The four core humanitarian principles – humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence – undergird the humanitarian enterprise. They are referenced in UN Resolutions, included in the Red Cross and NGO Code of Conduct, cited in the missions and mandates of various organizations, noted in various best practices documents, and included in a number of donor agreements. Consequently, considerations regarding how to operate in accordance with these principles are of great import for humanitarian organizations.
This session reviewed the four core principles in detail, discussing their definitional scope, the guiding role they play, and give a brief overview of the challenges to their implementation. It also contextualized the principles by examining their relationship to international humanitarian law (IHL), focusing in particular on their significance to those negotiating and conducting humanitarian operations in the context of an armed conflict.
Later in 2015, this session on the basics of the core humanitarian principles was followed by a series of more advanced sessions focusing in greater depth on each principle, as well as challenges, and dilemmas in their operationalization.