The 7 Fundamental Humanitarian Principles

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Delivering life-saving help to individuals in need without making any distinctions is what humanitarian principles define as humanitarian aid. They set humanitarian help apart from other endeavors, such as those with a political, religious, ideological, or military bent. Following the humanitarian principles makes it easier to gain access and acceptance, and it also makes it easier for humanitarian workers to do their jobs. These principles are;

  • Humanity
  • Impartiality
  • Neutrality
  • Independence
  • Voluntary Service
  • Unity
  • Universality

The ethics of humanitarianism can be summed up in these seven Fundamental Principles, which also form the basis of its strategy for providing aid to those in need during times of armed war, natural catastrophes, and other emergencies. These guidelines make it possible for humanitarian organizations to help those in need efficiently and impartially. Humanitarian groups must always abide by these principles of conduct, and States must take note of this requirement. By following these guidelines, actions are guaranteed to be humanitarian in nature and bring global consistency to a wide range of endeavors. The principles give the national societies, which differ considerably in structure, culture, and membership, a common relationship.

  • Humanity

Humanity demands that pain be alleviated wherever it occurs, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. This principle, which supports all the others, includes the following ideas:

  • Suffering is common to all people and demands an answer; it cannot be treated with indifference.
  • The highest priority in all decisions is respect for human dignity. It involves looking out for and defending others around you, no matter who they are or what they have done.
  • Humanity safeguards life and health through the promotion of international humanitarian law, the prevention of sickness and disasters, and the performance of life-saving tasks, such as rendering first aid and providing food and shelter.
  • Neutrality

Humanitarian aid must be neutral, which means it cannot support one side over another in an armed war or other dispute. Humanitarian organizations cannot take sides in conflicts or participate in debates of a political, racial, religious, or ideological nature at any moment if they want to maintain the trust of everybody. They must not, at any time or location, take sides or be seen as doing so in their comments or behavior. This makes it possible for them to assist those in need during emergencies and to communicate with those taking part in armed conflict and other forms of violence. Assuring sides in a war that aiding civilians and injured or incarcerated fighters does not interfere with the conflict helps maintain neutrality. To gain the trust of all parties and be more effective when armed conflict or other violent crises begin, humanitarian groups must establish a reputation for impartial behavior in times of peace.

  • Impartiality

Humanitarian relief must be given only on the basis of need, without regard to any other factors. Humanitarian groups don’t discriminate based on a person’s race, nationality, religion, social class, or political views. They make an effort to alleviate people’s suffering while acting completely in accordance with their needs and giving the most urgent situations of distress top priority. The impartiality principle encapsulates three related ideas:

  • Non-discrimination: People are helped by members of humanitarian groups regardless of their political views, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or skin color. They also receive assistance regardless of where they are from.
  • Proportionality: Members of humanitarian groups must make sure that those who need help the most are given it first, whether they are treating the injured or giving them food.
  • Impartiality: Decisions must be made “only” in light of needs, without regard to personal preferences or sentiments.
  • Independence

Independence refers to the separation of humanitarian goals from other goals such as political, economic, or military goals. Independent humanitarian organizations exist. The national societies must constantly keep their autonomy in order to be able to always operate in line with the principles of humanitarianism, even though they are auxiliary in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries.

  • Humanitarian organizations may only adhere to the neutrality and impartiality norms by being really independent.
  • National societies must maintain their independence in decision-making even while they serve as an adjunct to the public authorities in the humanitarian sector. This allows them to always act in accordance with the Fundamental Principles. This can entail declining any demands that are inconsistent with these values and being careful to avoid interference or pressure.
  • Independent evaluations by humanitarian organizations should be allowed, as well as unrestricted communication with those in need of help.
  • Voluntary Service 

Humanitarian groups are selfless, non-profit aid efforts that are not driven in any way by greed.

  • The idea of volunteer service represents the altruistic motivation of everyone involved in humanitarian activity, regardless of whether they get compensation.
  • The fact that members of humanitarian organizations are only doing it out of a desire to help is a strong expression of solidarity. Their wide-ranging volunteer network is exceptional and guarantees that individuals all over the world receive aid. This serves as motivation for numerous additional charitable endeavors while also offering priceless insight into local conditions and the most effective means of aiding those in need.
  • The national societies are entrenched in local communities through volunteerism, which strengthens and empowers them.
  • Unity

This principle gives national societies the ability to bring people together, foster understanding, and foster peace in nations and communities. Humanitarian efforts by national societies must be carried out throughout their borders, in both populated urban regions and isolated rural areas. They must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, class, religion, political viewpoint, or any other factor when hiring volunteers, employees, and members of their governing boards.

  • Universality 

National Societies exist in almost every country in the world, and they have a collective responsibility to support one another in responding to crises and to support each other’s development in a spirit of solidarity and mutual respect. 

  • Regardless of size or resources, each National Society has equal status and shares equal responsibility and duty in helping one another. 
  • The universality principle also states that the shortcomings or omissions of one component have an impact on the entire organization. All parties must adhere to the Fundamental Principles for humanitarian organizations to maintain their integrity and good reputation.

European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, agreed in December 2007 by the Council of the EU, the European Parliament, and the European Commission, codifies the humanitarian principles at the EU level. The Consensus serves as the fundamental foundation for EU humanitarian aid policy, offering a shared vision and set of guiding ideals as well as a workable strategy. It makes sure that the measures taken by the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) of the European Commission adhere to humanitarian standards and deliver humanitarian aid to those who most need it.


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  • Lamin Camara August 20, 2022 @ 11:37 am


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