Centre for Humanitarian Action


The CHA Newsletter 



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Who we are

The Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA) is a Berlin-based think tank, which advocates independent analysis, critical discussion and public communication of principle-oriented humanitarian action. The CHA is an initiative of humanitarian non-governmental organisations that aims to strengthen German humanitarian action. The CHA is meant to complement and strengthen existing humanitarian action institutions and networks in Germany and not replace them.


What we do

Since July 2018 we have embarked on a three-year start-up phase in which the CHA is set up with its own staff and premises in Berlin. To this end we are grateful for support and backing from humanitarian NGOs, from scientific institutions as well as other actors in humanitarian action.


Why do we need the CHA?

The volume of humanitarian aid from Germany has multiplied over the last decades. Given that the implementation according to humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality is very demanding, especially as most humanitarian action takes place in the context of armed conflicts, the analysis, critical reflection and debate on humanitarian action have not kept up with the expansion. Thus, an independent Centre for Humanitarian Action in Germany, maintained by civil society, is needed as a think tank and intellectual resource centre in line with humanitarian principles.


Main topics of the CHA 


Analysis and reflection

Self-critical reflection on humanitarian practice and discourse between civil society actors, academia, and the public sphere in Germany and beyond: Research and analysis, based on prevailing challenges and concerns of principle-oriented humanitarian action. The CHA should be independent, i.e. with funds of its own. In addition, assignments financed by third parties may also be carried out, as long as these are covered by the CHA’s general principles.


Debate and policy engagement

The CHA puts its findings up for debate and serves as a forum for discussion with national and international humanitarian actors and with academic networks. By linking this debate with policy-making processes, CHA aims at improving humanitarian action.


Imparting knowledge and know-how

The CHA promotes communication and education on the basic principles and the practice of humanitarian action in public and in political discourse. The imparting of knowledge and know-how, for instance in civic education, comprises the principles, the necessity and dilemmas of humanitarian action. To this end and for advanced training purposes the CHA has the ability to offer seminars at a fee.


Building bridges

The CHA is not meant to be a purely academic institution, nor is it meant to represent humanitarian organisations vis-à-vis the German Federal Government. Rather, the CHA builds a bridge between academic analysis of humanitarian action topics and practical project and programme work. It also bridges international discussions and the debate in Germany. The results of this work and the ensuing recommendations should be as freely accessible as possible to all interested actors.


What is the legal status of the CHA?

The CHA is organized as a permanent programme of the Maecenata Foundation (see below), which will take full legal and organisational responsibility. The contract between the Maecenata Foundation and three humanitarian NGOs is for a three-year period, for which the three NGOs will provide core funding. At the end of this period, an evaluation will lead to a long-term solution. During the initial period, the three NGOs + future contributors will form an advisory board.


How is the CHA funded?

For the Centre for Humanitarian Action to be as independent, practice-oriented and anchored in civil society as possible, significant contributions from humanitarian NGOs are envisaged. The core of the CHA comes from independent from public financing. In order to ensure long-term and reliable financing, public and other means are also under consideration. Individual donors should not be able to influence content.



Sonja Hövelmann
Research Associate Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA)
Tel. +49 30 2838 79 09
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