Select your language

Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Core Standard 6: Aid worker performance

Humanitarian agencies provide appropriate management, supervisory and psychosocial support, enabling aid workers to have the knowledge, skills, behaviour and attitudes to plan and implement an effective humanitarian response with humanity and respect.


Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Guidance notes

  1. Management good practice: People management systems depend on the agency and context but managers and supervisors should be familiar with the People In Aid Code of Good Practice which includes policies and guidelines for planning, recruitment, management, learning and development, transition at the end of a contract and, for international agencies, deployment.
  2. Recruitment procedures should be open and understandable to all staff and applicants. Such transparency includes the development and sharing of updated and relevant job descriptions for each post and is essential to establish diverse and competent teams. Existing teams can increase their appropriateness and diversity through new recruitment as required. Rapid staff expansion may lead to the recruitment of inexperienced team members who should be supported by experienced staff.
  3. Aid workers’ control over the management and allocation of valuable aid resources puts them in a position of power over the disaster-affected population. Such power over people dependent on assistance and whose protective social networks have been disturbed or destroyed can lead to corruption and abuse. Women, children and persons with disabilities are frequently coerced into sexually abusive situations. Sexual activity can never be demanded in exchange for humanitarian assistance or protection. No individual associated with humanitarian response (aid workers and military, state or private sector personnel) should be party to abuse, corruption or sexual exploitation. The forced labour of adults or children, illicit drug use and trading in humanitarian goods and services by those connected with humanitarian distributions are also prohibited.
  4. Aid workers should respect the values and dignity of the disaster-affected population and avoid behaviours (such as inappropriate dress) that are culturally unacceptable to them.
  5. Aid workers often work long hours in risky and stressful conditions. An agency’s duty of care to its workers includes actions to promote well-being and avoid long-term exhaustion, injury or illness. Managers must make aid workers aware of the risks and protect them from exposure to unnecessary threats to their physical and emotional health through, for example, effective security management, adequate rest and recuperation, active support to work reasonable hours and access to psychological support. Managers can promote a duty of care through modelling good practice and personally complying with policy. Aid workers also need to take personal responsibility for managing their well-being.
  6. In the early phase of a disaster, staff capacity development may be restricted. Over time, through performance reviews and feedback from staff, managers should identify and support areas for learning and development. Disaster preparedness also provides opportunities to identify and develop humanitarian-related competencies.
  7. Psychological first aid should be immediately available to workers who have experienced or witnessed extremely distressing events (see Essential health services – mental health standard 1 and References and further reading). Psychological debriefing is ineffective and should not be provided.