The World Humanitarian Summit - a global fight for human rights

The World Humanitarian Summit - a global fight for human rights

20th May 2016

Currently, our world is witnessing the highest level of human suffering since WWII, and the biggest humanitarian crisis in our lifetime. There are, at present, around 60 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 409 ongoing conflicts, and over 100 million people affected by crises and natural disasters every day. What’s worse is that last year proved to be the lowest funding year globally for humanitarian issues, despite being the year with the largest humanitarian needs. This is why, for the first time in the history of the United Nations (UN), the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a two-day World Humanitarian Summit to take place in Istanbul commencing on 23 May 2016.

The World Humanitarian Summit has three main goals:

  1. to reinspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles;
  2. 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 resilient to shocks; and
  3. to share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.

Ban Ki-moon is calling for a reinvigorated humanitarian response. He says that in order to deliver this humanity, stakeholders must act promptly on five core responsibilities. These responsibilities are to:

  1. Prevent and end conflict – by ways such as acting early in potential conflict situations; improving international and local capacities to work on crisis; and addressing the root causes of conflicts;
  2. Respect the rules of war – by ways such as promoting respect for international human rights law; protecting civilians from danger and violence; ensuring that efficient humanitarian assistance is available when needed; and by condemning any violations of these guidelines;
  3. Leave no one behind – by ways such as supporting durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced people; sharing the responsibility for the large-scale movement of displaced refugees; and by provide funding and support for these movements;
  4. Work differently to end human need – by ways such as committing to a new way of working that meets immediate humanitarian needs; and by enabling coherent financing that avoids fragmentation by supporting collective outcomes;
  5. Invest in humanity – by ways such as increasing collective financial initiatives; increasing support for people in fragile situations; investing in risk management; and increasing and diversifying resource bases.

Other key objectives for the summit include creating effective responses to natural disasters and climate change, and, becoming a catalyst action for gender equality.

Those in attendance will include the heads of states and governments, and around 5,000 people representing global leaders from government, business, aid organisations, civil society, affected communities and youth. However, there is more to be done. It is not just up to our leaders to make the decisions for us; it is equally up to us, as global citizens, to encourage our leaders to support this initiative. The more pressure we put on our leaders to support humanitarian issues, the more positive global change we will see. As global citizens, we must commit to action to reduce human suffering. We must wholeheartedly support and put into action the resolutions from the World Humanitarian Summit and work towards ensuring that these key discussion points are implemented. To start acting now, visit the World Humanitarian Summit Webpage (https://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org/act).


Zoe Le Quesne was the Media and Policy Assistant at the Australian Lawyers Alliance until December 2016. She is passionate about human rights law and policy and has a huge heart for humanitarian issues. During her time studying at the University of New South Wales and the University of Leeds , Zoe was particularly interested in War Zone and Political Violence Journalism, Human Rights Law and Policy and Criminology. In her spare time Zoe volunteers her time at an organisation called Stop the Traffik, which fights to eliminate the trafficking of people in production lines, (focussing specifically in the fashion industry).

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are the authors' and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

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Tags: Human rights Zoe Le Quesne World Humanitarian Summit Reshape Aid Humanitarian Response