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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Oslo, 6 July 2015 - Secretary-General's remarks to Humanitarian Forum on the role of civil society in humanitarian emergencies

Jeg er glad for å besøke Norge!  [I am pleased to be visiting Norway]

I thank the Government of Norway and the Norwegian Red Cross for hosting this important event. I am pleased to be in Oslo in this crucially important year for sustainable development and humanitarian action.

I am especially happy to be here not only with such good friends of the United Nations, but also some very good friends of mine.

Half a century ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a wonderful programme organized by the American Red Cross Society.  The VISTA programme -- for Visit of International Students to America – brought together young people from many countries.

This was really when my desire to be a public servant was born… when I first thought about being a diplomat… and when my own humanitarian imperative took shape.

I am pleased to note that each and every member of that group, in his or her own way, has gone on to make contributions to the common good.   Many of them are here today. 

I continue to draw inspiration from having kept in touch with them for more than fifty years.

I have also been a great admirer of the Red Cross since those days.  It has been an honour, as Secretary-General, to be a good partner of the Red Cross in tackling so many tough challenges and crises.

We gather at a time when our capacity to meet humanitarian needs is under unprecedented strain.

At the beginning of this year, the United Nations and its partners were aiming to assist 57.5 million people in 22 countries. Just six months later, we are seeking urgent help to support 78.9 million people. This is nearly double the number of a decade ago.

Norway remains one of the world’s strongest supporters of humanitarian action. Non-governmental organizations including the Norwegian Red Cross and the Norwegian Refugee Council play a pivotal role.

Norway’s private sector is also very active in the search for innovation in emergency preparedness and response.

These contributions are part of a massive global effort that is saving lives, supporting livelihoods and protecting people from violence.

Civil society organizations are playing an ever growing role, from the earthquakes in Nepal to avalanches in Afghanistan, from Ebola inWest Africa to many other frontlines of conflict and disaster.

Local organizations understand the context, culture, language and needs.  They are a vital link between Government, global and grass roots.  In a disaster, they can be faster and more flexible than larger organizations.  At all times, they provide bonds of solidarity and trust. Women’s groups play a particularly valuable role in supporting the economic and social fabric.

Yet I am keenly aware that this service comes with great sacrifice.  Last year, 88 per cent of all attacks against humanitarian workers were against local aid workers.

The international community must do more to support the critical role of civil society.

For these and other reasons, civil society organizations are important stakeholders in the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, which I will convene in Istanbul in May next year.

As part of the lead-up to the Summit, civil society organizations have helped to organize eight regional consultations in which we have reached out to nearly 15,000 people in 135 countries. As we create a more diverse, inclusive and truly global humanitarian system, we must use the strengths of all actors.

The rise of global humanitarian action is one of humanity’s greatest moral achievements.

Today our goal is a world where every woman, man and child in need can receive some form of assistance and protection from the impacts of disaster, conflict, displacement, hunger or disease.

This world is now within our grasp.

Together we can make this vision a reality.

Tusen takk. [Thank you very much]

Statements on 6 July 2015