World Humanitarian Summit – A new impetus to Istanbul and beyond

The head of humanitarian operations of the UN (OCHA), the British Stephen O’Brien, and the new Director of the Secretariat of the Global Humanitarian Summit, the French Antoine Gerard, are working doubly hard to prepare the Summit, to be held 23 and May 24 in Istanbul.

After an information meeting of Permanent Missions in Geneva in mid-December, Mr. Stephen O’Brien returned to Geneva on January 19, was in the evening in Davos to speak at the World Economic Forum (WEF), returned in New York Monday, January 25 to inform the Permanent Missions in New York, will be from 27 to 30 January in Addis Ababa at the African Union Summit, entitled “2016 African Year of Human Rights’ (2016 is indeed the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the two a Human Rights Covenants), will go through London on February 4 for a co-hosted conference organized by the UK, Kuwait and Norway on the Syrian crisis (“Supporting Syria & the Region”) and will return to New York to present the Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on February 9 …

The Summit, which is expected to host some 5,000 participants representing the Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Heads of humanitarian organizations and senior leaders of NGOs and civil society now appears more clearly, in both in its necessity and the seriousness of its organization (for which Turkey is making great efforts, both by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Development Cooperation (TIKA) and the Office of the Prime Minister for emergency disaster (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent).

The need for this Spring Summit is being underlined by the ongoing events and calls by politicians and humanitarian in front of successive crisis and challenge that would require more resources and also a reflexion on better use of existing resources and humanitarian aid development, and a focus on local resources.

The organization of the two-day summit in Istanbul Congress Center (“Istanbul Congress Center (ICC)”) and the Exhibition Center (“Lutfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center (LKCC)”) adjacent to it should result in:

  • A Summit Plenary Announcement where Heads of States and organizations will speak,
  • High-Level Roundtables”,
  • Special Events on interesting themes such as protection, respect for international humanitarian law and also the role of faith-based humanitarian organisms,
  • Side-Events open to Governments, international organizations, NGOs, civil society, individual experts,
  • Fair and Exhibition Innovation Marketplace, which should allow , as in Sendai in March 2015, the private sector, research institutes and training to share their projects and achievements.

Some delegations, including the one of the European Union, have expressed their intention to be present on all these platforms.

Registration is open on the Summit website since Monday, January 25

The United Nations Secretary-General’s report should be published in late January and presented in New York on February 9.

The outline of this report, according to Stephen O’Brien, should focus on “Placing humanity at the center of global decision making”; “This is not just a moral imperative necessity strategic goal has to confront today’s global challenges”.

The Secretary-General will refer to the three pillars of the UN:

  • Peace and security,
  • Sustainability,
  • Human rights.

The Nations Secretary-General’s report should incorporate the conclusions of the following international meetings:

The Secretary-General stressed in his report the five core responsibilities that the international community should take:

  • Conflicts: preventing and find peaceful solutions: the international community must be proactive, investing in stability and seek solutions for and with people. In fact, we must find solutions to reduce the needs that are increasing ant that the humanitarian system must cater : the appeal launched last month mentioned a figure of over 87 million people in 37 countries seeking humanitarian assistance; One year ago, this figure was 57 million …
  • Law and humanitarian principles: the report of the Secretary-General will reaffirm the need that all meet the standards that safeguard our humanity, including international humanitarian law, human rights, refugee law and humanitarian principles as … And to quote the images of children starving in the besieged Syrian city of Madaya: the seat is a barbaric tactic that has no place in the 21st century … All those in need should have access to assistance and protection … the global humanitarian humanitarian Summit will be a time when world leaders should commit publicly to respect the rules that protect the individual during armed conflict: it will take action face to violations and also to ensuring that persons in need of assistance and protection can benefit.
  • Priority action for the most vulnerable: the Secretary General’s report recalled that we can achieve the objectives of Agenda 2030 on sustainable development without taking into account the need not to “leave no one behind”. In this sense, it will take into account the needs of people displaced within their own countries, refugees, migrants, stateless persons, women, girls, children, the elderly, the disabled … The forced displacement crisis struck public opinion in Europe; but almost most parts of the world are affected. We must therefore do more to help countries and communities hosting refugees and displaced persons. A long-term assistance, including investments in infrastructure and services are in the mutual interest of host communities and displaced persons. And we must also support the voluntary return, in dignity and safety.
  • « move from delivering aid to ending needs » to efficiently address the humanitarian and development challenges of today and tomorrow, consider the risks and vulnerabilities, strengthen rather than replace local and national structures, overcome division between humanitarian and development, no longer work in isolation (“We can no follow AFFORD to work in silos”), invest in partnerships that are more oriented on local action, inclusive, adapted to the context.
  • Commiting in humanity: the Secretary General of the United Nations and Mr. Stephen O’Brien were in the United Arab Emirates 17 January 2016 to present the Report of the High Level Group on the humanitarian funding entitled “Too big to fail – Reply to humanitarian funding gap “. Many of the recommendations of this Group will be reflected in the Secretary-General’s report. This means not only diversify and optimize the financing of humanitarian but also the financing of the management of risk, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The funding may take different forms, including insurance contracts … Investing in humanity, the Secretary-General emphasized, is primarily invest in local capacity.

Stephen O’Brien concluded both in Geneva and in New York on 19 January 25 announcing that the Secretary General of the United Nations, in annex to its report, propose an “Agenda for humanity” that summarizes the vision of the Secretary-General, will make a list of actions to be undertaken in connection with the five responsibilities that have just been mentioned and which will be developed in the Report. The “Agenda for Humanity” will provide the framework within which States and other actors can formulate a vision of action, change and mutual responsibility even beyond the Summit.

The outcomes of the Summit should in fact be taken up in a “Chair’s Summary”, as well as a “Commitments to Action Document” and finally in another report the Secretary-General to be presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this fall.

The Istanbul Summit should be a step on the road to a comprehensive review of the humanitarian assistance both in the protection of life and dignity of those affected. The Summit should also bring a better consideration of between humanitarian and security relationships, both at local, national and international.

Learn more …

Michel Veuthey,
Deputy Permanent Observer
Mission of the Sovereign Military Ordre of Malta to the United Nation Office at Geneva