The conceptual foundation of the HRI is the 23 Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) developed in 2003 by the world’s main donor governments and adopted by the members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD/DAC) in 2005.
The HRI is not an index on the volume or quantity of funding provided by Western governments for humanitarian assistance. It looks beyond funding to assess critical issues around the quality and effectiveness of aid in five key areas, or pillars of donor government practice:
- Pillar 1: Are donor responses based on needs of the affected populations and not subordinated to political, strategic or other interests?
- Pillar 2: Do donors support strengthening local capacity, prevention of future crises and long‐term recovery?
- Pillar 3: Do donor policies and practices effectively support the work of humanitarian organisations?
- Pillar 4: Do donors respect and promote international humanitarian law (IHL), and actively promote humanitarian access to enable protection of civilians affected by crises?
- Pillar 5: Do donors contribute to accountability and learning in humanitarian action?
Donors are given scores for each of the indicators in the five pillars of good practice of the HRI. The resulting scores ordered into a ranking that gives a composite picture of how well individual donors compare to other donors. The overall ranking shows that there is still great room for improvement in the way all donor governments apply Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles in their policies and practices.
Additionally, donors are classified into one of three groups based on their similarities with other donors, which is an innovation to the 2010 Index.
Denmark, Ireland and New Zealand lead the donor ranking of the HRI 2010- followed by Norway, Sweden and the European Union. These donors do well in keeping their aid separate from political, military and security objectives (see graph)