Who we are

The Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA) is a Berlin-based think tank founded in 2018, which engages in independent analysis, initiates debates and spreads the word about humanitarian action and principles amongst the general public. The CHA is an initiative of humanitarian non-governmental organisations to strengthen German and international humanitarian action.

Why do we need a CHA?

Humanitarian action has rarely been more essential than today: The number of people in need worldwide is rising year by year. Never have more people been on the run. Effective humanitarian assistance can mean the difference between life and death for millions of men, women and children. At the same time humanitarian action, actors, and the humanitarian principles are under attack and at risk of being undermined or underfunded.

Germany’s humanitarian engagement has multiplied in past years and it is today the world’s second largest donor country. The role of German humanitarian organisations is also internationally growing and the impact of German humanitarian action is substantial. At the same time German actors’ analysis and reflection capacities have not been growing on the same pace as financial expansion. For this reason an independent institution is needed, which engages in this ever more important field, as do similar think tanks in other countries.

Others about CHA

Germany is becoming a really important actor in humanitarian action worldwide. And CHA´s role is really important […], because we need good German thinking on humanitarian policy.

Hugo Slim, book author and thinker

Better and faster humanitarian aid saves lives! That is why we must think of humanitarian aid in the same innovative and unconventional way as of any other policy area. For this purpose CHA is a valued partner and source of inspiration for us in the Bundestag.

Gyde Jensen MdB, FDP, former Chairwoman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid 

We need a CHA because we need to put the debate on humanitarian assistance at the centre of the capital.

Niels Annen, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, former Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office

CHA fills a gap in the debate on humanitarian assistance.

Margarete Bause, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, former Member of the Bundestag Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid

CHA is important because it needs politically independent and neutral actors who can conduct research on implementation problems of humanitarian action.

Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, former President Brot für die Welt and Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe

We need a CHA because the ambitions of humanitarian assistance in Germany must now be put to the hard test of reality.

Florian Westphal, Chairman of the Board of Save the Children Germany

CHA’s three core areas

Analysis and reflection

CHA engages in self-critical reflection of humanitarian action by the German government, the parliament, NGOs and other civil society, academic and political actors in Germany and German speaking Europe. Analyses and studies build on international research, inspire German debates by the latter, and feed German perspectives into the international arena. 

Debate and policy engagement

CHA serves as a forum for controversial and open discussion with national and international humanitarian actors and with academic networks. Based on its independence it raises sensitive issues and challenges for humanitarian principles in action. Initiated debates also serve as policy and practical advice for humanitarian actors.

Imparting knowledge and know-how

CHA promotes communication and education on humanitarian action, its challenges and principles in public and in political discourse and it builds partnerships in this arena. The imparting of knowledge and know-how, for instance in civic education, comprises the necessity and dilemmas of humanitarian action.

CHA’s core projects

In close coordination with its partner organisations, the CHA adopted its second working programme at the end of 2021.
According to this programme, the four core areas of work until the end of 2024 are:

An overview of all topics can be found here.

Building bridges

The CHA is not meant to be a purely academic institution, nor to represent humanitarian organisations vis-à-vis the German Federal Government. The Centre rather builds a bridge between academic analysis of humanitarian action and projects and programmes in the field. It also bridges and connects international discussions and the debate in Germany. The results of this work and the related recommendations are freely accessible to all actors.

How is CHA funded?

To ensure that CHA is independent, practice-oriented and anchored in civil society, substantial financial contributions are made by humanitarian organisations.

Institutional partners

The NGOs Doctors without Borders Germany, Caritas Germany, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe and since 2021 the German Red Cross (DRK) are the institutional partners of CHA and provide the basic funding.

Endorsing partners

In addition to its institutional partners, CHA is financially and non-materially supported by other organisations. These include Islamic Relief Deutschland e.V., Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V., Action against Hunger gGmbH, Oxfam Germany, Handicap international, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) since 2021, the Norwegian Rescue Comitee Germany since 2023, as well as Save the Childen Germany, the Johanniter International Assistance and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) since 2024.

Project funding

Another pillar of CHA funding is project grants. With its own funds as well as a grant from the German Federal Foreign Office, CHA was funding for example its SPREAD project on “Strengthening Program and Policy Relevant Capabilities of Humanitarian Actors in Germany” (see topics) from 2021-2023.

Due to its multiple funding sources CHA is independent of individual donors, and its content is not subject to their influence. CHA is open to additional institutional and endorsing partners from civil society organisations, scientific institutions and individuals. Please contact us for further details.

Since 2021, CHA is a registered non-profit association. Previously it was part of the German Maecenata Foundation, which also served as its legal body.

Director of the Board: Ralf Südhoff

Supervisory Board:

Lena Bledau
Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe

Lara Dovifat
Doctors without Borders Germany

Oliver Müller
Caritas Germany

Christof Johnen
German Red Cross

Philipp Paust
Co-opted member

Statutes of the Association

Content and statements on this website, in our publications or social media channels do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the founding or supporting organisations.