This paper examines where the humanitarian community is now in terms of quality and accountability, how we got here, and what some of the challenges are for the future.
In humanitarian settings across the world today, children are likely to make up half or more of the population affected by conflicts or disasters. The many risks facing these girls and boys have a devastating impact on their well-being, physical security, and future. Some children are killed or injured. Others face separation from their families and caregivers or recruitment into armed forces or armed groups; and far too many suffer sexual violence or other forms of exploitation and abuse. The protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect is an urgent priority for all those working in humanitarian situations, including, of course, protection actors but also the broad range of sectoral specialists. Our efforts need to be quick, well planned and effective - and we need to be able to measure whether they are reaching children and properly protecting them. Furthermore, in our humanitarian action, we need to ensure that we strengthen systems that will protect children in the longer term, when the emergency response is over. These long-awaited inter-agency minimum standards for child protection have the potential to transform the quality and the rigour of our work to protect children, and they will hold us to account against our commitments as humanitarians.