For Help Contact:
CARE Australia Emergency Coordinator
Tel: +61 6279 0200

5. Protection

A protection approach is about seeking to assure the safety of civilians from acute harm. While certain humanitarian agencies (for example, ICRC, UNHCR) have a specific protection mandate, it is now recognised that in an emergency, where there are protection gaps, it is the responsibility of all humanitarian actors to protect the communities with whom they work. CARE understands ‘protection’ to mean:

1.1 Definition of protection

1.2 Key legal instruments

There a number of general and specific protection guides and checklists for assessment and analysis available. Below is a simple protection analysis checklist. Section 2.2 includes a more detailed field assessment checklist.

2.1 Simple protection analysis

2.2 General protection assessment checklist

2.2.1 General assessment checklist for protection

3.1 Key principles for a protection approach

3.2 Mainstreaming protection

3.2.1 Sample checklist: How to protect refugees during the asylum period

3.3 Human rights promotion

3.3.1 Types of human rights work

3.3.2 Witnessing and monitoring abuses

3.3.3 Advocacy

3.4 Case study: Different approaches for different contexts

  • Never put people at greater risk of harm. Protection and rights promotion can be highly sensitive, and can do more harm than good if inappropriately designed and managed. Protection approaches should always carefully consider the risks and ensure that any strategies implemented don’t put beneficiaries at greater risk of harm.
  • Don’t implement relief programmes without conducting a protection analysis. Poorly planned or implemented relief programmes can create protection risks and cause harm to beneficiaries, such as creating opportunities for aid to be used to abuse power.
  • If documenting rights abuses, ensure that documentation processes do not put people at risk by identifying individuals. In some cases, written documentation may not be possible and may increase risk to individuals, the community and CARE staff.

Don’t jeopardise CARE’s presence in a country with poorly targeted or implemented advocacy. In complex and politically sensitive operations, ensure that CARE’s advocacy strategy is appropriate to the context to help achieve advocacy objectives, and to enable CARE to continue to be present to implement important relief operations and to witness.

All emergency personnel should be trained to be able to analyse and plan for basic protection measures to be mainstreamed in all relief programmes. A protection expert should be requested in cases where specific and complex protection concerns arise as a result of the emergency situation, require a specific protection strategy or where the response will involve direct protection activities. While CARE does not have full-time deployable protection specialists on standby, emergency personnel with protection expertise can be requested through the CERT mechanism by contacting the CI Human Resources Coordinator.

For technical advice, a number of personnel in CARE Member emergency units and advocacy units can provide guidance on protection approaches. For information on mainstreaming protection in emergency programmes, contact the Emergency Coordinator at

CARE is committed to using a protection approach in an emergency context, which will ensure that our response actions improve people’s security and do not expose them to further risks. This can be seen in CARE’s vision and mission statements, programming framework, and policies such as those aimed at the prevention of sexual exploitation and child protection. A commitment to protection is also a key part of CARE’s engagement with sector standards promoted by ALNAP in Protection: An ALNAP guide for humanitarian agencies, Sphere, HAP and The good enough guide (Annex 31.13).

CARE is committed to a rights-based approach to humanitarian action, including:

  • Respect human rights by not violating human rights ourselves
  • Work towards the protection of people’s human rights
  • Promote greater awareness of rights and responsibilities
  • Help people fulfil their human rights, either directly or by facilitating the efforts of other actors.

CARE’s COs have a wide range of experiences in diverse contexts and in using different approaches to protection in emergencies. CARE is currently developing a strategy to consolidate this experience and to build greater capacity in protection with the development of a Humanitarian Protection Strategy. The strategy would bring together the different tools and approaches used by the organisation, and would deepen CARE’s understanding of humanitarian protection by identifying capacity gaps. The strategy will enable CARE staff to analyse situations on the ground, and to act in accordance with humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law, as well as CARE’s vision and mission statements.

CARE has invested significantly in systems and capacity to address the specific topic of prevention and response to sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information, see Prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse.

For CARE International’s Building Capacity in Humanitarian Protection – final report, refer to Annex 31.14

International Committee of the Red Cross

Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-The UN Refugee Agency