3. Applying the policy in practice

Humanitarian space is essential to the effectiveness of an emergency response and is not always guaranteed. As such, it is important that CARE’s policy is put into practice. Some critical policy issues that allow CARE better access to humanitarian space are listed below.


  • To maintain a safe and secure humanitarian space, CARE personnel must abide by CARE’s guiding principles of the humanitarian imperative, independence and impartiality. Not keeping to these principles can cause humanitarian work to be undermined, and may risk the lives of humanitarian workers and beneficiaries.
  • On staging a relief operation, it should be made clear that the relief effort is in no way involved with or influenced by conflicting parties or politics. CARE’s independence and impartiality should be stressed at all times.
  • Humanitarian space is most at risk of being violated when the lines between military operations and relief efforts become blurred. It should be made clear that CARE is in no way involved with conflicting parties or politics.
  • Civil-military relations play an important role in shaping humanitarian space. CARE should operate according to a ‘coordination with, not coordination of’ approach (for more information, refer to Chapter 39 Civil-military relations).
  • Humanitarian space cannot be taken for granted and often needs to be negotiated or secured through high-level advocacy. Country Offices should ensure that appropriate expertise and capacity (at senior levels) is allocated to negotiation, government liaison and advocacy in cases where humanitarian space is an issue (see also section 6 Other resources, and Chapter 28 Advocacy).