Protection in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC)

This page serves as a platform to bring together guidance and examples for integrating protection in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) processes and tools beyond the Protection Sector/cluster chapter. It complements the core 2022/23 HPC package guidance. It will be updated regularly to incorporate field experience and protection and HPC-related developments. 

Why it matters

The protection of affected people – including women, girls, boys and men – should be at the front and centre of humanitarian decision-making, preparedness and response. This has been reflected in the IASC Protection Policy (2016), which emphasises a humanitarian system-wide responsibility to prioritise protection and contribute to collective protection outcomes. It underlines the need to implement this commitment across the HPC, including in assessments, planning, programming, implementation and monitoring.

Placing protection at the centre of strategic planning and working towards more inter-sectoral assessment, analysis and approaches to reduce protection risks affected populations face is crucial recognizing that most complex protection problems cannot be solved by one actor or the Protection Sector alone. Practically, it can contribute to:

  • more robust analysis, including of power structures, context, legal and policy frameworks, underlying root causes of violations and abuses;
  • more holistic, nuanced understanding of the risks affected people face and capacities they can bring to bear to reduce risk themselves;
  • enhanced understanding of State and non-State actors, including their motivations, roles and responsibilities in relation to violations or abuses;
  • better understanding of our own role, responsibilities and what we are trying to achieve;
  • broadening the basis for engagement with human rights, development and peace operations actors to ensure complementarity in analysing and addressing complex protection issues.

What is required

As per the 2022/2023 HPC guidance and templates, the HNO is required to reflect the centrality of protection. It must provide a clear and comprehensive protection analysis. Specifically, it should address the following areas:

  1. Identify main protection risks and vulnerabilities
  2. Explain where the threat is coming from, including who is causing the risks and what other drivers account for the violations and abuses people are experiencing
  3. Outline who is vulnerable to each specific risk; avoid generalizations (i.e., all women and children are vulnerable)
  4. Explain how and why they are vulnerable to this risk
  5. Identify existing coping mechanisms and capacities of affected people to manage risks and/or impact of violations and abuses; as well as commitment and capacity of duty bearers and other stakeholders (including various sectors and disciplines within and outside the humanitarian community) to address risks identified

The HRP should address protection concerns. Specifically, it should cover the following areas 

  1. Analysis of general protection concerns
  2. Articulation of specific, high-priority protection concerns that require a whole of system response
  3. For 2-3 prioritized protection concerns, strategic and/or specific objectives and related activities that contribute to enhance protection outcomes for affected people. These should be informed by the protection analysis and complementing any HCT Protection Strategies or equivalent frameworks as relevant
  4. Outline how ‘do no harm’ principles are incorporated throughout the response

Keep in mind

  • A response or activity is considered to have a protection outcome when the risk to affected persons is reduced. The reduction of risks occurs when threats and vulnerability are minimized and, at the same time, the capacity of affected persons is enhanced. Protection outcomes are the result of changes in behaviour, attitudes, policies, knowledge and practices on the part of relevant stakeholders. (IASC Protection Policy, 2016)
  • Protection risks” refer to people’s exposure to all forms of violence (e.g. killings, beatings, torture, rape, etc.) coercion (e.g. forced population movements, child recruitment in armed groups, trafficking, forced or early marriage, etc.) and deliberate deprivation (e.g. destruction of property, denial of services, restrictions of freedom of movement, etc.)  (InterAction, Results-Based Protection Paper, 2020)
  • The Protection Risk Equation, illustrated below by InterAction, provides a structured way to understand and design approaches to reduce risk:

Helpful resources

Practical examples

Protection outcome-oriented approaches

  • Qualitative GBV data collection in Syria that unpacks risks rather than just speaking to prevalence has been used to inform the HNO and HRP since 2016. The approach uses contextualized tools and indicators to strengthen understanding of emerging GBV risks and trends.  It has been captured in a guide for other clusters/sectors to better understand the risks of GBV that need to be mitigated throughout their response.
  • Examples of approaches that promote protection outcomes collected by InterAction

Do no Harm/Safe programming/protection mainstreaming

Protection analysis

  • Systematic use and leveraging of human rights analysis and information as part of overall protection analysis, oPt 2022 HNO and HRP
  • Examples of Protection Analysis Updates for AfghanistanColombiaIturi Province (DRC) and oPt
  • Use of the inter-cluster group to facilitate joint and inter-sectoral analysis and approaches to address protection risks

Integrating human rights within the HRP

  • The Syria Human Rights Reference Group, established in 2015 in Gazientep, Turkey has brought together a broader group of human rights and humanitarian actors, which has fostered more comprehensive analysis  to inform the Syria cross border response
  • Integration of human rights international standards and analysis in humanitarian programming is supported by a Human Rights Advisor in Syria
  • Examples of promoting human rights within HRP strategic objectivesBurkina Faso HRP 2021 and sector-level objectives, DRC HRP 2021
  • Monitoring, documentation and advocacy of violations of IHRL and IHL are key actions with indicators in oPt’s 2022 HRP