Who We Are
Founded in 1972, SCHR brings together nine of the world’s leading humanitarian organisations to share analysis and learning, and promote greater accountability and impact of humanitarian actions. SCHR currently has nine members:
VISION & MISSION
We aspire to, and will actively promote, a world in which local communities, civil society, governments and regional institutions can respond effectively to humanitarian emergencies, based on universally accepted humanitarian principles. As leading international humanitarian organisations, we put disaster-affected people at the centre of our responses. Our imperative is to save lives, reduce human suffering and preserve human dignity.
The 70’s and 80’s: focus on disaster response
The Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (originally named the Licross Volags Steering Committee for Disasters) was founded in 1972 by Oxfam UK and Ireland, the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and Catholic Relief Services. The primary reason for the establishment of this informal group was to find ways to improve coordination at the international level.
The Committee, which consisted of the chief executives of member organisations, shared information about disaster situations and carried out studies on issues of concern related to disaster preparedness and relief. It sponsored a rapid exchange information system between its members and the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO) during disasters.
Spearheading accountability in humanitarian action and promoting good practices
SCHR was the original sponsor of the “Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief” (1998) which sets ethical standards for organisations involved in humanitarian work. SCHR and InterAction launched the Sphere project in 1997 to set minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian assistance.
SCHR members then carried out two peer reviews to see how organisations were implementing their commitments and to learn from one another. The first peer review (2003-2007) reviewed members’ progress in addressing issues of sexual exploitation and abuse of people affected by crisis. The second (2008-2010) looked into how SCHR members dealt with the issue of accountability to affected populations.
SCHR has developed a number of positions on issues of relevance for the wider humanitarian community such as breaches in humanitarian principles (1999), the implementation of the Brahimi report (2000), small arms (2001), humanitarian-military relations (2001, 2004 and 2010) and integrated missions (2004, together with ICVA).
SCHR actively engaged in the Humanitarian Reform initiated in 2005 as a standing invitee at the Inter-Agency Steering Committee (IASC). It then promoted expected outcomes of the IASC's Transformative Agenda.
In line with SCHR members' commitments to humanitarian principles and their belief in the need to be explicit about what constitutes principled humanitarian action, SCHR worked on designing and testing an approach to define and measure the application of humanitarian principles, with a focus on the principle of impartiality. The results of this work also fed into the development of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) which specifies what people affected by crisis can expect from good humanitarian action and what this entails for the organisations and their staff involved in the response.
Driven by SCHR’s vision of a future in which affected populations participate in shaping the kind of assistance they receive and their relationship with aid providers, SCHR promotes the application of the CHS as well as independant quality assurance mechanisms for NGOs which are interested in an objective assessment of their progress in implementing the CHS and / or an independant assurance of compliance with the standard, delivered in line with internationally recognised norms for certification.
SCHR Principals decided in May 2016 that their collective work over the coming years would focus on the issue of power within the humanitarian sector and how to rebalance it away from providers of assistance to people affected by crisis, building on the momentum from their conferences Humanitarian Action in 2025 and Humanitarian Leadership in 2025, the World Humanitarian Summit and the Grand Bargain.
Initial thinking within SCHR framed the issue as "putting affected people at the center of decision-making" and thought of how to build on the work already done by organisations, often framed as "participation" or as "accountability to affected people". SCHR's Working Group decided on a collective approach to review current practices to inform a generic analysis of enablers and dis-enablers of effective participation. The outcomes of this work will inform a better understanding of how power dynamics within the humanitarian sector are consolidated; it will also contribute to initiatives under way to improve on organisations' engagement with affected people.
As SCHR wants to consider how to shift power away from those who resource and implement humanitarian assistance to those who need it, it also needs to better understand how power structures and dynamics impact on their own organisations and their relations with others in the humanitarian eco-system and beyond, such as for example members of the public. It also needs to think through the implications for organisations of a shift in power away from providers of assistance to people affected by crisis.
HOW SCHR FUNCTIONS
SCHR has a small secretariat, managed by the Executive Secretary, which is based in Geneva. The main body driving discussions are the SCHR Principals, the CEOs of each member organisation, who meet at least once year face-to-face and have quarterly telephone conferences. The Chair and Vice-Chair are appointed on a rotating basis for two-year periods.
To support the Principals, a Working Group, comprised of the members’ Humanitarian or Policy Directors, provides advice and expertise on operational and policy issues. The Working Group meets face-to-face two or three times a year.
- Yves Daccord, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), current Chair of SCHR
- John Nduna, ACT Alliance, current Vice-Chair of SCHR
- Wolfgang Jamann, CARE International
- Michel Roy, Caritas Internationalis
- Elhadj As Sy, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
- Maria Immonen, Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
- Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB
- Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Save the Children International
- Kevin Jenkins, World Vision International
SCHR Working Group members:
- Nick Clarke, ACT Alliance
- Philippe Guiton, CARE International
- Suzanna Tkalec, Caritas Internationalis
- Clare Dalton, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
- David Fisher, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
- Roland Schlott, Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
- Nigel Timmins, Oxfam International
- Daniele Timarco, Save the Children International
- Isabel Gomes, World Vision International
As a voluntary alliance, SCHR members maintain their independence and autonomy, but come together with a commitment to leverage the knowledge, experience and network of each to find solutions to issues and challenges facing humanitarian action. SCHR works in three main areas:
STRATEGIC COORDINATION AND OPERATIONAL COOPERATION
SCHR members share information on humanitarian crises and risks to identify and address gaps in the response, to support effective coordination of aid efforts and bring issues such as protection of civilians or security of aid workers to the attention of relevant stakeholders.
EFFECTIVE HUMANITARIAN ACTION
SCHR supports quality and accountability of humanitarian action and promotes humanitarian principles. SCHR members are committed to learning and improving their own work, as well as promoting learning in the wider humanitarian community.
SCHR contributes to shaping humanitarian policy, so that humanitarian action remains relevant in a changing world.