The world’s first-ever World Humanitarian Summit took place May 23–24, 2016 in Istanbul. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the summit in 2012 after recognizing the need to reaffirm global responsibility of our shared humanity.

Since the original announcement, the need for the summit has become increasingly urgent. 125 million people around the world are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, according to Ban Ki-moon’s report for the World Humanitarian Summit last year.

The World Humanitarian Summit included over 9,000 people–a mix of world leaders, non-governmental organizations, people affected by crises and partners in the private sector and civil society.

Packed with roundtable discussions and events, the aim of The World Humanitarian Summit is to change the way the world responds to global issues by committing to a unified goal to end suffering.

The Agenda for Humanity outlines the five core responsibilities that the summit centered on:

  1. “Global leadership to prevent and end conflict.” The first core responsibility proposes responding quickly to crises and investing in risk analysis, political unity, and peace building to prevent conflicts from occurring. Manmade conflict accounts for 80 percent of humanitarian aid that is sent, according to the WHS Executive Summary Report. Investing in conflict prevention would save billions of dollars and lives.
  2. “Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity.” The second core responsibility addresses the need to recommit to rules of war and speak out against violations. When bombs or explosives are used in populated areas, 90 percent of people that are killed or injured are civilians, according to the WHS Executive Summary Report. This responsibility presents the launch of a global campaign to stop violations of the human rights law while investing in ways to increase adherence and accountability.
  3. “Leave no one behind.” The third core responsibility is dedicated to reaching everyone affected by crises, risk and vulnerability. According to the WHS Report, 60 million people are forcibly displaced, and there is a severe lack of funding in humanitarian aid. This responsibility commits to empowering marginalized groups, addressing displacement and supporting migrants.
  4. “Changing people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need.” The fourth core responsibility is centered on shifting the priority from delivering aid to ending the need for aid. Reinforcing the idea that support should be drawn from within, this commitment advises employing local solutions and empowering local systems that already work instead of replacing them with international aid.
  5. “Invest in humanity.” The fifth core responsibility commits to political, institutional and financial investments in stability and local systems. It proposes to decrease the funding gap and improve the efficiency of aid. The World Humanitarian Summit comes at a critical time in history – a time when the U.N. estimates that the number of people displaced has not been as high since World War II.

In his WHS Report, Ki-Moon deliberately references The Declaration of St. James’s Palace in London in 1941, the first act toward the formation of the United Nations. At St. James’s Palace in London, governments came together to pledge a unified commitment to work toward peace. Ban acknowledges that 75 years later, it is time to renew that commitment to humanity.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, called for this year’s first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. He scheduled the summit for May 23-24 as a response to levels of humanitarian crisis around the world.

The goal of the World Humanitarian Summit is to bring together world leaders and the international community in order to address the issues facing those in crisis. The United Nations listed such problems as lack of food, shelter and medical care. Furthermore, violent conditions and lack of care for pregnant women and young children threaten families in crisis regions.

Also on the agenda is the issue of education. The WHS will see the launch of a new platform designed to provide funding for education specifically in crisis situations. This program, titled Education Cannot Wait, is the first of its kind.

After recognizing that education is a basic human right and that war and other humanitarian crises disrupt children’s education, ECW developed a multi-pronged strategy. This strategy includes calling on the international community to accept more financial responsibility. Additionally, the community should take part in the planning and execution of strategies to improve access to education in crisis areas. It also holds the other nations and people involved accountable for their actions.

Financial pledges are certainly of primary importance. According to A World at School, less than two percent of humanitarian funding has gone to education each year since 2010. Consequently, this lack of funds results in the deprivation of schooling for tens of millions of children in crisis situations.

The website details the “Breakthrough Fund” component of ECW, with key points including the necessity for multi-year financial commitments. These commitments adequately meet the needs of funding education for those in crisis without taking funding from other humanitarian projects.

UNICEF will take charge of the Breakthrough Fund for its first year. Afterward, the Breakthrough Fund will transition to a more permanent administrative host. The fund will attempt to raise $3.85 billion USD by year five of the project.

The WHS website reports that the World Humanitarian Summit held a roundtable discussion of Education Cannot Wait at a Special Session. It was open to the media and webcast live.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: UN Multimedia

Humanitarian Aid

In March 2016, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced proposals for improving the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. These suggestions will be brought forth at the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016 in Istanbul. Proposals to be discussed include ending refugee limbo, increasing refugee access to education, and localizing disaster response.

According to IRIN, the U.N. has worked in consultation with over 20,000 people for improvements in crisis response. The summit will cover the trends and findings pertaining to the utilization of humanitarian aid more efficiently through future crises that arose from this work.

With the influx of refugees to Europe at its highest since WWII, improving the assistance system will be a top priority at the WHS. Concerning the refugee crisis, the summit hopes to merge ideas on how to address the problem more equitably for all states. For instance, the Secretary General recommends that more countries share the financial and hosting responsibilities.

Other ideas that the summit will deliberate upon include providing sustainable livelihoods for refugees in their host countries. This involves providing more immediate access to education rather than refugees remaining in a period of limbo. Another innovative idea to be discussed is a “global finance package,” which would deliver increased funds to hosting countries.

Ban Ki-Moon will also advocate for Security Council members to abstain from vetoing resolutions potentially aiding and preventing crises and atrocities, states IRIN.

In order to successfully provide aid, Ban Ki-Moon says that following international law is an essential factor. Too often hospitals and schools are bombed and destroyed, further disabling quick and effective humanitarian aid provisions. The summit will debate how to competently ensure that international law is respected by all states.

The conference’s discourse on improving humanitarian assistance will also mention the need to localize financing and to empower local organizations.

One round table at the summit will be called “Catalysing Action To Achieve Gender Equality,” covering issues pertaining to gender equality in the face of crises. Myriad women’s needs are left behind in displacement settings. This roundtable will discuss solutions to women’s inclusion in decision-making during crises.

The program’s website states, “The summit is an opportunity to confront these global challenges head-on and generate greater global leadership and political will to end conflict, alleviate suffering, and reduce risk.”

Mayra Vega

Photo: Flickr