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Core Commitments

for Children

are the core UNICEF policy and framework for humanitarian action

Scope of CCC's




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The CCCs form the core UNICEF policy and framework for humanitarian action and are mandatory for all UNICEF personnel. Grounded in global humanitarian norms and standards, the CCCs set organisational, programmatic and operational commitments and benchmarks against which UNICEF holds itself accountable for the coverage, quality and equity of its humanitarian action and advocacy.

In addition, they guide every stakeholder, including governments and civil society organisations (CSOs), in designing their humanitarian action and in setting and meeting standards for respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of children.


Humanitarian action for UNICEF encompasses interventions aimed at saving lives, alleviating suffering, maintaining human dignity and protecting rights of affected populations, wherever there are humanitarian needs, regardless of the kind of crisis (sudden-onset or protracted emergencies, natural disasters, public health emergencies, complex emergencies, international or internal armed conflicts, etc.[1]), irrespective of the Gross National Income level of a country (low, middle or high), or legal status of the affected populations. Humanitarian action also encompasses interventions addressing underlying risks and causes of vulnerability to disasters, fragility and conflict, such as system strengthening and resilience-building, which contribute to reducing humanitarian needs, risks and vulnerabilities of affected populations.

The CCCs:


Targeted audience and intended use

The CCCs are UNICEF’s core humanitarian policy and framework for humanitarian action.   They are:

  • A mandatory policy for all UNICEF personnel

  • A communication and advocacy instrument

  • A programming reference for UNICEF and its partners to design programmes and partnership agreements

  • A reference framework for planning, monitoring and reporting for every UNICEF Country Office (CO). CCC benchmarks are supported by existing accountability and reporting systems

  • A partnership tool for UNICEF and its partners to discuss mutual accountability

  • A one-stop shop on the most up-to-date humanitarian policies and guidance on programmes and operations

They are intended for both internal and external audiences:

  • All UNICEF personnel: to understand UNICEF’s mandate and implement the CCCs

  • Governments: to bear their primary responsibility for responding to a crisis and promoting the realisation of children’s rights; to understand how UNICEF and its partners can contribute to and support the response

  • UNICEF partners (i.e. governments, the UN system, civil society organisations (CSOs) including international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations, private sector, donors): to use as a programming reference, a partnership tool and a communication and advocacy instrument

  • All stakeholders (i.e. governments, the UN system, civil society organisations (CSOs) including international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations, private sector, donors, human rights institutions, academic and research institutions, media): to understand UNICEF’s mandate and commitments in emergencies and to advocate for children’s rights

  • Affected populations: to hold UNICEF accountable for its programme and operational commitments

They are published with the following companions:

  • The References comprise links to the international legal framework, norms and standards (Chapter 1) and to UNICEF and interagency guidance and handbooks on Programmes (Chapter 2) and Operations (Chapter 3)

  • The CCCs Indicator Guidance aligns UNICEF Programme Commitments (Chapter 2) with UNICEF planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting systems through a compendium of indicators

  • The CCCs Monitoring Framework for Operational Commitments provides the means and accountability for monitoring all UNICEF Operational Commitments (Chapter 3)

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Role of States

The Role of States

States remain the primary duty bearers for the respect, promotion and realisation of children’s rights.  They bear the primary responsibility for responding to a crisis, providing assistance to the victims and facilitating the work of humanitarian actors, including through mobilisation of domestic and international resources and use of national systems and capacities. UNICEF contributes to these efforts by mobilising national and international resources through its technical expertise, coordination and advocacy. States can use the CCCs to inform their humanitarian action and guide their efforts to meet the needs and protect the rights of affected populations.


UNICEF seeks to build an alliance around the CCCs with various stakeholders. The CCCs are realised through close collaboration with states; national and local authorities; affected populations; civil society organisations (CSOs), including international and national NGOs, community-based organisations, human rights institutions and faith-based organisations; the UN system, including its operational funds, agencies and programmes; donors; academic and research institutions; the private sector; and the media. 

At country level, UNICEF establishes partnerships with host governments, CSOs, communities and the private sector for programme implementation. The fulfilment of the CCCs is closely linked to UNICEF’s operational partners’ ability to deliver on the ground. The operational commitments (Chapter 3) describe UNICEF’s accountability to enable the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance by UNICEF and its partners.


