About ICVA

Who We Are

Our role

ICVA is a platform for increased collaboration and coordination between NGOs and other humanitarian actors, which is crucial to improving the lives of communities affected by humanitarian crises.

Our vision

The vision of ICVA is a world in which crises-affected populations are effectively protected, assisted, and enabled to rebuild their lives and livelihoods with dignity.

Our mission

ICVA is a global network of non-governmental organisations whose mission is to make humanitarian action more principled and effective by working collectively and independently to influence policy and practice.



Established in 1962 by a small coalition of refugee and migration focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), ICVA has grown into a diverse network of NGOs operating at global, regional, national and local levels. ICVA advocates for principled humanitarian action, enhanced recognition by governments and international organisations of the vital role of NGOs, and high quality partnerships among humanitarian stakeholders.  ICVA promotes a rights- and needs-based approach.  ICVA maintains its historical focus on forced displacement while at the same time addressing fundamental and emerging elements of concern to NGOs related to all crisis-affected populations.


The Current Humanitarian Landscape

The current humanitarian landscape reflects positive changes: substantial local and national capacity for preparedness and response, more diverse sources of funding, broader use of technology, growing demands to find solutions to protracted displacement, and increased recognition of the importance of national actors, flexible funding, accountability to crisis-affected populations and respectful partnerships.

However, humanitarian action also faces formidable challenges: the largest number of people forcibly displaced and seeking protection from violence since World War II; disregard of obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law; needs outstripping resources; a lack of platforms for the great complexity of actors to exchange on different approaches to humanitarian action; and a growing risk aversion and burdensome requirements hindering NGO action. 

Going forward there will be new demands for increasing synergies among a range of actors with questions about ownership and shared values.  The multilateral system will remain, but with decreasing scope and influence unless it is more inclusive. NGOs will be judged on their relevance, quality and speed compared to other actors, and financing will continue to be a dominate issue in humanitarian action.


ICVA’s Added Value

All these changes and challenges require responses that not only adapt to growing complexity, but also embrace it.  In this regard, the ICVA network’s diversity is one of its notable strengths: NGOs large and small, secular and faith-based, local and international joined through a common commitment to principled humanitarian action. ICVA’s successes rely on this diversity.

Another of ICVA’s strengths is its presence: over 100 operational members active in over 160 countries, with hundreds of partners. ICVA also leverages its Geneva-based Secretariat’s proximity to key humanitarian organizations and its regional hubs’ proximity to members and stakeholders close to country operations. The hubs link operational realities to global policy centres and bring the Secretariat capacity closer to ICVA members. The hubs create opportunities for regional consultation and collective action on issues of common interest. They also support the sharing of best practice across regions; and result in more effective advocacy for greater inclusion of national NGO voices and leadership in humanitarian practice and policy.

Finally, ICVA maintains its position in amplifying the NGO voice in various humanitarian fora.  In particular, it serves as a liaison between UNHCR and the broader NGO community.  It also participates in various entities of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).