The Sphere Project was launched in 1997 by NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement to define and uphold the standards used by the international community when responding to populations affected by disaster. It accomplishes this through a set of guidelines, set out in the Humanitarian Charter and the Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (known as the Sphere Handbook).

The 2011 edition of the Handbook presents a collection of shared principles and universal minimum standards that should be applied at any level of humanitarian response. It proposes a common terminology and guidance for ensuring efficacy and accountability.

A new chapter on protection and security as an integral part of humanitarian response for populations affected by disasters or armed conflict is included in the 2011 edition. The Handbook also addresses topics such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, early recovery of services and sustainability measures, transfer of cash, and relations between civilian and military responders.

For information about obtaining a copy of the Handbook, visit: