Core Commitments

for Children

are the core UNICEF policy and framework for humanitarian action


Access (humanitarian)

Humanitarian access entails the ability of humanitarian actors to reach populations affected by crisis, as well as an affected population’s ability to access humanitarian assistance and services. Practically, this means UNICEF and its partners are able to deliver, and/or have vulnerable children receive, humanitarian assistance and protection in a manner that is rapid, unimpeded and consistent; is in line with international law and UNICEF’s humanitarian and CRC principles, and CCC standards; reaches all targeted populations with the required assistance and protection services; and enables assessments, assistance/service delivery as well as monitoring and evaluation. (UNICEF, Access Field Manual, 2020)

Accessible (for services)

Means that there are no practical, financial, physical, security-related, structural, institutional or cultural barriers to accessing services or facilities. This can refer to the general population (universal access), or to equitable access of people with specific needs. (Sphere, Sphere Glossary, 2019, p. 1.)

Accountability to affected populations (AAP)

Commitment to use power responsibly by taking account of, giving account to, and being held to account by the people humanitarian organisations seek to assist by putting communities and people at the centre of humanitarian action and promoting respect for their fundamental human rights underpinned by the right to life with dignity, and the right to protection and security as set forth in international law. (UNICEF, Accountability to Affected Populations Handbook (draft), 2019, p. 5.) This results in the ability of all vulnerable, at-risk and crisis-affected girls, women and men supported through UNICEF humanitarian actions to hold UNICEF as an organization to account for promoting and protecting their rights and generating effective results for them, taking into

account their needs, concerns and preferences, and working in ways that enhance their dignity, capacities and resilience. (UNICEF, Putting People at the Centre of Humanitarian Action: Integrating accountability to affected people, March 2017)

Advocacy (for UNICEF)

Process, based on demonstrated evidence, to directly and indirectly influence decision makers, stakeholders and relevant audiences to support and implement actions that contribute to the fulfilment of children’s and women’s rights. (UNICEF 2010 Advocacy Toolkit, 2010, p. 3.)

Asylum seekers

Individuals who seek safety from persecution or serious harm in a country other than their own and await a decision on their application for refugee status. (International Organization for Migration, Glossary on Migration, International Migration Law Series no. 25, IOM, 2011, p. 12.)

Balancing coverage and equity (for UNICEF)

Process which consists in balancing the objective to reach the greatest number of people (coverage) with the objective to reach the people in greatest need (equity), while maintaining quality of programme. This balancing is particularly critical in contexts with limited funding. Coverage is guided by estimates of people in need. Quality is measured against UNICEF and interagency and IASC standards. Equity is judged by appropriate prioritisation of the people most in need, informed by assessment and analysis of vulnerability and deprivation, and the principle of leaving no child behind. Balancing coverage with equity requires access to, and use of, disaggregated data about the different needs of different groups of affected populations, in order to target and reach the most disadvantaged groups. (Evaluation of the Coverage and Quality of the UNICEF Humanitarian Response in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, January 2019)


(for persons with disabilities): Factors that prevent a person from having full and equal access and participation in society. These can be environmental, including physical barriers (such as the presence of stairs and the absence of a ramp or an elevator) and communication barriers (such as only one format being used to provide information), attitudinal barriers (such as negative perceptions of older people or people with disabilities) and institutional barriers (such as policies that can lead to discrimination against certain groups). Some barriers exist prior to the conflict or natural disaster; others may be created as an unintended consequence of the humanitarian response.

Best interests of the child

The right of the child to have his or her best interests assessed and taken as

a primary consideration in reaching a decision. It refers to the well-being of a child and is determined by a variety of individual circumstances (age, level of maturity, the presence or absence of parents, the child’s environment and experiences). (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Best Interests Determination (BID)

Formal process with strict procedural safeguards designed to determine the child’s best interests for particularly important decisions affecting the child. It should facilitate adequate child participation without discrimination, involve decision-makers with relevant areas of expertise and balance all relevant factors in order to identify and recommend the best option. (UNHCR Best Interests Determination Handbook 2011, p. 110)

Best interests’ procedure

UNHCR’s individual case management procedure to ensure that the best

interest’s principle (set out in Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) is respected in work with individual children of concern. It is a multi-step process that goes through identification, assessment, case action planning, implementation, follow-up and case closure. It includes two important procedural elements: the Best Interests Assessment (BIA) and the Best Interests Determination (BID). States and other actors are also obliged to establish formal procedures for assessing and determining the best interests of an individual child or a group of children where decisions would have a major impact on the child or group of children. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Business continuity

Business continuity is the capability of the organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels in a timely manner following a disruptive event. It means that UNICEF offices at all levels (HQ, Regional, and Country) must be able to maintain continuity of critical functions during and following a disaster and/or crisis event.

Business continuity plan (BCP)

A plan which documents the necessary measures and procedures, in advance of a disruptive event, to ensure continuation of critical business services, allowing UNICEF to better respond to disruptive events and take necessary actions to mitigate the impact on its assets and operations.


A person who provides daily care, protection and supervision of a child. This does not necessarily imply legal responsibility. Where possible, the child should have continuity in who provides their day-to-day care. A customary caregiver is someone that the community has accepted, either by tradition or common practice, to provide the daily care, protection and supervision of a child. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Case management

An approach to address the needs of an individual child and their family in an appropriate, systematic and timely manner, through direct support and/or referrals. For children this is done in accordance with the child’s best interest. Case management services can be provided to address the needs of children and women who have already been harmed (such as separated children) or to prevent harm for women and children with heightened vulnerabilities or risks. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)


A person below the age of 18 years.

  • Infant: below 12 months
  • Young child: 0-8 years
  • Preschool children: 2-5 years
  • Middle childhood: 5-9 years
  • Adolescent: 10-19 years (early adolescence: 10-14 years, late adolescence: 15-19 years)
  • Youth: 15-24 years
  • Young people: 10-24 years


Working methods that do not discriminate against children and that take into account their age, evolving capacities, diversity and capabilities. These methods promote children’s confidence and ability to learn, speak out, share and express their views. Sufficient time and appropriate information and materials are provided and communicated effectively to children. Staff and adults are approachable, respectful and responsive. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Child-friendly spaces (CFS)

Safe spaces where communities (and humanitarian actors) create nurturing

environments in which children can access free and structured play, recreation, leisure and learning activities. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Child participation

The manifestation of the right of every child to express his or her view, to have that view given all due consideration, to influence decision-making and to achieve change. It is the informed and willing involvement of all children, including the most marginalised and those of different ages, genders and disabilities, in any matter concerning them. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Child safeguarding

The responsibility that organisations have to make sure their staff, operations, and programmes do no harm to children. It includes policy, procedures and practices to prevent children from being harmed by humanitarian organisations as well as steps to respond and investigate when harm occurs. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)

Children Associated with an Armed Force or Armed Group

Refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking, or has taken, a direct part in hostilities. (“Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups” (2007)

Civil-military coordination

Entails the essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimize inconsistency, and when appropriate, pursue common goals (OCHA, Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination)

Civil society organizations (CSOs)

Includes community-based (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, religious groups, women's organisations, academic institutions and other private, voluntary groups.

Community-based organizations (CBOs)

Small and often informal groups serving communities.


Established by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in 2005, the cluster system provides a framework for effective partnership among international humanitarian actors, host governments, local authorities, local civil society agencies, affected populations, and other relevant stakeholders (such as the private sector) in 9 sectors: Health, Nutrition, WASH, Food security, Logistics, Shelter, Telecoms, Protection, Education, Early Recovery. At country level, it aims to strengthen partnerships, and the predictability and accountability of international humanitarian action, by improving prioritization and clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian organizations.

  1. Supporting service delivery by providing a platform for agreement on approaches and elimination of duplication
  2. Informing strategic decision-making of the HC/HCT for the humanitarian response through coordination of needs assessment, gap analysis and prioritization
  3. Planning and strategy development including sectoral plans, adherence to standards and funding needs
  4. Advocacy to address identified concerns on behalf of cluster participants and the affected population
  5. Monitoring and reporting on the cluster strategy and results; recommending corrective action where necessary
  6. Contingency planning/preparedness/national capacity building where needed and where capacity exists within the cluster.

Globally, UNICEF is responsible for leading/co-leading three clusters: Water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH), Nutrition, Education (co-led with Save the Children) – as well as one area of responsibility (AOR), Child Protection under the Protection Cluster.

Collective outcome

A concrete and measurable result that humanitarian, development and other relevant actors want to achieve jointly over a period of 3-5 years to reduce people’s needs, risks and vulnerabilities and increase their resilience.

Community engagement

A dynamic process connecting the community and other stakeholders so that crisis-affected people have more control over the response and its impact on them. It is a means of ensuring the accountability of humanitarian actors by facilitating and structuring ongoing communication on the appropriateness and effectiveness of initiatives and engaging communities directly in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of activities. (Sphere, Sphere Glossary, 2019 and UNICEF, Minimum Quality Standards and Indicators in Community Engagement, 2020.)

Complex and high-threat environment

Humanitarian contexts where multiple and complex factors impact the operating environment, including but not limited to armed conflict, restricted access to affected populations, civil or political upheaval, large-scale violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Humanitarian response in these contexts is conducted in a difficult political and highly insecure environment. (Evaluation of the Coverage and Quality of the UNICEF Humanitarian Response in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, January 2019)

Conflict sensitivity

The capacity of an organisation to understand its operating context, the interaction between its interventions and the context, and act upon this understanding to avoid negative impacts (“do no harm”) and maximise positive impacts on conflict factors.


The extent to which major population groups facing life-threatening suffering are being (or were) reached by humanitarian action. (UNICEF, Evaluation of the Coverage and Quality of the UNICEF Humanitarian Response in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, 2019.)


Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Do no harm

An approach to avoid unintended negative consequences in any situation in which humanitarian agencies operate in order that the humanitarian response might not further endanger affected persons and might not undermine communities' capacities for peacebuilding and reconstruction

Duty of care

A non-waivable duty on the part of UNICEF to mitigate or otherwise address foreseeable risks that may harm or injure its personnel and eligible family members

Early childhood and development (ECD)

Comprehensive approach to policies and programs for children from the prenatal period to eight years of age. Early childhood refers to the period of life from 0-8 or age of school entry (three distinct phases include: from conception to birth, from birth to 3 years, with emphasis on the first 1000 days, and preschool or pre-primary years (age of school entry). Development is defined as an outcome, it is the continuous process of acquiring skills and abilities during this age period across the domains of cognition, language, motor, social and emotional development. This development is a result of the interaction between the environment and the child (the key aspects of the environment is “nurturing care”).


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 (IASC).

Complex emergency

A humanitarian crisis in a country, region or society where there is a significant or total breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which requires an international response that extends beyond the mandate or capacity of any single agency

Protracted emergency

Major humanitarian crisis in which a large proportion of a population in a country is vulnerable to death, disease or disruption of their livelihood over a significant period of time

Sudden-onset emergency

Humanitarian crisis for which there is little or no warning

Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)

Process of identifying and assessing risk and establishing measures or controls to bring risks within the organizational risk tolerance. This includes activities to realize opportunities while mitigating the negative consequences of potential events. ERM enables a systematic and proactive identification, assessment and management of risks and opportunities using a common language, structure and tool (eGRC), that provides UNICEF with insight and context to manage risks with effectiveness, efficiency and agility, make risk-informed decisions, understand performance and achieve better results for children and youth.

Equity (for UNICEF)

UNICEF’s equity-based approach in humanitarian action means that’s UNICEF’s humanitarian response strives to focus on the most disadvantaged communities to realise the rights of every child starting with the most deprived. UNICEF seeks to understand and address the root causes of discrimination and inequity, often exacerbated by emergencies, so that all children and women, particularly those most vulnerable, have an opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potential, without discrimination, bias or favouritism. Equity also means identifying risks and underlying vulnerabilities, targeting humanitarian action to and prioritizing the needs of those most vulnerable and disadvantaged.


When an individual in a position of power and/or trust takes or attempts to take advantage of a child for their own personal benefit, advantage, gratification, or profit. This personal benefit may take different forms: physical, sexual, financial, material, social, military, or political. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action,2019)


Assessment, conducted as systematically and impartially as possible, of an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme, sector, operational area or institutional performance. It analyses the level of achievement of both expected and unexpected results by examining the results chain, processes, contextual factors and causality using such appropriate criteria as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. (United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), Norms and Standards for Evaluation, 2016.)

Feedback and reporting mechanism

Formal system established and used to allow recipients of humanitarian action (and in some cases, other crisis-affected populations) to provide information on

their experience with a humanitarian agency or the wider humanitarian system. Such information is then used for different purposes, including taking corrective action to improve some element of the response. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)


Social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys. It differs from sex which is defined most often at birth based on biological anatomy. Non-binary gender identity refers to any gender identity or expression which does not fit the male/female or boy/girl binary. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Gender equality

When women and men, girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, and protections. Gender equality requires addressing the power imbalances in economic, political, and social systems that generally bias these rights, resources and opportunities against women and girls. It also means that girls and women have ability to use their rights and capabilities to make choices and decisions about their own lives without the fear of coercion or violence. Gender equality does not require that girls and boys or women and men be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike, but rather implies an absence of bias or discrimination.

Gender mainstreaming

A strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, plans and programmes in all spheres - political, economic, social, environmental - so that women and men equally enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, and protections.

Gender-based violence

Umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will

and that is based on socially ascribed (i.e. gender) differences between males and females. It includes acts that inflict physical, sexual, mental and economic harm or suffering; threats of such acts; coercion; and deprivations of liberty whether occurring in public or private life. The term is primarily used to describe violence caused by an expression of power inequalities between women and men that gives women and girls lesser social, economic and political power in relation to men and boys. (Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action, 2015.)


(i) the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country's affairs at all levels, comprising the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences.3 (ii) the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised for the common good, including the processes by which those in authority are selected, monitored and replaced; the capacity of the government to effectively manage its resources and implement sound policies; and the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them4; (iii) the process of creating an organizational vision and mission - what it will be and what it will do - in addition to defining the goals and objectives that should be met to achieve the vision and mission; of articulating the organization, its owners and the policies that derive from these values - policies concerning the options that its members should have in order to achieve the desired outcomes; and adopting the management necessary for achieving those results and a performance evaluation of the managers and the organization as a whole (WHO Glossary)

Human rights / child rights

Rights that every human being is entitled to enjoy simply by virtue of being

human. They identify the minimum conditions for living with dignity that apply to all of us. They are universal and inalienable: they cannot be taken away. As human beings, children are human rights holders. Additionally, they have a specific set of human rights – often referred to as child rights – pertaining to persons under the age of 18 and enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of

the Child (CRC), 1989. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

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, or complex emergencies such as 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.

[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 multisectoral response is needed, with the engagement of a wide range of international humanitarian actors. 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.

Humanitarian cash transfer

Provision of assistance in the form of money (either physical currency/cash or e-cash) to individuals, households or communities as part of a humanitarian response. Cash transfers as a modality are distinct from both vouchers and in-kind assistance.

Humanitarian crisis

Serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts that exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources and therefore requires urgent action. 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).

Humanitarian principles

Underlining all humanitarian action are the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. These principles, derived from IHL, have been taken up by the United Nations in General Assembly resolutions 46/182 and 58/114. The CCCs are grounded in humanitarian principles and UNICEF is committed to applying humanitarian principles in its humanitarian action.

Humanitarian response

Provision of services and assistance during or immediately after a specific emergency in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety, maintain human dignity and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected. It should be governed by the key humanitarian principles. (UNICEF, Guidance on Risk-Informed Programming, 2018, p. 9.). See Humanitarian Action.

Human smuggling

Procuring the undocumented entry of a person into a State of which the person is not a national or permanent resident, in exchange for a direct or indirect financial or other material benefit. (United Nations Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, art. 3(a), 2000.)


Positive and/or negative long-term effects on population groups produced by an intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. These effects can be economic, socio-cultural, institutional, environmental, technological or of other types. (OECD, Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management, 2010, p. 24.).


In humanitarian action refers to actions taken to ensure the right to information, protection and assistance for all persons affected by crisis, irrespective of age, sexual and gender identity, disability status, nationality, or ethnic, religious or social origin or identity. Inclusive action focuses on identifying and removing barriers so that those individuals and groups who are more vulnerable, marginalized and/or excluded can participate in decision-making and benefit from humanitarian action on an equal basis with others.

Infection and prevention control (IPC)

Scientific approach and practical solution designed to prevent harm caused by infection to patients and health workers. It is grounded in infectious diseases, epidemiology, social science and health system strengthening. (UNICEF, COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response, WASH and Infection Prevention and Control in Health Facilities, Guidance Note, 2020; and WHO, Clean Care is Safer Care: Infection Prevention and Control).

