The motto of the World Humanitarian Summit, which took place on May 23rd and 24th was #Share Humanity. More than 9,000 participants from 173 States, including 55 Heads of State and Government were gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to debate about the Humanitarian challenge in times of natural disasters, conflicts and refugee crisis.

World Humanitarian Summit opening ceremony
World Humanitarian Summit opening ceremony

“Standing up for humanity: committing to action” was the call for all stakeholders present at the World Humanitatian Summit, promoting the idea that non-profit organizations, civil society, public and private sectors should be united for the defense of human rights. “The Summit has brought to the forefront of global attention the scale of the changes required if we are to address the magnitude of the challenges before us”, stated the Chair’s Summary of the event. The document highlighted the desperate situation of more than 130 million people – affected by conflicts, poverty and climate change, and are amongst the most vulnerable populations in the world.

Global leaders are aware of the importance of the political will to prevent and end conflicts. Nevertheless, their actions can only be effective with the support of all social stakeholders and the use of diverse tools – preventive diplomacy, sustainable development, commitment to climate change policies and building of more inclusive and respectful societies. The leaders present at the Summit pledged to increase their investments and teams dedicated to conflict prevention and also to engage and empower youth, communities and women over the process.

Global leaders gathered during the World Humanitarian Summit
Global leaders gathered during the World Humanitarian Summit

Legal Framework

In order to safeguard humanity and to enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflict regions, heads of State and humanitarian leaders stressed the importance of creating and developing a legal framework. During the summit, global leaders announced commitments to enhance compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law by ratifying international treaties, adopting local legislation, improving monitoring and reporting of violations. Participants also pledged to promote protection of universities, schools and journalists in armed conflict regions by setting guidelines and plans of action. Since many hospital and medical facilities have been attacked in many of these regions, leaders also discussed how to raise awareness and build trust for health care teams.

Leave no one behind

The international community has demonstrated a commitment to promote sustainable development for all, including the 60 million people displaced and victims of crisis who deserve global attention, life, dignity and opportunities to thrive! The leadership of the many countries that welcomed refugees was praised and global leaders agreed on sharing responsibilities to address the current crisis. Governments and private organizations will enhance education and living conditions of displaced people, as well as tailor-made financial services.

The humanitarian action should also be backed by women inclusion and empowerment and promotion of gender equality worldwide – the lack of female leaders and decision makers is a global challenge that helps to increase inequality. New financial support programs were announced during the Summit, as well as commitments on sexual and reproductive health care.

Launching of Education Cannot Wait
Launching of Education Cannot Wait

Education can’t wait

A Fund for education in emergencies, Education Can’t Wait, was launched at the Summit, in order to support quality education to all children in crisis situations by 2030. “Education Cannot Wait galvanized an initial commitment of $90 million from donors and the private sector, with greater commitments expected in the lead up to the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. The Global Business Coalition for Education announced its intentions to mobilize $100 million for this Fund in financial and in-kind contributions”, says the Chair Summary.

Change people’s lives

By engaging all social stakeholders, the Summit is sending a message that humanitarian emergencies can’t be viewed as isolated from sustainable development efforts. With the conjoint work of all actors, including the direct affected populations, better solutions and outcomes will be reached. “People affected by crises need to not only be informed and consulted, but put at the centre of the decision-making processes”, states the Summary.

Overview of World Humanitarian Summit
Overview of World Humanitarian Summit


• The Summit launched the Regional Organisations Humanitarian Action Network, in order to strengthen collaboration amongst regional organisations.

• A Global Preparedness Partnership was launched by Finance Ministers of the most 20 vulnerable countries, with the support of the UN and World Bank, setting a goal to reach a minimum level of readiness to future shocks by 2020.

• The Global Alliance for Urban Crisis was launched to develop precarious urban settings, in partnership with local municipal communities and governments, while the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation intends to improve humanitarian action through innovative processes, approached and tools.

• The private sector must be also involved! The Connecting Business Initiative brings together 11 national private sector networks. Some industries like satellite and mobile launched plans to increase connectivity for affected populations.

Invest in Humanity

It’s a capitalist world – and the role of financing is key for sustainable development. Over 130 million worldwide need to have access not only to humanitarian assistance but to rebuild their lives. There was broad support from Member States to increase the Central Emergency Response Fund to $1 billion. This included a 25% increase by one country, a pledge to provide $149 million over 5 years, as well as an initiative to use risk financing to establish an innovative financing mechanism linked to risk insurance”, states the Summary.

In an effort to generate more data and solutions to promote economic resilience in fragile states, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank also announced the Global Financing Response Platform.

Closing ceremony with Ban Ki Moon
Closing ceremony with Ban Ki Moon

Way forward

The World Humanitarian Summit is a start, a call to action. By uniting voices and creating momentum, it starts a global conversation that should never stop – countries must honor their agreements and keep collaborating to share better times to come. The individual and joint commitments will be published in a Commitment to Action platform, which will be publicly accessible. Based on this document, next steps and recommendations will follow up. Horyou blog will follow all its steps, not only as a witness, but as an actor. By promoting communities empowerment, economic inclusion and network opportunity, we also #ShareHumanity.

Written by Vívian Soares

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