What is Sphere?
The Sphere Project, now known as Sphere, was created in 1997 by a group of humanitarian non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Its aim was to improve the quality of their humanitarian responses and to be accountable for their actions. The Sphere philosophy is based on two core beliefs:
• People affected by disaster or conflict have the right to life with dignity and, therefore, the right to assistance; and
• All possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of disaster or conflict.
The Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards put these core beliefs into practice. The Protection Principles inform all humanitarian action, and the Core Humanitarian Standard contains commitments to support accountability across all sectors. Together, they form The Sphere Handbook, which has developed into one of the most widely referenced humanitarian resources globally.
- The Handbook The principal users of The Sphere Handbook are practitioners involved in planning, managing or implementing a humanitarian response. This includes staff and volunteers of local, national and international humanitarian organisations responding to a crisis, as well as affected people themselves. The Handbook is also used for humanitarian advocacy to improve the quality and accountability of assistance and protection in line with humanitarian principles. It is increasingly used by governments, donors, military or the private sector to guide their own actions and allow them to work constructively with the humanitarian organisations that apply the standards.
The Handbook was first piloted in 1998, with revised editions published in 2000, 2004, 2011 and now 2018. Each revision process has relied on sectorwide consultations with individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments and United Nations agencies. The resulting standards and guidance are informed by evidence and reflect 20 years of field testing by practitioners around the world.
This fourth edition marks the 20th anniversary of The Sphere Handbook and reflects changes in the humanitarian sector over that time. It includes new guidance for working in urban settings, for addressing Minimum Standards in protracted crises, and for delivering assistance through markets as a way to meet the standards. All technical chapters have been updated to reflect current practice, and the harmonised Core Humanitarian Standard replaces the previous Core Standards.