Multi-sectoral and Integrated approach (for UNICEF)

Intentional combining of two or more sector interventions in the design and implementation of programmes to achieve humanitarian outcomes. This includes the application of geographic convergence. Sector are encouraged to operate in the same geographic locations, coordinate the planning, financing and implementation of programmes, contribute to each other’s goals and results, in order to deliver more sustainable, cost-effective and at-scale outcomes. Examples of multi-sectoral and integrated programming include the combining of Health, Nutrition, WASH, Child Protection, ECD and HIV for SAM treatment; the combining of Health, WASH and Community engagement for behavior and social change for the response to disease outbreaks; the combining of Education and WASH for menstrual health and hygiene in schools; and of Education and Child Protection for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).

Internally displaced persons (IDPs)

Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes, or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border. (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 1998)

International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

Body of rules, that protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and regulates how wars can be fought. The rules apply to governments and their armed forces, and to non-state actors (NSAs). IHL is made up of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 as well as subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international humanitarian law. (OCHA Glossary)

Large movements

“Large movements” may involve mixed flows of people, whether refugees or migrants, who move for different reasons but who may use similar routes. This reflects a number of considerations, including: the number of people arriving, the economic, social and geographical context, the capacity of a receiving State to respond and the impact of a movement that is sudden or prolonged. (New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, 2016)

Levels of emergency response (for UNICEF)

Level 1: The scale of an emergency is such that a country office can respond using its own staff, funding, supplies and other resources, and the usual regional office/headquarters support. Level 2: The scale of an emergency is such that a country office needs additional support from other parts of the organization (headquarters, regional office and country offices) to respond and that the regional office must provide leadership and support. Level 3: The scale of the emergency requires organization-wide mobilization.

Life-course approach

Approach which aims at increasing the effectiveness of interventions throughout a person’s life. It focuses on a healthy start to life and targets the needs of people at critical periods throughout their lifetime. A life-course approach builds on the interaction of multiple promotive, protective and risk factors throughout people’s lives. It adopts a temporal and societal perspective on the health of individuals and generations, including intergenerational determinants of health.

Life skills

Skills and abilities that enable individuals to adapt to and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They help people think, feel, act and interact as individuals and as participating members of society. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Linking humanitarian and development (for UNICEF)

Fostering the coherence and complementarity between humanitarian and development actions to strengthen systems that deliver essential services to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. UNICEF humanitarian programmes address the urgent needs of children affected by crises in the short- and medium-term, while its development programmes contribute to reducing their needs, vulnerabilities and risks in a sustainable and longer-term manner. Both therefore contribute to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals for the world’s most disadvantaged children and are designed to strengthen policies and programmes related to climate change, disaster risk reduction and peacebuilding, with the aim to mitigate risks and build resilience for children and their communities. (Update on UNICEF humanitarian action with a focus on linking humanitarian and development programming, February 2019)


Localizing humanitarian response is a process of recognizing, respecting and strengthening the leadership and capacity of local communities, civil society organizations, and authorities in humanitarian action, to better address the needs of children affected by humanitarian crisis and to prepare national and sub-national actors for future humanitarian responses. (UNICEF, Approach to Localization in Humanitarian Action in UNICEF, 2019, p. 1.)


Individuals who move or have moved across an international border or away from their habitual place of residence within a state – regardless of their legal status, whether they move voluntary or involuntary, why they move, or how long they stay. (International Organization for Migration, Glossary on Migration, International Migration Law Series no. 25, IOM, 2011, p. 61.)


Groups with shared ethnic, cultural, religious and/or linguistic characteristics, typically non-dominant vis-à-vis the majority, in the spheres of economic, political, social and/or cultural life.

Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)

Any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well-being and prevent or treat mental health conditions. MHPSS programmes aim to (1) reduce and prevent harm, (2) strengthen resilience to recover from adversity, and (3) improve the care conditions that enable children and families to survive and thrive. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM)

Established in 2005 under the request of the UN Security Council in its Resolution 1612 the monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM), to provide timely and reliable information on six grave children’s rights violations: the killing and maiming of children; recruitment and the use of children by parties to conflict; rape or other grave sexual violence against children; abduction of children; attacks against schools or hospitals; and the denial of humanitarian access for children. MRM is managed by country-based task forces co-led by UNICEF and the highest UN representative in the country.


