HAP, People In Aid and the Sphere Project on the harmonisation of humanitarian standards

29 November 2013 | Sphere Project

Representatives of the Boards of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP), People In Aid and the Sphere Project met this week and considered the current status of the process towards the harmonisation of humanitarian standards jointly undertaken by the three initiatives over the last two years.

The three initiatives confirmed their continued commitment to improving quality and accountability within the humanitarian and development sectors, and their recognition of the efforts made to achieve such a goal, [these] being an expression of a deep interest shared by the three initiatives as well as by their respective constituencies.

However, the Sphere Board believes that the various stakeholders have learned from the harmonisation process that combining operational and organisational standards is not easy and might not be desirable, and that looking at complementarity of different approaches is a better way forward. Therefore, the Sphere Board has decided that the Sphere Project will discontinue its involvement in the development of a Core Humanitarian Standard and related activities.

Statement from the Sphere Project Board:

The Sphere Project will continue its work through a participatory approach involving a broad group of stakeholders, particularly those initiatives engaged in developing humanitarian standards with programmatic and operational foci. The Sphere Project recognises the value of complementary approaches and foci on different constituencies.

The Sphere Project will remain engaged in dialogue with various quality and accountability initiatives, including HAP and People In Aid. It will also continue to strengthen the growing community of Sphere companion standards. Recognising the need, Sphere will also strengthen awareness-building about quality and accountability issues and ensure that Sphere standards are verifiable.

In this context, the Sphere Board believes there is room for improvement through innovation and collaboration, including open, inclusive and transparent dialogue about the way in which standards-setting initiatives dealing with different areas of humanitarian response relate to each other.

Statement from HAP and People In Aid Boards:

HAP and People In Aid regret the decision of the Sphere Board at this stage of the process. The implication of this decision is that Sphere will no longer contribute to any of the activities to which we jointly agreed at the end of the JSI process, including the further development of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), a first draft of which the three organisations had committed to circulate in the first week of December.

The CHS we have jointly developed incorporates the essence of the standards of the three participating agencies, with the intention always having been for the CHS to replace each of these three standards. We intend to circulate the draft CHS in the second week of December, and would be interested in your feedback on the contents of the CHS in relation to harmonisation and continued relevance.

The Boards of HAP, People In Aid and the Sphere Project are grateful to all stakeholders who participated at different stages of the consultation carried out by the Joint Standards Initiative and around the Core Humanitarian Standard process. Their contributions are invaluable and will inform the next stages of the different paths the three initiatives are embarking on.

The three initiatives count on the support of their constituencies to develop appropriate tools to improve humanitarian response for the benefit of people affected by disaster or conflict.

London, 29 November 2013

On behalf of the HAP Board:
Lisa Henry, Chair
Zainab Raza, Vice Chair

On behalf of the People In Aid Board:
Willem van Eekelen, Chair
Jacquie Heany, Vice Chair

On behalf of the Sphere Project Board:
Unni Krishnan, Chair
Carsten Völz, Vice Chair

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