Cartoons and the Humanitarian Charter



Sphere CartoonsAny NGO that participates in humanitarian assistance should abide by the minimum standards outlined in The Sphere Project’s handbook. The Sphere Project sets standards relating to nutrition, shelter, and WASH needs during emergencies. They also outline a Humanitarian Charter, which states basic human rights that must be respected and legally met during emergency responses. They include: the right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance, and the right to protection and security. These standards aim “to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian actors to their constituents, donors and affected populations.”[1]

Cartoon illustrations are introduced to help communicate these minimum standards to both humanitarian workers and the general public.

The Sphere Project partnered with the Cartoon Movement, through support with the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH), to make this project possible. The Cartoon Movement is an “online community of international editorial cartoonists and fans of political satire.”[2] It’s community spans over 60 countries, and brings some of the top editorial cartoonists together online. CERAH, an academic organization in Geneva, offers various programs and workshops regarding humanitarian assistance. They have said they will use the cartoons in future lessons. The layout of the posters was designed by Fondation Foyer-Handicap, which is another organization based in Geneva.

Six different posters were produced, each featuring a different humanitarian-related message. The posters, which were designed with matching postcards, are currently available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.


International Standards

The six humanitarian standards that are outlined on the posters are:

  1. ‘Unintended Consequences’, illustrated by Emmanuel “Manu” Letouzé, a French cartoonist now based in Brooklyn
  1. ‘The Right to Dignity’, illustrated by Emmanuel “Manu” Letouzé
  1. ‘The Right to Humanitarian Assistance’, illustrated by Stephanie McMillian, an American cartoonist
  1. ‘Accountability’, illustrated by Saad Murtadha, an Iraqi engineer and freelance cartoonist
  1. ‘Protection from Violence’, illustrated by Enrico Bertuccioli, an Italian cartoonist
  1. ‘The Right to Protection and Security’, illustrated by Anne Derenne, a French cartoonist now based in Spain

The cartoons aim show these  values in a different light, allowing for broader understandings.

Images can also invoke different messages than words, so interpretations of the cartoons have the potential to differ from the interpretations of the text. Some people are  more likely to analyze an image than read a multi-page document, so the cartoons will help spread information about the Humanitarian Charter to a wider audience.

Children and adults with poor literacy skills will be able to look at the cartoons and understand them more easily than if they were to read the text which has, until now, been inaccessible to them.

The posters can be viewed online and downloaded. Full poster gallery can be viewed online here.

Only a limited quantity of physical copies were available. A Kickstarter campaign was created to help produce and distribute the physical copies.

Find more information here and here.








Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth is a writer currently based in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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