Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York, 27 June 2016 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment on the World Humanitarian Summit [as delivered]
I thank ECOSOC, through Ambassador Lauber of Switzerland, for this opportunity to brief you on the outcomes and perspectives of the World Humanitarian Summit.
On behalf of the Secretary-General and myself, I first of all want to express our deep appreciation to the Government and people of Turkey for their extraordinary generosity and hospitality in hosting the Summit. I ask Director-General Ulusoy to convey this message of gratitude.
The Secretary-General once said that global commitment to humanitarian action is one of humanity’s highest moral achievements. I would add that upholding compassion and human dignity is one of the greatest global challenges of our time, in today’s world perhaps more urgent than ever.
Record numbers of people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection as underlined by Vice-President Lauber. At the same time there is a tangible sense of fatigue, even resignation, manifested in the greatest shortfalls ever in the funding needed.
Partly for this reason, the Secretary-General convened the World Humanitarian Summit and presented his Agenda for Humanity. The five core responsibilities set out in that Agenda go beyond meeting humanitarian needs. The Secretary-General recognized that only by bringing together the different strands of the work of the United Nations – political, development, humanitarian, human rights and more – will we be able to reduce or ultimately eliminate these needs. Only when we work horizontally will we be able to make it.
For the first time in the 70-year history of the United Nations, at the World Humanitarian Summit, Governments sat together with people affected by crises, with humanitarian and development organizations, and leaders from civil society and the business community, to discuss solutions to shared challenges.
Those of you who were in Istanbul know that this was a very special event, which channelled the best of the humanitarian spirit towards new thinking and creative solutions we need. 93 per cent of the UN’s membership – 180 Member States – participated. Together with the NGO and business community, they generated around 3000 commitments to action.
I would like to highlight the Summit’s achievements in four key areas.
First, the Summit marked a clear demonstration of leadership and political will to address the terrible cost and causes of crises. Leaders at the Summit recognized that most humanitarian crises basically need political, not humanitarian solutions. International humanitarian and human rights law is more relevant than ever, yet there is even a decay, a disregard for international humanitarian law. The leaders pledged to support these laws and to enhance the protection of civilians in conflicts.
However, we cannot be complacent. Despite many affirmations, there were few concrete commitments on preventing and ending conflict. We must work to turn words into action, if we want to make a real difference for millions of refugees and civilians caught up in conflict.
Second, the Summit consolidated important shifts in global humanitarian action within the broader political, peacekeeping and development contexts. There was overwhelming recognition that the needs of people in humanitarian crises or fragile situations are intertwined with needs of equitable development, political security and respect of human rights. This is a key challenge for all of us.
One of the greatest such shifts is the commitment to transcend the divide between humanitarian and development work. The Secretary-General and eight UN agencies committed to a ground-breaking new way of working, based on achieving collective outcomes over longer timelines. This new approach will not only meet people’s needs, it also aims to reduce risk and vulnerability over time, as well as to maximize the benefits of UN action.
Further, participants in Istanbul recognized the need to reinforce the critical role of local and national actors. They committed to increase collaboration, support and resources to those closest to the realities on the ground.
Third, the Summit generated several new partnerships and initiatives. Multilateral development banks came together to increase investment in fragile states and communities. Donors met with city mayors and urban leaders to find and to fund local solutions. The private sector formed coalitions to bring business skills and resources to people before and after crises. International and southern-based NGOs agreed on a charter to strengthen local response.
These partnerships bridge traditional divides, bring together diverse actors, and equip us to better meet unprecedented challenges.
Major concrete steps were also taken to support the most vulnerable, and deliver on the promise of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to ‘leave no one behind’. Leaders announced increased programming and funding to enable women and girls to take on roles as leaders and decision-makers, and to address the risk of gender based-violence. I must also remind you that there is now an addition to your mandate in resolution 1325 regarding women – resolution 2250 of last December on youth. We must bring in youth and work not only for but also with youth. This is another challenge to tackle in this area. Other commitments will give people displaced for long periods enhanced opportunities to learn and support themselves and their families, and I want here to thank Stephen O’Brien for including in this IDPs.
Finally, the Summit marked a clear shift in the way we act and think about financing. Here, I want to thank Kristalina Georgieva and the panel, some of whom I see in this room.
The World Humanitarian Summit recognized that we must move away from short-term to longer-term financing and investment. This will reduce risk, prevent and respond to crises and build resilience.
The Summit generated clear commitments to multi-year financing, to diversify the funding base, and to increase the reach of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), as well as to improve efficiency through cash programming. By the ‘Grand Bargain’, key aid agencies and donors agreed on steps to improve the effectiveness of their response.
The Secretary-General described the Summit as a turning point. So, what is next?
First, we must all, including the United Nations family, implement our commitments, develop initiatives and alliances and turn pledges of support into action.
Initial analysis on the commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit will be available to you shortly. The full compendium of commitments will be publicly accessible through a web-based platform in the months ahead. This will provide transparency and provide a way for stakeholders to self-report on the implementation of their individual commitments.
Second, we should all be prepared to engage also for the long-term. This transformation will take time and efforts.
We aim to strengthen the understanding of the solutions outlined in the Agenda for Humanity, and to work with you to secure your continued commitment. The country ownership is of course a central concept.
It is vital that we continue to champion the Five Core Responsibilities and to concretely live up to them. Limited improvements will not be sufficient for the scale of change that is needed.
Third, we must break out of our silos, find a new level of cooperation and use every chance to work together for change. The ECOSOC High Level Political Forum in July, the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and the Habitat Conference in October are opportunities to build on the Summit’s achievements.
Fourth, we need to assess and measure progress. An annual report will update on the developments and gaps in advancing the core responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity. Periodic assessments will be important as a follow-up to the Summit, and to fulfil the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind.
The Secretary-General in his upcoming report on the Summit will propose ways to maintain the momentum and to advance the Agenda for Humanity and its Five Core Responsibilities. I ask you, Member States, for your active cooperation.
In closing, let me say that during the five weeks since the Summit, thousands and thousands of people have been killed in conflict. Tens of thousands have been forced from their homes. Thousands of farmers and pastoralists have given up hope of making a living on land destroyed by drought, floods or sea level rise, related to climate change.
There is no room for delays; every day and every week counts. We must act with urgency, with tenacity and with solidarity to deliver the changes proposed and initiated at the World Humanitarian Summit.
I count on all of you to support this historic pursuit.
Statements on 27 June 2016
- New York, 27 June 2016 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment on the World Humanitarian Summit [as delivered]
- New York, 27 June 2016 - Deputy Secretary-General's opening remarks to the Fortieth Annual Conference of the Center for Oceans Law and Policy [as delivered]