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Standards, Protocols and Controls

Each organisation will should establish controls , including disciplinary procedures, to manage any and react to misconduct. Applying the aforementioned standards and protocols in relevant ways and in specific operational contexts is an ongoing challenge for humanitarian organisations. The organisations, bound by these standards, have developed over the years a framework that enables their leaders and collaborators on the ground to act in accordance with these principles while applying tailored solutions and pragmatic approaches. These principles of action are usually understood as a guide, and may include the following:

  • Humanitarian responsibility . - "Do not harm" (prevention of negative impacts, we are guests, respect local cultures).
  • Protection of victims .Presence with the victims as protection.
  • Collaboration with stakeholders (local, international) : exchange - Exchange know-how, optimisation of resources, empowerment, sustainability.
  • Commitment to improve the education and training of our teams (national staff) and beneficiaries.
  • Prioritisation of the most vulnerable groups. Women, the elderly and children. 
  • Maximum beneficiary participation. Search for their autonomy, listening mechanisms. 
  • Respect for the environment .- Environmentally friendly technical solutions, research and development, impact analysis, community awareness.
  • Integrated approach to interventions/Coordination with other organisations.

To guide and enforce these principles, specific policies have been should be drafted, addressing each issue in depth, explaining the why and how, and establishing corrective measures. Among the most common internal policies are:

  • “Whistle-blower” Protection Policy: Protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct and for cooperating with duly authorized authorised audits and investigations.
  • Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority: ensuring that all its workplaces are free from abuse, offensive behaviorbehaviour, harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. Promoting This also includes promoting a work culture in which every employee understands, and is able to carry out, his/her personal responsibilities for maintaining the dignity of work colleagues.

It is not necessarily enough to ensure that those these principles are respected internally; they have to be enforced them in the relations relation with third parties. To facilitate this, it is common for contracts to include in the contracts or agreements specific policies making these third parties to be adhered to, by signing them. Example of those should adhere to. Examples of these policies are: 

  • Anti-Fraud and anti-corruption policy.
  • Prevention against child-laborlabour.
  • Prevention against modern slavery.
  • Waste management best practices.
  • AntiterrorismAnti-terrorism.

These policies are included, and feedback mechanisms may also be included or referenced as well, in the Terms and Conditions (TC) attach to any PO where should inform as well, about the feedback mechanism in place, allowing the suppliers to understand their obligations and inform agencies  about any potential misuse or deviation perceivedproblems. 

Conflicts of Interest

Conflict of Interest can be defined as any actual, perceived or potential incompatibility between an Organisation employee’s private interests and either his/her official duties or the interests of the organisation. It includesA conflict of interest may include, but it is not limited to, circumstances in which an organisation :

  • An employee, directly or indirectly,


  • appears to benefit improperly


  • from a procurement activity.
  • A third party


  • benefits improperly


  • from his/her association


  • with an employee.
  • Any person within an organisation holds a financial interest in an enterprise that engages in any business or transaction with the organisation.

Examples of Conflicts of Interest:


Ares of Best PracticeExample
Individual BehaviorBehaviour.
  • Respect organisation’s rules and regulations
  • Always bear organisation’s interest in mind
  • Apply principles of professionalism, efficiency and integrity
  • When managing a contract, balance the need to get the supplier’ trust with the one of keeping distances
  • Refrain from sharing confidential information
  • Act in the interest of the organisation but taking into account rules and procedures
  • Try to understand the “spirit of the law” and what the rationale behind the rules is
  • Be alert about potential “red flags”
  • Openly discuss whenever facing difficulties
  • Share procurement knowledge within your unit
  • Increase the awareness of ethical values in your unit
  • Ensure compliance with correct procurement procedures.
  • Increase your knowledge of procurement rules and procedures
  • Be aware that there are many documents that might help you to deal with “grey areas”
  • Be sure to document and file any deviation from the correct rules
  • Set a good example
  • If in doubt: ask!
Working Practices with Suppliers.
  • Business should be conducted during normal working hours
  • Meetings with suppliers should be with minimum two organisation staff members
  • Suppliers should not be invited to organisation staff offices but to the cafeteria or meeting room
  • Meetings should have an agenda and minutes
  • Ensure sufficient distance when working with suppliers, especially when the same one for many years
  • Make sure you are aware of relevant policies and how to apply organisation’s ethical principles in your work
Avoid excuses among team and employees. Ethics is about doing the "right thing" even beyond the workplace. It is important to be vigilant and not relax working behaviorbehaviour.
  • “I have to cut corners to meet my goal.”
  • “I lack the time/resources to do what is right.”
  • “My peers expect me to act this way.”
  • “My superiors want results.”
  • “I don’t think it is really wrong or illegal.”
  • “Others would think that it is a good choice.”
  • “No one will ever know the difference.”
  • “I am afraid to do what I know is right.”
  • “This is how it has always been done.”
  • “Let’s be practical.”
Watch for Red Flags. look for possible symptoms of unethical behavior behaviour and watch out for.
  • Deviations from correct procedures
  • Poor record keeping / Missing files
  • Excessive secrecy
  • Reluctance to delegate
  • Protective of certain suppliers
  • Resistance to audit
  • Unnecessary meetings with suppliers
  • Overcharging by the supplier