Process of influencing individuals or groups through joint decision-making. It requires the consent of all parties to participate in the process and to accept and respect the agreed outcome. (OCHA, Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups: A Manual for Practitioners, 2006, p. 5.)


Principle that unfair distinctions should not be made between children, people or communities on any grounds, including age, sex, gender, race, colour, ethnicity, national or social origin, sexual orientation, HIV status, language, civil documentation, religion, disability, health status, political or other opinion, or other status. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Non-state actors (NSAs)

Non-state actors include armed or unarmed groups and, depending on the context, could include militias, armed opposition groups, guerrillas, pandillas (e.g., gangs) and paramilitary groups; or state-like groups (e.g., a self-declared state that is not recognized, or only partially recognized, by the international community); or ‘de facto authorities’, which have effective control of territory and self-governing administration but do not seek independence or secession.

Nurturing care

Conditions created by public policies, programmes, and services, which enable communities and caregivers to ensure children’s developmental needs through good health, hygiene and nutrition practices, early learning, protecting them from threats and responsive caregiving.


Processes and activities that allow crisis-affected people to play an active role in all decision-making processes that affect them. Participation is a right and is voluntary. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)


Long-term process of creating the necessary conditions for sustainable peace and development by reducing the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict and by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management. It includes a multidimensional range of measures and interventions that seek to reduce the risk of lapse or relapse into violent conflict, by addressing the dynamics and underlying causes and consequences of conflict, and by strengthening national capacities to lay the foundations for sustainable peace and resilient development. Peacebuilding is multidimensional (political, security, social and economic dimensions), occurs at all levels in a society (national to community levels), and includes multiple stakeholders including governments, civil society, the UN system, as well as an array of international and national partners. (UNDPKO terminology)

Protection of civilians in armed conflict

Structures and policies developed by the UN, states and other humanitarian actors, and based in international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law, to protect vulnerable populations from the effects of armed conflict, ranging from the most immediate priorities of minimizing civilian casualties, including killing, maiming and sexual violence, to more long-term priorities of promoting the rule of law and security, law and order within a state. (OCHA Glossary)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Consists of garments placed to protect the health care workers or any other persons from potential infection. These usually consist of gloves, mask, gown. In case of blood or airborne high infections, it will include face protection, goggles and mask or face shield, gloves, gown or coverall, head cover, rubber boots (WHO, Medical devices: Personal protective equipment).

(Emergency) Preparedness

Mechanisms and systems put in place in advance to enable an effective and timely emergency response to humanitarian crisis, based on analysis of the risks in a particular context, taking into account national and regional capacities. (UNICEF, Preparedness for Emergency Response in UNICEF: Guidance Note, 2016, p. 44.)

Programme criticality

Component of the United Nations Security Management System’s (UNSMS) Guidelines for Acceptable Risk. approach that involves determining which programmes are the most critical in a given part of a country (in terms of saving lives or requiring immediate delivery) and therefore warrant accepting a greater level of risk or a greater allocation of resources to mitigate these risks. (United Nations System Programme Criticality Framework,2013)

Programme Criticality Assessment (PCA)

Assessment of the criticality levels of all UN tasks and programme activities, which takes place at regular intervals at country level and is required for ensuring that critical programmes are implemented within levels of acceptable risk. (United Nations System Programme Criticality Framework,2013)

Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA)

The term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.” (UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) (ST/SGB/2003/13)). The Term PSEA is used by the UN and NGO community to refer to measures taken to prevent, mitigate and respond to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by their own staff and associated persons, including community volunteers, military and government officials engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance

Protection mainstreaming

Process of incorporating protection principles and promoting meaningful

access, safety and dignity in humanitarian aid. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Provider of Last Resort (POLR)

Where necessary, and depending on access, security and availability of funding, the cluster lead, as POLR, must be ready to ensure the provision of services required to fulfil critical gaps identified by the cluster and reflected in the Humanitarian Response Plan. And where this is not possible due to lack of access or resources, the POLR must continue advocating for adequate access and resources to be granted in order to fulfil the identified needs.


