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 path 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

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

Niels Annen, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office

CHA fills a gap in the debate on humanitarian assistance.

Margarete Bause, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, 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, 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, Director Doctors without Borders 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. Analysis 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 three projects

Policy and Strategic Capacity of German Humanitarian Action

In recent years the humanitarian aid from Germany has multiplied. The Federal Government and German aid organizations are playing an increasingly important role in the international arena. At the same time, this raises high – and to date not completely fulfilled – expectations for German actors to continue the strategic development of its humanitarian aid as well as to effectively protect humanitarian principles internationally.

The project aims to examine the strategic and policy capacity of German humanitarian organisations from an international perspective and to develop recommendations for public and civil German humanitarian actors.

Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Practice

Since the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the Triple Nexus has had a high priority in the humanitarian reform debate. The declared goal of the Triple Nexus approach is to improve the linkages between humanitarian aid, development cooperation, and peace-building.

This project contributes to enriching the predominantly abstract Triple Nexus debate with concrete examples of local practices while looking at it from a humanitarian standpoint. The research results on the Peace Nexus will be made available in the form of country studies, a Nexus publication, and a CHA conference in the beginning of 2020. The project will be complemented by a Triple Nexus Evaluation for the German NGO Welthungerhilfe.

Shrinking Humanitarian Space in the Global South and in Europe

The internationally much-debated issue of shrinking humanitarian space is considered a fundamental challenge for humanitarian aid and its principles. So far, however, this debate is mainly concerned with the countries of the Global South.

The aim of this project is to examine the specific challenges and parallels of increasingly limited spaces for principled humanitarian action in the countries of the North and the South, with concrete practical examples. In the context of asylum and migration policies, including sea rescue, anti-terrorism legislation and localization, the topic will be examined and options for action will be discussed.

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.

“In particular German humanitarian action is today more important than ever.

We want to strengthen and further improve it.”



Ralf Südhoff has started in his role as Founding Director of the CHA in January 2019. Together with his team, he is establishing the Centre, its staff and its facilities in Berlin. Find out more about the CHA-Team here.

How is CHA funded?

As it is crucial that the CHA can work independently with a strong civil society basis, key funding comes from three humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs): Doctors without Borders Germany, Caritas Germany and the Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development. Next to the three cooperation partners, the CHA is open to endorsing members (to date: Islamic Relief Germany). Further partnerships with academic institutions, think tanks and individuals are envisaged.

What is the legal status of CHA?

The CHA is part of German Maecenata Foundation, which also serves as its legal body. Maecenata Foundation and the three NGOs Doctors without Borders Germany, Caritas Germany and Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development each delegate a member to the CHA Advisory Board.

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.