World Humanitarian Summit Launches Commitments to Take Action
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During the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), approximatively 1,500 commitments were made, including on education, the inclusion of persons with disabilities, global preparedness, preventing conflicts, delivering crisis responses and building resilience.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who initiated the Summit, said he will report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Summit's achievements in September 2016, and will propose ways to take commitments forward.

He announced that an annual update will review progress in implementing the Summit's commitments.

whs24 May 2016: During the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), approximatively 1,500 commitments were made, including on education, the inclusion of persons with disabilities, global preparedness, preventing conflicts, delivering crisis responses and building resilience. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who initiated the Summit, said he will report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Summit’s achievements in September 2016, and will propose ways to take the commitments forward. He announced that an annual update will review progress in implementing the Summit’s commitments.

The WHS, which convened on 23-24 May 2016, in Istanbul, Turkey, was managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and gathered 9,000 participants from 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government, hundreds of private sector representatives, and thousands of people from civil society and NGOs.

In preparation for the Summit, Ban released a report titled, ‘One Humanity: Shared Responsibility,’ which inluded an ‘Agenda for Humanity’ setting out five core responsibilities: political leadership to prevent and end conflict; upholding the norms that safeguard humanity; leaving no one behind; changing people’s lives: from delivering aid to ending need; and investing in humanity. During the Summit, officials were invited to make commitments and announce actions in support of these core responsibilities.

Opening the WHS, Ban said he had proposed the Summit four years ago because of rising humanitarian needs and declining political will. He remarked that the urgency has only grown, with a record number of 130 million of people needing aid to survive. Ban later expressed disappointment that some world leaders did not participate, especially those from the G7 countries, except Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. He said divisions between the members of the UN Security Council have prevented progress on humanitarian affairs in recent years, and appealed to permanent members to “take important steps at the highest level.”

Mogens Lykketoft, UNGA President, stressed the need to: end root conflicts; ensure adherence to international humanitarian law and accountability for violations; make the humanitarian system more locally oriented; and protect the displaced. He also stressed the need to secure predictable resources for the humanitarian system, in the amount of US$15 billion, which is equivalent to “one cent out of every 50 dollars of today’s global economy.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, reported that his country carries out aid and development projects in more than 140 countries around the world, and hosts more than three million refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Among the initiatives and commitments announced at the Summit, the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) jointly outlined contributions they can make to address forcibly displaced peoples’ vulnerabilities, as well as the needs of host communities, including: joint country-level engagements; innovative financing mechanisms to strengthen MDBs collective engagement; and data and evidence.

A joint statement from European Commission officials Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, notes that the EU is committed to “strong progress” on each of the five core areas of the ‘Agenda for Humanity,’ and has made commitments in its programmes, policies and funds.

Ban launched the Commitment to Action on ‘Transcending humanitarian-development divides: Changing People’s Lives: From Delivering Aid to Ending Need,’ along with the heads of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO), OCHA, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with the endorsement of the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). By this commitment, the organizations will work together to meet needs, reduce vulnerabilities and better manage crisis risks, including through: pooled and combined data, analysis and information; better coordinated planning and programming processes; effective leadership for collective outcomes; and financing modalities to support collective outcomes.

The Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum – which represents 43 high-risk developing nations – launched a global partnership for preparedness (GPP) to strengthen preparedness capacities for disasters in countries and communities. Other collaborators in the partnership include FAO, OCHA, UNDP, WFP and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). The partnership is expected to become operational later in 2016.

UNDP and Switzerland signed a US$13.9 million agreement to strengthen their partnership to prevent conflict, address systemic fragility and deliver effective crisis response. Switzerland’s contribution will support UNDP’s work on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels), by strengthening countries’ national capacities for conflict prevention, promoting good governance, access to justice, and respect for human rights. It will also contribute to the deployment of peace and development advisors in over 40 countries.

UNICEF announced the launch of the fund ‘Education Cannot Wait’ to better coordinate support for and drive investment in education for children and youth affected by humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises. The fund aims to reach more than 13.6 million children and youth living in crisis situations, and has a funding target of US$3.85 billion over five years. It aligns with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) work on SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all).

Other initiatives resulting from the Summit include: the Global Alliance for Urban Crises, a multi-stakeholder initiative to provide knowledge, build capacities and develop data-informed and evidence-based approaches to humanitarian crises in urban settings; a ‘Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action,’ highlighting the need to involve people with disabilities in developing humanitarian programs, and ensure that services and humanitarian assistance are equally available for and accessible to all people with disabilities; the ‘Connecting Business Initiative’ led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), OCHA and UNDP, to support 40 private sector-led networks for disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery; and a call for action to protect journalists and promote independent reporting in crisis situations, in line with SDG 16.

A Chair’s Summary of the proceedings outlines the commitments made by participants, as well as next steps. It notes that a publicly available Commitment to Action platform will be created, to list all individual and joint commitments. [WHS Website] [Chair’s Summary: Standing up for Humanity: Committing to Action] [WHS Programme] [UNGA President Opening Remarks] [UN Press Release, 24 May] [UN News, 23 May] [UN News, 22 May] [European Commission Statement] [MDBs Joint Statement] [Press Release on UN Commitment to Action] [UNESCO Call for Action to Protect Journalists] [FAO Press Release on Global Partnership for Preparedness] [UNDP-Switzerland Agreement] [UNDP Press Release] [UN News on UNICEF ‘Education Cannot Wait’ Fund] [UN News on Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities] [FAO Press Release on Building Resilience] [FAO Press Release on Commitments at the Summit] [UN Habitat Press Release on Global Alliance for Urban Crises] [Press Release on Connecting Business Initiative] [IISD RS Story on UN Call for Commitments] [IISD RS Story on UN Secretary-General Report]


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