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Helpdesk Research Report: Donors’ and agencies’ humanitarian protection frameworks

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  1. Overview

This report provides information on the strategy documents that frame different donors’ and humanitarian agencies’ approaches to protection, and highlights the key focus of each document. Many definitions of humanitarian protection exist, with many donors supporting, and agencies undertaking, protection activities. These are mostly in situations of conflict, or as a result of natural disasters, such as an earthquake or famine.

The starting point for most humanitarian organisations’ approaches to humanitarian protection is the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. They provide for protection against the effects of hostilities, and for the general protection and administration of civilians in time of war. They call specifically for the protection of people who are not taking part in hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick or shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war.

Many agencies work collaboratively to ensure harmonisation of approaches to protection in the field, and much inter-agency effort has been made to work towards a common definition of protection. Accordingly, many humanitarian agencies have adopted the ICRC-NGO definition, which refers to protection as: ‘All activities aimed at obtaining full respect for therights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of the relevant bodies of international law (i.e. human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law)’.

However, many donors and the organisations they fund have developed and still maintain their own guiding principles for protection activities. This report contains details of some of these. It also briefly summarises documents that have resulted from inter-agency collaborations, in addition to UN guidelines and other international directives.