In the humanitarian sector, quality means effectiveness (impact), efficiency (timeliness and costs), appropriateness (taking account of rights, needs, culture, age, gender, disabilities and context), and equity (non-discrimination and equal access) of elements of a humanitarian response. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)


Restoration, and improvement where appropriate, of facilities, livelihoods and living conditions of disaster-affected communities, including efforts to reduce disaster risk factors.


All persons who are outside their country of origin who have been granted protection in another country for reasons of a well-founded fear of persecution on one of the grounds listed in the 1951 Convention (on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinions), or because a conflict, generalised violence or other circumstances that have

seriously disturbed public order, and who, as a result, require international protection. (Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, art. 1A(2), 1951, as modified by the 1967 Protocol.)

Remote programming

Programming without the presence of staff due to unacceptable security risks or denial of access by authorities. (UNICEF, Remote Programming in Humanitarian Action: Programme guidance, 2012.)


Ability of a system, community, society or individual exposed to hazards, to overcome the damaging effects of adversities, to resist, absorb, adapt to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential structures and functions. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019). UNICEF defines resilience as the ability of children, communities and systems to anticipate, prevent, withstand, adapt to and recover from stresses and shocks advancing the rights of every child, especially the most disadvantaged. (UNICEF Position Paper on Resilience)


In humanitarian action, risk is the likelihood of harm occurring from a hazard and the potential losses to lives, livelihoods, assets and services. It is the probability of external and internal threats occurring in combination with the existence of individual vulnerabilities. For child protection, risk refers to the likelihood that violations of and threats to children’s rights will manifest and cause harm to children. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Risk Management

Risk management is the process of identifying and assessing risk and establishing measures or controls to bring risks within the organizational risk tolerance. Risk management includes activities to realize opportunities while mitigating the negative consequences of events. In the UN Security Management System (UNSMS), risk management is a structured approach to identifying and assessing threats to the UN, enabling identification of Security Risk Management measures to reduce the level of assessed risk and enhancing the decision-making process in line with the Framework of Accountability, UNSMS policies and guidelines. (UN Security Management System Policy Manual, Policy on Security Risk Management (SRM), Chapter IV, Section A, page 53)

Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE)

Range of communication, behaviour change, social and community mobilization strategies used in containing outbreaks (UNICEF, Risk Communication and Community Engagement for Zika Virus Prevention and Control A Guidance and Resource Package for Country Offices for Coordination, Planning, Key Messages and Actions, 2016, p.1).

Risk-informed programming

Approach to programming that aims to reduce the risk of shocks and stresses on children's well-being, their communities and systems, contributing to resilient development. It is based on a robust analysis of shocks (sudden and potentially damaging phenomenon or hazard) and stresses (chronic in nature and can occur over a longer period of time) as well as the underlying vulnerabilities and capacities in a given risk-prone, conflict-affected or fragile context. (UNICEF, Preparedness for Emergency Response in UNICEF: Guidance Note, 2016, p. 6.).

Saving Lives Together (SLT)

is a series of recommendations aimed at enhancing security collaboration between the United Nations, International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and International Organizations (IOs). It recognizes the collectively experienced security threats and the importance of collaboration to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian and development assistance. The objective of SLT is to enhance the ability of partner organizations to make informed decisions and implement effective security arrangements to improve the safety and security of personnel and operations. (UN Security Management System Policy Manual, Chapter II, Section G, Saving Lives Together, page 49)

Security Risk Management (SRM)

is a United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) analytical process for assessing the operation context of the UN in order to identify the risk level of threats that may affect UN personnel, assets, premises, and operations on the basis of which, security management decisions are made. (Security Risk Management Manual, page. 1)

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)

Any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will that is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It encompasses threats of violence and coercion. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual in nature, and can take the form of a denial of resources or access to services. It inflicts harm on women, girls, men and boys. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Social cohesion

The quality of bonds and dynamics that exist between different groups within a society. Groups can be distinguished in terms of regional, ethnic or socio-cultural identities, religious and political beliefs, social class or economic sector, or on the basis of characteristics such as gender and age. (Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding: Programming Guide, 2016, p. 12.)

