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World Humanitarian Summit Commits to Shared Responsibility


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