Spain's Humanitarian Action


The aim of humanitarian action is to protect and save lives, to prevent and alleviate human suffering, to meet people's basic, urgent needs, and to promote their rights, all with an approach that reduces vulnerability while strengthening capacities.

Through its Humanitarian Action Office, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) is responsible for coordinating and overseeing Spain's Humanitarian Action, both in areas affected by humanitarian crises and in international or regional humanitarian forums. It therefore promotes partnerships with key humanitarian partners, donors, specialized international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, think tanks and companies. It also fosters development of public humanitarian action policy with other State actors, the Autonomous Communities of Spain and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces.

Spain's humanitarian action is guided by the principles of international humanitarian law: independence, humanity, neutrality and impartiality. It is also governed by a number of different instruments, including: the four Geneva Conventions (1949) and their Additional Protocols I, II (1977) and III (2005), the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and its Protocol (1967), the Oslo Guidelines (1998), the Food Aid Convention (1999), the Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship (2003), the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid (2007), the Lisbon Treaty (2010), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030, and the commitments arising from the first World Humanitarian Summit, including its Agenda for Humanity (2016), as well as the humanitarian Grand Bargain.

Since the late eighties, Spain's humanitarian aid has been focused on responding to emergencies by rapidly and non-discriminatorily sending the necessary assistance materials (including food aid) to areas affected by crises arising from conflicts and particularly those caused by natural disasters. Spanish Cooperation's 2nd Master Plan for the 2005-2008 period marked the beginning of a transition to humanitarian action with a wider reach, including disaster risk reduction and readiness actions, early recovery and rehabilitation, assistance for forgotten crises, and coordination with other international actors. In this context, Spanish Cooperation's Humanitarian Action Strategy (2007) was established, along with the AECID Humanitarian Action Office. This, together with a gradual increase in the volume of funds assigned to Humanitarian Action—reaching 10% of total Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2011—has made Spain a key international donor.

Spanish Cooperation's 5th Master Plan, for the 2018-2021 period reflects the need to address a general paradigm shift resulting from the Agenda for Humanity agreed at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. In addition, ten years after Spanish Cooperation's first humanitarian strategy was drafted, fulfilment of its objectives has been assessed, as well as the effectiveness of its instruments, with a view to designing a new strategy that will be published in late 2018. Lastly, as part of the progressive increase in Spanish ODA, priority will be given to humanitarian aid and greater participation by decentralized official cooperation will be promoted. Spain's strategic approach to Humanitarian Action was very positively received in the most recent Development Assistance Committee Peer Review of Spain (2016), with praise for the efforts made by the Humanitarian Action Office to coordinate with international and national actors. In the review, Spain is encouraged to increase its budget for Humanitarian Action (4% of total ODA in 2015).