Social mobilization

Process to engage wide networks of stakeholders (e.g. traditional, faith-based, community and opinion leaders, civil society and the private sector) around a common cause or issue. Social mobilisation catalyses different groups to take action and/or support change for a common cause. Through alliance-building and partnerships often combined with media campaigns, social mobilisation also engages and motivates various partners at national and local levels to raise awareness of, and demand for, a particular objective and to provide sustainable, multi-faceted solutions to broad social issues.

Essential Services

Range of public services provided by the government, private, profit and non-profit organizations related to health care, education, access to water and sanitation, housing, electricity and other services whereby the interruption of which would endanger the life, health or personal safety of the whole or part of the population (ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, 2001, p. 293.). For UNICEF, it includes services related to primary health care, nutrition, HIV, water hygiene and sanitation, education, social protection, and child protection. Continuity of essential services means to ensure the continued provision of primary health care (including immunizations, maternal, new born, child and adolescent health (MNCAH), sexual and reproductive health (SRH), HIV/AIDS, GBV response care), nutrition, continued access to safe water and sanitation, continued provision of child protection services, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), continuity of learning through maintained access to education, continuity of social protection systems, and other services depending on the situation.

Stateless person

Person not considered a national by any state, who as such lacks the rights that come from national diplomatic protection of a State and may not be entitled to return in case he or she leaves. (United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, art. 1, 1954; International Organization for Migration, ‘Key Migration Terms’, https://www.iom.int/key-migration-terms)

Sustaining Peace

Approach to peacebuilding outlined in the twin UN sustaining peace resolutions (A/RES/70/262 and S/RES/2282), which calls on actors to proactively supporting peace capacities wherever they already exist. While the starting point for peacebuilding is conflict, the sustaining peace approach seeks to understand and reinforce what’s already underpinning social cohesion, sustainable development, the rule of law and human security

Systems strengthening (for UNICEF)

A system is defined as consisting of all people, institutions, policies, resources, and activities whose primary purpose is to deliver a public essential service to populations. See Essential Services. For UNICEF aims at supporting health, education, water, hygiene and sanitation, social protection and child protection systems, by supporting one or all of the following functions: human resources; finance; policies; governance; information management and data collection; supply of products, equipment, technologies; service delivery, in order to improve access, coverage, quality, and efficiency of the system.

Trafficking in human beings

Recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving people for the purpose of exploitation, by means such as coercion, deception, abuse of vulnerability, or payment to someone who has control of the intended victim. For children, the means do not matter, as long as the purpose is exploitation. Trafficking can take place within the borders of a State or across borders. (United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, art. 3(a), 2000; International Organization for Migration, ‘Key Migration Terms’, https://www.iom.int/key-migration-terms)

Unaccompanied and separated children (UASC)

‘Unaccompanied’ children have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so. ‘Separated’ children are separated from both parents or from their previous legal or customary primary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may, therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

UNICEF personnel

All individuals holding a letter of appointment issued under UN Staff Rule 4.1., as well as those working with UNICEF under an individual agreement with UNICEF, including but not limited to: volunteers, interns, consultants, individual contractors, gratis personnel and stand-by personnel.

UNICEF staff

All individuals holding a letter of appointment issued under UN Staff Rule 4.1., including both international and locally recruited staff, regardless of their types of appointment (fixed term, continuing/permanent, temporary appointment).

Urban contexts

The definition of ‘urban’ varies from country to country. An urban area can be defined by one or more of the following: administrative criteria or political boundaries (e.g., area within the jurisdiction of a municipality or town committee), a threshold population size, population density, economic function or the presence of urban characteristics (e.g., paved streets, electric lighting, sewerage). (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)


The extent to which some people may be disproportionately affected by the disruption of their physical environment and social support mechanisms following disaster or conflict. Vulnerability is specific to each person and each situation. This may be determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors. For child protection, vulnerability refers to individual, family, community and societal characteristics that reduce children’s ability to withstand adverse impact from violations of and threats to their rights. (Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, 2019)

Vulnerable group

Vulnerable groups are those most exposed to risk, and particularly susceptible to the effects of environmental, economic, social and political shocks and hazards. Vulnerable groups may include: children, adolescents, women, older people, pregnant adolescents and women, child and female-headed households, people with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, people from marginalized groups and the poorest of the poor, people marginalized by their society due to their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity, disability status, class or caste, political affiliations or religion. The typology of vulnerable groups may evolve depending on contexts and risks.