Procurement Planning

Market Categories

In the humanitarian sector is common to work with the The concept of market categories, to organize the set of rules that applies to the different procurements processes all along a project or intervention.  Basically, market categories are a convention that "market categories" allows a more structured way of compiling and combining purchases due to their nature and specificitiesspecifics, and to ensure that the procurement principles are followed while facilitating the procurement process by establishing standards and tools.  In addition, it is possible that the different market categories could have different thresholds. In general, there are four main categories or “markets” humanitarian organisations work with, however variations and additional categories can and do exist.


The goods or supplies category includes the purchase of tangible items and/or its their interrelated sets. In general, a market is considered as goods/supplies when there is a transfer of ownership of tangible products.

A product is defined by two elements:

  • Technical specification or detailed description (including images if necessary)
  • Purchase Unit (Kg, Lt, piece, etc)

The Total Cost of Ownership  - All the costs associated to production, preparation, installation, maintenance and disposal - related to the purchased products (total cost of ownership), can be considered as part of goods market if the additional services have been procured, delivered and invoiced together and as long as these costs remain lower compared to the total purchase cost.

The typical purchases in the goods market are include food, tools, construction materials, office supplies, equipment, etc.


Construction/maintenance is a market category that includes the design of the work and/or its execution in accordance with the previously specified requirements.

It usually implies Construction/maintenance procurement and monitoring procedures usually visiting the place where the works should be performed with potential contractors, allowing them to better understand what is needed and the requirements in order to make a more accurate offer. As the works usually takes some time to be finalizedfinalised, an execution timeline must to be included in the plans as well as moments where inspection visits have to be performed.

Common examples are; a building rehabilitation (in full or part), any kind of construction, road sections, etc.


Services is a The services market category that includes the intellectual and non-intellectual services that do not fit in goods and works markets definitions. Evaluations, technical assistance, or any other activity not implying involving the transfer of a tangible product are considered as a service.

Under this market its possible to hire the services of dispatchers, lawyers, consultants, translation services, transport, etc.


Property/Rental markets refer to the rental of real state, whether land or buildings, regardless of their purpose. This market possesses certain characteristics that makes the sourcing and selection process slightly different from the other markets.:

  • There are no suppliers or provider but landlords.
  • There is no transfer of ownership but right of use for a period of time.
  • There are specific laws applying to property
However, what really makes this market category different is the difficulty
  • .

The complexity of of the property market means it is difficult to measure two or more premises exactly by the same criteria. While there are some similar comparable , aspects such as the location, the structure, the internal distribution, security considerations, makes the selection process more complex. The logistician has to Logistics personnel associated with procurement must evaluate the local market (actively) and choose the more economical option that could fit fits the initial requisites as much initial requisites as possible.

Hybrid Markets

There are cases where a procurement implies a combination of two markets. In these cases, the market rules that applies are defined in base of the market with the highest cost.

For example, a procurement that implies goods (timber) and services (transport by land) will be defined as goods if the cost of timber is highest then the transport. However, If the transport cost exceeds the timber cost the rules that applies are the ones stated for the services market.

Procurement Strategy

It is fundamental to develop a strategy for the successful acquisition of everything needed to facilitate the organisation´s operations. This strategy must observe the core procurement principles and should be the result of the different procurement plans prepared for any action, program or project where the needs are identified.