World Humanitarian Summit 2016 - One Humanity: Shared Responsibility

News Post date February 24, 2016

This year, between 23 and 24 May, the first ever World Humanitarian Summit will be held in Istanbul. Managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the Summit aims to bring together a wide range of actors, including attendees from governments, private sector and humanitarian organisations, to discuss the key issues faced by our global community.

The Summit has three main goals:

  • To re-inspire and reinvigorate our commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles
  • To initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be more resilient to shocks
  • To share innovations and best practices that can help to save lives around the world, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.

On the 9 February, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched a report named One Humanity: Shared Responsibility, which highlights critical areas of focus for the World Humanitarian Summit under the Agenda for Humanity. The agenda identifies 5 Core Responsibilities, to be addressed by all stakeholders in order to “reaffirm our commitment to humanity and chart a course for change”:

  • Core Responsibility 1: Global leadership to prevent and end conflict
  • Core Responsibility 2: Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity
  • Core Responsibility 3: Leave no one behind
  • Core Responsibility 4: Change people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need
  • Core Responsibility 5: Invest in humanity

In isolation, the agenda itself could appear uninspired – asserting vague recommendations that many have long recognised, without the capability to implement them. However, accompanied by the full report, the documents provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and shortcomings that must be resolved if we are to initiate real change.

One Humanity: Shared Responsibility expands on each point of the agenda to give context, to identify current failures and also to offer suggestions on how to tackle such issues. While some subjects are deliberately left open for discussion at the Summit, refreshingly, Ban Ki-moon gives specific solutions to others. For example, on the topic of sustained engagement he writes, “I strongly encourage more systematic use of contact groups at the regional and international level that benefit from long-term engagement by their members. These contact groups should sustain political momentum, look beyond narrow electoral cycles, and provide a forum to exchange information and monitor developments on a continuous basis. To maintain political attention and sustained investment over the long-term, contact groups could explore the possibility of ‘mini-Marshall Plans’ after conflicts”. Through this approach Ban Ki-moon centres conversations, in this case on the potential of contact groups, which can be built upon during the Summit to consolidate definitive, appropriate resolutions, on how to best sustain political momentum through contacts group for instance.

It is crucial that different actors collaboratively discuss the agenda items at the Summit to develop solutions, but it also essential that this report has put forward specific actions ahead of the Summit. Too often such conferences fail to initiate any progressive action as debates lack focus, whereas the World Humanitarian Summit stands to facilitate the advancement of practical solutions and how to achieve them.

At Rescue Global, we feel encouraged to see some acceptance that change is needed not only within the humanitarian sector, but also across all actors involved in addressing human suffering. The first World Humanitarian Summit will hopefully mark a historic step towards better global collaboration and sharing of responsibility. Many of the points that are set to be addressed at the Summit are those that we have been championing for years – from establishing better means for engagement between all sectors, to empowering national systems. Above all, it is critical that this Summit initiates real improvement, to “turn promises into action for this generation, and uphold people’s safety, dignity and the right to thrive”.

Read the Agenda for Humanity here:

Read One Humanity: Shared Responsibility here:

Interactive report:

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