Frequently Asked Revision Questions
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1. What is the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS)?
The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) is a globally recognised standard that sets out Nine Commitments that organisations make to people affected by crises or situations of vulnerability. It describes the essential elements of principled, accountable and high-quality support and assistance. Together, these Commitments provide an integrated framework to help organisations assess and continuously improve their performance and accountability towards the people and communities they work with.
The CHS was developed through an extensive consultation process that involved people and communities affected by crisis, aid workers and experts, national and international aid organisations and networks, and governments. Since its launch in 2014, the CHS has become a key reference in the aid sector. Hundreds of organisations use the CHS to guide and orient their work with growing evidence that it drives improvements for organisations that consistently apply it as part of their work. The CHS has also shaped and influenced global efforts to strengthen and improve quality and accountability in the sector.
2. Why revise the CHS?
The global context has changed significantly since the CHS was launched. The number of people in need of assistance and protection across the world is increasing year on year, exacerbated by protracted conflicts, the climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing these challenges, while tackling unequal power dynamics and safeguarding concerns, are critical elements for organisations that exist to work with and support people facing situations of crisis and vulnerability. The revision is designed to ensure the CHS remains a relevant, accessible and practical framework to make aid more accountable to affected people.
For the CHS to reach its full potential, we need to take stock of the lessons learned over the past eight years, consider and integrate new developments, and reach increased awareness, endorsement and use of an updated standard by wider set of stakeholders.
3. What is the process for the revision?
The revision process is set out in stages, summarised as follows:
- First round of consultations and feedback (May to December 2022)
- Analysis of feedback and seven years of learning through application of the CHS
(January to May 2022)
- Feedback on proposed updated draft (June to September 2023)
- Finalisation of updated Standard (end of 2023)
- Roll out (2024)
Consultations and feedback cycles have drawn, and continue to draw, on engagement with affected people and communities, a wide-ranging set of stakeholders, dedicated outreach, regional workshops and structured country consultations, webinars and surveys. These phases are also underpinned by the learnings to date from among organisations applying the CHS in their work.
The revision process is governed by the CHS Management Group, consisting of the three CHS Copyright Holders (CHS Alliance, Groupe URD and Sphere) and accompanied by the CHS Steering Committee. Please find more details here.
4. What are the aims of the revision?
The CHS revision aims to meet the following six Revision Criteria and to ensure that the proposed changes answer one or more of these criteria:
- Reaffirm and reinforce the standard as a people-centred framework for quality and accountability
- Address the most important issues that affect quality and accountability
- Clarify concepts, simplify language, and make it more accessible for users and stakeholders
- Reinforce the measurability of the Standard
- Reinforce coherence and alignment with existing quality and technical standards and good accountability practices
- Have the potential to increase adoption and use of the Standard by a wider number of stakeholders, particularly local and national actors
5. What are the key proposed changes to the CHS in Draft 1?
Draft 1 strengthens the CHS to reinforce the leading role of people and communities in shaping and influencing actions and decisions that affect them and addressing power imbalances through more equitable, inclusive relationships between stakeholders. It gives greater prominence to supporting locally led responses, the environment and the nexus of humanitarian and development work. At the same time, the draft maintains the primary focus on quality and accountability towards people and communities.
To ensure greater accessibility and user-friendliness, Draft 1 uses less jargon and more accessible language. It reduces duplication, while maintaining rigour. Meanwhile, continuity with the existing Standard remains a critical factor for building on the strong and growing relevance of the CHS. As such, the content of this version is an update of what is already being used by many organisations for monitoring and verification purposes. The suggested revision also remains the foundation for technical standards such as Sphere and the Quality Compass, ensuring linkages with global initiatives such as the Grand Bargain.
Finally, while maintaining its focus on humanitarian response, Draft 1 seeks to address the diversity of organisations who are involved in supporting people in crisis, specifically local and national actors.
The CHS Revision Team has developed a range of documents that detail the proposed changes. These can be found on the Resources page.
6. How does the updated CHS build on learning over the past eight years?
The revision process draws on the significant learning and experiences gained over the past eight years, including data from self-assessments, external verification processes and comments from users as well as analysis form the 2020 and 2022 Humanitarian Accountability Reports. Areas where the sector is making continuous improvement are strongly considered. These experiences highlight the importance of the CHS as a measurable standard that allows organisations to track and measure progress towards meeting the CHS's Nine Commitments to people and communities.
7. How is feedback on the current CHS reflected in the revision?
Feedback on the CHS through the various stages of the revision has been extremely informative and indicates support for adjusting the standard. With 3 385 individuals from more than 80 countries engaging in the first consultation round (2022), the level of feedback and engagement reflects the strong position of the CHS globally, as well as the commitment and deication to quality and accountability among individuals and organisations.
As detailed in the Stakeholder feedback analysis report, the general feedback in the first consultation round was overwhelmingly supportive of the CHS and its benefits as a common, coherent framework to support people-centred quality and accountability. This includes feedback from people and communities in situation of crisis and vulnerability, local and national actors, and other users and stakeholders of the CHS around the world. The updated draft addresses this feedback while maintaining continuity with the original CHS to ensure it remains a useful and relevant driver for improving quality and accountability across the aid sector.
8. How are people and communities involved in the revision process?
During the first round of consultation, community consultations took place. During the second round of consultation, communities are being consulted in a number of countries. These community consultations are designed so that communities express how far the CHS Commitments are relevant to them or not and why.
9. How are cross-cutting themes like diversity and inclusion, localisation, environment and climate change reflected in the CHS?
Several important cross-cutting themes that affect quality and accountability were identified in the stakeholder consultation process. These include imbalanced power dynamics, equity, diversity and inclusion, safeguarding, the humanitarian-development nexus, the environment and climate change, and emphasis on participation, community engagement and support for locally led efforts. To the extent possible, these themes have been reinforced and included in the updated CHS, balancing their inclusion with the strong message from stakeholders to simplify the CHS.
10. How can I comment or provide feedback on Draft 1?
As in the first consultation round, a variety of channels will be available to provide feedback or express your support and endorsement for the updated CHS. This includes webinars, regional workshops, feedback forms, surveys and other tools. Consultation with communities will be encouraged as well. The consultation period has opened in early June and will last until September 2023. You will find all relevant information on www.corehumanitarianstandard.org/chs-revision
11. When will the updated CHS come into effect?
The updated CHS is expected to be finalised at the end 2023. It will come into effect the moment it is published.
12. Can I start my engagement with the current CHS now or should I wait for the updated CHS?
Organisations interested in working with the CHS can do so at any moment. Currently, this is the 2014 version. After publication of the updated CHS, there will be a transition period allowing organisations to gradually change to the updated CHS. More detailed information regarding this transition phase will be shared in due course.
13. Does the transition to the updated CHS allow for continuity of measurability and data collection on the commitments?
Yes. The two versions are similar in structure and content to allow for continuity in data collection and use. The updated CHS retains this important element of measurability by providing a clearer focus on describing the most essential elements of quality and accountability and how organisations can meet them. Further tools and guidance on monitoring, assessing and verifying programmes and organisations apply and meet the standard will be developed after the updated CHS has been finalised at the end of 2023.
14. How does this revision process affect my organisation’s current and future engagement in verification or certification against the CHS?
CHS Alliance will determine the timeframe for the self-assessment, independent verification and certification process to transition and adapt the verification tools and documents accordingly.