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First-ever World Humanitarian Summit must usher in new era of global solidarity – UN chief


First-ever World Humanitarian Summit must usher in new era of global solidarity – UN chief

First-ever World Humanitarian Summit must usher in new era of global solidarity – UN chief
Photo credit: UNICEF

Briefing Member States on 4 April 2016 on preparations for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Heads of State and Government to come to the event and deliver a strong message that “we will not accept the erosion of humanity which we see in the world today.”

“We must not fail the people who need us, when they need us most,” said the UN chief, drawing particular attention to the leader’s segment and the roundtables, that will take place during the 23-24 May summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

“First, the best way to achieve bold, courageous change is to make sure that leaders are there to deliver it,” Mr. Ban said, noting that the leaders’ segment will be an opportunity to discuss the five core responsibilities of his Agenda for Humanity.

The five core aims are: political leadership to prevent and end conflict; uphold the norms that safeguard humanity; leave no one behind; change people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need; and invest in humanity.

“History will judge us by how we use this moment,” Mr. Ban said, urging States to come to Istanbul at the highest level and to show leadership on the great challenges of the 21st century.

“We must not let down the many millions of men, women and children in dire need,” he added.

Mr. Ban said that seven roundtable sessions will be held over the two days to provide a space for leaders from Member States, civil society and the private sector to focus on a number of challenges crucial to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other shared goals.

The themes of the roundtables are: Preventing and Ending Conflict; Upholding the Norms that Safeguard Humanity; Leaving No-one Behind; Natural Disasters and Climate Change; From Delivering Aid to Ending Need; Gender Equality; and Investing in Humanity.

He said that proposed core commitments that reflect some of the changes necessary to turn the Agenda for Humanity into action were circulated last week for consideration and should be finalized by 18 April.

These are voluntary and non-binding, and can be individual or joint commitments. The Summit is not an end point, but the beginning of a new era of international solidarity to halt the terrible suffering of people affected by conflicts and disasters. The Summit’s success would make an enormous qualitative difference in advancing action on so many other fronts – not least the 2030 Agenda.

The summit outcomes will include a Chair’s summary that will be issued in Istanbul, and a “Commitments to Action” document that will follow some time later. Along with the Agenda for Humanity, these all constitute important elements to the framework for action and follow-up, he said.

Post-Summit follow-up

The follow-up will begin with the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council in June. In September, Mr. Ban will submit his report to the General Assembly, presenting the outcomes of the Summit and further possible steps ahead, he said.

At that point, Member States can decide to take forward some or all of the report's recommendations through intergovernmental discussions and negotiations, he said. The annual General Assembly humanitarian resolutions in the autumn will likely be vehicles for many of these important discussions.

“Last year we achieved major victories for global solidarity,” he said, referring to Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk ReductionAddis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Let us make the World Humanitarian Summit a historic step forward for our common humanity,” he said.

The briefing was organized by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Agenda for Humanity: five key actions the world needs

Humanitarian crisis UN

Not since the Second World War have global humanitarian needs been so high. From the crisis in Syria and the drought in Ethiopia, to the conflict in Sudan and the violence in the Lake Chad Basin, more than 125 million people around the world whose lives have been devastated by conflict and disaster desperately need humanitarian aid and protection.

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit on 23 and 24 May 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey – a culmination of three years of consultations with more than 23,000 people in 150 countries – will be an opportunity for leaders from governments, aid organizations, crisis-affected communities, the private sector and academia to come together and commit to take action to prevent and end suffering, reduce the impact of future crises and transform financing to save lives.

Ahead of the Summit, the Secretary-General presented the Agenda for Humanity, which outlines five different areas requiring collective action that, taken as a whole, provides the key actions and strategic shifts the world needs.

Core Responsibility 1: Prevent and end conflict

Unless political leaders show the will to prevent and end crises, little will change for the millions of children, women and men who are caught up in these crises. Leaders – including UN Security Council members – must put compassion and courage at the heart of their collective decision-making. They must analyse the risk of conflict and act early to nip conflicts in the bud. They must use all the leverage they have – political, economic and otherwise – to prevent conflicts and find solutions. And they need to put aside divisions to invest in peaceful and inclusive societies.

Core Responsibility 2: Respect rules of war

Unless international humanitarian and human rights laws are respected and monitored, and unless violators are held to account each time they break them, civilians will continue to make up the vast majority of people killed in conflict and their hospitals, schools and homes will continue to be obliterated. In addition, civilians will continue to be trapped by fighting parties and aid workers will continue to be barred from accessing them and will be putting themselves in danger when they try to do so.

Core Responsibility 3: Leave no one behind

Imagine being one of the most vulnerable people in the world. You’ve been forcibly displaced, or drought has killed your harvest for a fifth year running. You are stateless, or you are being targeted because of your race, religion or nationality. Now imagine the world says that none of these people will be left behind – that the world’s poorest will be targeted in development programmes, that world leaders will work to halve displacement, that women and girls will be empowered and protected, and that all children – whether in conflict zones or displaced – will be able to attend school. All of this could be a reality if leaders abide by these commitments.

Core Responsibility 4: Working differently to end need

Sudden natural disasters will take us by surprise, but many of the crises we respond to are predictable. Imagine working with at-risk communities and partners to help them prepare for crises so they are less vulnerable when crises strike. Imagine if we not only collected better data on crisis risk, but also acted on it early. By doing this, we could reduce risk and vulnerability at a global scale.

Core Responsibility 5: Invest in Humanity

If we really want to act on our responsibility to vulnerable people, we need to invest in them politically and financially. This means increasing funding not only to response, but also to risk and preparedness, to protracted conflicts and to peacebuilding. It means boosting local response through more funding to national NGOs and to pooled funds. It means stopping blocks to crucial investments, such as remittances flows. And it means being more creative with funding, using loans, grants, bonds and insurance mechanisms; by working with investment banks, credit card companies and Islamic social finance mechanisms, as well as with donors. It requires donors to be more flexible in the way they finance crises, and aid agencies to be as efficient as possible and transparent about how they are spending their money.


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