Sphere Handbook companion

27 May 2013 | Sphere Project

The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action have been accepted as a companion to the Sphere Handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response. By virtue of the companionship agreement, the two sets of standards are recognized as complementary.

Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian ActionThe Sphere Project Board approved the companionship at its 15 and 17 May meetings in Geneva. The decision acknowledges the quality of the Child Protection standards as well as the broad consultative processes that led to their development.

"The Child Protection standards are an extraordinarily useful tool," said Martin McCann, who sits on the Sphere Project Board on behalf of RedR International and was a member of the panel that reviewed the companionship application.

The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action have been developed by the Child Protection Working Group, a network of NGOs, United Nations agencies, academics and other partners working to ensure more predictable, accountable and effective child protection responses in emergencies. The Group is led by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Heather McLeod, who is a member of the Child Protection Working Group and represents World Vision International on the Sphere Project Board, stressed that the Child Protection standards "are meeting a need," which explains the "significant uptake" they are enjoying within the humanitarian sector.

More than 400 individuals from 30 agencies in over 40 countries, including child protection practitioners, humanitarian actors from other sectors, academics and policy-makers were involved in the development of the standards over a 22-month period.

The companionship agreement between the Child Protection Working Group and the Sphere Project will be signed in the coming days.

Other companion standards to the Sphere Handbook are the Minimum standards for Education, the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards and the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards.

Companionship agreements reflect the growing emphasis on quality and accountability within a changing humanitarian sector. They aim to promote complementarity between standards that become formally related and cross-reference each other. Companionship agreements provide humanitarian actors with a pool of harmonized sets of quality standards that are easy to use and refer to.

Joint Standards Initiative

On 16 May, the Sphere Project Board joined the Boards of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) and People In Aid at a meeting to discuss the outcomes of the Joint Standards Initiative (JSI), a pioneering collaborative effort between the three initiatives aimed at achieving a more coherent standards architecture.

Deciding to move into action to develop a new humanitarian standards architecture, the three Boards agreed to deliver a verifiable Common Core Standard by the end of 2013, provide joint awareness-raising and support activities around the Standard, and collaborate with other humanitarian actors to develop a new standards architecture. (Read more in this joint communiqué.)

Board members

Three new members have recently joined the Sphere Project Board. They are: Nan Buzard (International Council of Voluntary Agencies - ICVA), Ray Brown (The Salvation Army) and Gaim Kebreab (Norwegian Church Aid/ACT Alliance).

The Board expressed its gratitude for their faithful service to Rebecca Larson (ACT Alliance), Drew Ruthven (The Salvation Army) and Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop (ICVA), who have recently left the Board.

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