Humanitarian action is intended to “save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and after man-made crises and disasters caused by natural hazards, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for when such situations occur”. Furthermore, humanitarian action should be governed by the key humanitarian principles of: humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.
These are the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (RCRC), which are reaffirmed in UN General Assembly resolutions and enshrined in numerous humanitarian standards and guidelines.
Reporting humanitarian assistance
There is no universal obligation or system for reporting expenditure on international or domestic humanitarian assistance. The main reporting platforms for international humanitarian assistance are the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS).
The 29 OECD DAC members are obligated to report their humanitarian assistance to the DAC systems as part of their official development assistance (ODA), in accordance with definitions set out by the DAC. Some other governments and most major multilateral organisations voluntarily report to the DAC. The UN OCHA FTS is open to all humanitarian donors and implementing agencies to voluntarily report contributions of internationally provided humanitarian assistance, according to an agreed set of criteria for inclusion.
‘Humanitarian assistance’ in our work
The Global Humanitarian Assistance report primarily draws on data reported to the OECD DAC and UN OCHA FTS. Between these sources there is variation in the criteria for what can be included as humanitarian assistance (and hence the volumes reported), so we always explain and source the data. We use other datasets in our analysis, for example data on humanitarian assistance from private donors; this is clearly sourced and explained in the report’s notes and methodology.
We also analyse financing flows that fall outside the definition of ‘humanitarian assistance’ but that are clearly important for addressing the causes and consequences of crisis. We refer to this as ‘crisis-financing’ or ‘humanitarian-related aid’, and again we always explain the various sources and analysis behind this.