The CCCs must be used by every Country Office (CO) as a framework to monitor the situation of women and children and take appropriate preparedness and response measures, in order to deliver predictable, timely, principled and child-centred humanitarian response.


The CCCs describe UNICEF commitments to the most disadvantaged children and their families, regardless of the kind of crisis (sudden-onset or protracted emergencies, natural disasters, public health emergencies, complex emergencies such as international or internal armed conflicts, etc), irrespective of the Gross National Income level of the country (low, middle or high) or legal status of the affected populations.

While the CCCs apply in all contexts, UNICEF’s scope of action and programming will be adapted to the context, based on the analysis of the situation, assessment of humanitarian needs and national capacities. UNICEF implementation modalities may include systems strengthening, through technical assistance, policy development and capacity-building; support for service delivery; direct programme implementation; intervention through operational partners; remote programming; coordination; and advocacy. 

The fulfilment of the CCCs depends on many factors, including availability of resources (cash, in-kind, technical expertise, core assets); UNICEF presence; partners’ presence, resources and their ability to deliver on the ground; access to affected populations and humanitarian space; and security conditions. In complex emergency situations, UNICEF commits to do the utmost effort to mobilise resources and advocate for humanitarian access to affected populations.  

The CCCs also apply in situations where UNICEF does not have direct access to affected populations. In this case, UNICEF does its utmost to respond to the protection and humanitarian needs of the affected populations. In cases where UNICEF operates through remote programming and monitoring, UNICEF still engages with communities remotely even when implementation and monitoring are executed through partners and third-party monitors.

Identification of populations in need, targeting of communities and locations and prioritisation are a core component of Country Offices’ strategic planning processes and day-to-day programmatic decisions. Through the targeting process, UNICEF aims at ensuring that the populations facing the most severe needs and with the worst prospects to meet their needs, are not left behind and are receiving humanitarian assistance.

Guiding parameters for the prioritisation include: the severity of humanitarian consequences; magnitude (estimated numbers of people in need); likely evolution of the needs; factors causing the needs; people’s own prioritisation of their needs; as well as interventions by other actors. Availability of funding, access constraints, security and other operational challenges should not be factored in the targeting and prioritisation process. These are considered at a later stage, during the planning and implementation phases, to inform the decision-making and day-to-day management of programmatic priorities by Country Office Senior Management.

In the case of a sudden onset or rapid deterioration of a humanitarian crisis, UNICEF priorities reaching those most at risk with critical activities such as life-saving interventions. 

Performance Monitoring

The CCCs are fundamental to UNICEF’s planning, monitoring and evaluation architecture and guide UNICEF’s contribution to the interagency Humanitarian Programme Cycle.

Programme commitments and benchmarks (Chapter 2) are supported by the CCCs Indicator Guidance to help Country Offices (COs) plan, monitor and report against their humanitarian programming. 

Operational commitments and benchmarks (Chapter 3) are supported by the CCCs Operational Monitoring Framework for Operational Commitments, using UNICEF’s corporate systems to track performance.

Systematic reference to the CCCs in UNICEF planning and reporting documents supports their implementation and strengthens UNICEF accountability to deliver on the CCCs. UNICEF builds on its existing performance monitoring system[3] to measure progress and report against the CCCs regularly.

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[1] A humanitarian crisis is defined as any circumstance where humanitarian needs are sufficiently large and complex to require significant external assistance and resources, and where a multi-sectoral response is needed, with the engagement of a wide range of international humanitarian actors (IASC). This may include smaller-scale emergencies; in countries with limited capacities, the threshold will be lower than in countries with strong capacities. An emergency is a situation that threatens the lives and well-being of large numbers of a population and requires extraordinary action to ensure their survival, care and protection.

[2] The UN system-wide agenda for Sustaining Peace focuses on the contribution the UN system can make to end some of the world’s most devastating and protracted armed conflicts and support UN Member States in their efforts to prevent armed conflict and sustain peace.  See General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/262 and Security Council resolution S/RES/2282 (2016).

[3] Virtual Integrated System of Information (VISION).

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