PHAP Online Learning Series on Humanitarian Law and Policy: IHL and Core Humanitarian Principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence
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.
- Understanding of the four core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence and the ways in which they are linked in practice
- Awareness of other operating principles used by humanitarian actors
- Understanding of the relationship between the core humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law (IHL)
- Awareness of the limited scope of humanitarian assistance and access under IHL
- Ability to analyze the dilemmas faced by humanitarian organizations when operationalizing the humanitarian principles
Session Recording (Adobe Connect)
You can access a recording of the learning session by clicking on the image below. Note that the recordings do not include the Q&A section of the sessions.
Session Recording (YouTube)
Session recording - Downloadable audio podcast
No prerequisite knowledge.
The following online learning session is recommended (recording available):
For participants wishing to prepare in advance for the event, we recommend the following resources:
- Kate Mackintosh (March 2005), The Principles of Humanitarian Action in International Humanitarian Law, Humanitarian Policy Group
- Brookings Institute (2011), Humanitarian Principles and Law (book chapter)
- ICRC (13 October 2014), [ICRC President] Peter Maurer on humanitarian diplomacy and principled humanitarian action
PHAP members are also recommended to follow the PHAP Online Course on Essentials of International Humanitarian Law.
For those wishing to learn more on this topic after following the session, we recommend the following resources:
- Ingrid Macdonald & Angela Valenza (October 2012), Tools for the job: Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action
- Jean Pictet (1979), The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross: Commentary, ICRC
PHAP members will have the possibility to undergo a two-part assessment after the session as part of the PHAP Continuous Learning Credits framework.
To encourage peer learning among members, selected essay responses will also be published on the website, if approved by the writer. As a member, you can comment on the responses and read other members' comments.
Humanitarian practitioners as well as others with a professional or general interest in humanitarian action in situations of armed conflict.
Executive Director, International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP)
PHAP Credentialing Program
Applying Humanitarian Principles in Practice
The event will address domain 1, in particular, segments 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 1.10, and 1.12 of the certification assessment outline. It will also address some aspects of segment 3.1.
Understanding the Humanitarian Ecosystem