Humanitarian policy

We speak up for principled humanitarian action so that aid helps people around the world

A man buying food in Jordan.

The British Red Cross works on a range of humanitarian policy issues to support effective and principled humanitarian action.

We speak up for principled humanitarian action 

We believe aid is most effective when:

  • it is delivered on the basis of the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence
  • it is free from political, security, economic and military objectives. 

This principled humanitarian approach is critical to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It enables us to work in some of the most difficult humanitarian contexts and hard to reach areas.

We support local action

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement champions humanitarian response that is as local as possible, as international as necessary. This ensures that people affected by crises are at the centre of humanitarian action. 

In each country the Red Cross or Red Crescent, their local branches and their volunteer networks are often the first to respond in an emergency. They play a vital role in helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

We speak up for cash-based assistance

We believe that cash-based assistance has the potential to transform the way humanitarian aid is delivered. Giving people cash allows local markets to recover more quickly after a crisis and plays an important role in preserving the dignity of communities. 

We work to improve civil-military relations 

The British Red Cross chairs the NGO-Military Contact Group. This neutral group brings together humanitarian NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the elements of UK government involved in humanitarian response and crisis, including:

  • the Department for International Development
  • the Ministry of Defence
  • the Foreign & Commonwealth Office 
  • the Stabilisation Unit.

The group provides a space for open discussions about operations and policies, with the goal of improving the impact of humanitarian response on the ground for people caught up in crisis.

We address pressing challenges

We have selected three humanitarian issues where we intend to deepen our policy and advocacy focus to achieve the greatest impact. These are:

  • the protection and support of people affected by situations of protracted conflict
  • the protection of the safety and dignity of people displaced, refugees and migrants
  • hunger and chronic food insecurity.