“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery"

Acceptance Approach

We aim to use the Acceptance approach to support Humanitarians in the field, although we accept that the current threat environment also requires aspects of the Deterrence and Protection approaches. 

On the ground

We feel that is imperative to spend plenty of time in the locations where humanitarian staff operate, in order to gain a firm understanding of the specific threats experienced by staff and the risks which they are exposed to. 

Staff Contribution

We think it is important that staff contribute to the preparation and amendment of procedures. Documents should be written in a way which always has the safety of all staff at the forefront; with consideration of budget constraints and the context of the areas in which staff are operating. 

National and International staff are often exposed to similar risks; however there are also certain specific considerations to be made in regard to each group, and these should continue to be taken into account when preparing documents.


We use a participatory approach to our risk assessments processes. Ensuring that we involve program and support staff at every level.

The Acceptance Approach to Humanitarian Security management 

What is acceptance?

An acceptance approach attempts to reduce or remove threats by increasing the acceptance of an organisations staff and programs. Organisations establish and develop acceptance by building relationships with local communities, and other actors in the humanitarian space.

Acceptance is one of three approaches to Humanitarian security management as well as Protection and Deterrence.

  • Protection seeks to but a barrier to protect from the threat
  • Deterrence is the intention to deter the threat with a counter threat

"we should have BIG Acceptance, REASONABLE protection, and MINIMAL NECESSARY intimidation with arms"

Mikolaj Radllicki, CCM-Italia

Obtaining consent and building acceptance is a fundamental part of humanitarian principles. Acceptance is for the majority the most desirable means to ensure safe programming for organisations.

Often organisations have policies and procedures, which are based in the acceptance approach, although practical steps to test and build acceptance in the field have room for improvement.

Key components of an active acceptance approach are outreach, investment of time, communication and adherence to the organisations mandate, objectives and programmes.

Those that agencies must build acceptance with, is anyone who influences whether or not an agency can program securely in their area of operations.

Acceptance needs to be gained from all relevant parties including those that may distrust the agency, feel threatened or harbour active hostility.

Key Components of an active acceptance approach
  • Establishing and maintaining relationships with principle actors
  • Gaining acceptance from the wider community
  • Networking or negotiating with armed actors
  • Clear and consistent communications
  • Formal agreements
  • Networking and socialising
  • Negotiating and making public statements
Humanitarian Principles

  • Humanity
  • Neutrality
  • Impartiality
  • Independence

Humanitarian Principles are the key concepts of Humanitarian Assistance. 

It is absolutely essential that all Humanitarian actors strictly follow these concepts. This enables Humanitarians to deliver the best support and assistance to beneficiaries, and also helps to keep them safe.

You can read about them here.

Organisations Code of Conduct 

International NGO’s usually have a code of conduct. 

It is not enforceable for local partners but it is advised that staff follow the guidance.

It is recommended that all organizations write and implement their own code of conduct.


The Saving Lives Together Initiative

SLT is the concept that all humanitarian organisations including the United Nations can and will share information and cooperate on security matters.

You can read about the SLT here


The NGO Safety Triangle Overview

The NGO Safety Triangle defines the concept that there are three ways of providing security for staff operating in the field.

Deterrence is the concept that there will be a response to threatening us
For example: Military facilities, polices forces, Mafia type gangs.

Protection is the attempt to create a barrier of defence against threat

For example: United Nations, fences, barriers, armoured vehicles, body armour


Acceptance is the idea that we are accepted and welcomed by the community, and therefore they will support us in staying safe.

For example: Humanitarian Organisations. Local people themselves.

You can read about the NGO Safety Triangle here


The Acceptance Toolkit 

The acceptance Toolkit is an initiative and concept developed in order to test an organizations level of acceptance in the community where they work, and to take measured steps to improve it.

Gendered Approach to Aid Agency Security Management

All Acceptance-International team members are advocates of a gendered approach to security management and therefore always consider the specific risks applicable to each gender apply appropriate, non discriminatory, program enabling mitigation strategies at all levels.

Gender and Aid Agency Security Management

This document outlines the idea that there are threats which women are exposed to, those which men are exposed to which are different, and then there is the threats which both genders are exposed to.

It doesn’t advocate for separate security management strategies, but rather just an awareness of this idea when applying risk management policy.

You can download and read it here


Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief

Most International Humanitarian Organisations including Acceptance-International are signatories of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief.

This document outlines the key concepts for Humanitarian Activity.

You can download and read it here

In addition to our work implementing programs, Acceptance International also endeavors to support NGOs with Safety and Security matters in particular OCHA's 'Stay and Deliver' concept. 

In particular support with implementing the following initiatives in the field.

  1. Maintaining Effective Presence though Risk Management
  2. Alternatives to Bunkerisation
  3. Duty of Care and Responsible Partnership
  4. Secure Access requires sustained Humanitarian Dialogue
  5. Humanitarian Principles Matter

Our teams are available to support NGO's with various elements of Safety and Security support (Training, Services and Support, budgeting for Security Management and procurement of equipment) 

We understand that NGOs often have existing Safety and Security systems in place,  however we would like to take the opportunity to offer our support to your staff and programs in the field.