UN Secretary-General's Opening Remarks at Launch of Report for World Humanitarian Summit "One Humanity: Shared Responsibility" [As delivered]
New York, 9 February 2016
I thank the President of the General Assembly for hosting this important meeting.
On May 23rd and 24th, I am convening the first ever in the history of the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
I thank the Government of Turkey for its generous offer to host the Summit.
In preparation, I have prepared a report: “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility”, which is before you.
I welcome this opportunity to brief you today.
We face profound, urgent and growing global challenges as was just presented by the President of the General Assembly.
Brutal and seemingly intractable conflicts are devastating the lives of millions and destabilizing entire regions.
Violent extremism, terrorism and transnational crime are creating persistent instability.
The widening gap between rich and poor is marginalizing and alienating the most vulnerable in society.
Climate change is having a profound impact with increasingly frequent and intense storms, floods and droughts.
Levels of need are at record levels, but the political solutions to relieve them are elusive.
Today’s complex challenges cross borders and surpass the capacity of any single country or institution to cope.
We need to restore trust in our global world order and in the capacities of our national and regional institutions to confront these challenges effectively.
We need to show the millions of people living in conflict -- with chronic needs and constant fear -- the solidarity that they deserve and expect.
The urgency of these challenges and the scale of the suffering mean we must accept our shared responsibilities and act decisively, with compassion and resolve.
The World Humanitarian Summit is the moment for us to come together to renew our commitment to humanity and the unity and cooperation required to prevent and end crisis and reduce people suffering and vulnerability.
Last year, your governments endorsed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Now we must implement these commitments.
We must ensure no-one in conflict, no-one in chronic poverty, and no-one living with the risk of natural hazards and rising sea levels is left behind.
The Agenda for Humanity I present to you today will help us achieve this. This is why I ask you and your leaders to commit to take it forward.
This is a moral responsibility and a strategic necessity.
If we do not prevent and end conflicts, increase resilience and reduce vulnerability we will not meet our sustainable development goals.
People in crisis want what we all want -- safety, dignity and the opportunity to thrive.
These rights are universally endorsed in our core international instruments: the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2030 Agenda.
They are central to our international order.
And, therefore, people’s interests, needs and vulnerabilities must be at the centre of all we do.
A sense of shared humanity must shape our politics, steer our behaviour, and drive our financial decisions.
The report I launch today provides my Agenda for Humanity – with five core responsibilities for action.
First, leaders must assume their responsibility to prevent and end conflict.
They must commit to work with greater intensity to find political solutions to end bloodshed and suffering.
The enormous human and economic cost makes conflicts the biggest obstacle to human development.
This should compel us to make conflict resolution our highest priority.
We must move from managing crises to preventing them.
Second, States must affirm their responsibility to uphold the norms that safeguard humanity.
States need to respect the rules they have endorsed in international humanitarian and human rights law.
This means complying with the rules of distinction, proportionality and precaution and stopping bombing and shelling populated areas, where civilians account for the vast majority of deaths.
We must reaffirm our commitment to national and international justice.
And we must end impunity for those who flaunt these laws.
I am calling for a global campaign to boost respect and compliance for international humanitarian and human rights law.
Enough is enough. Even wars have rules. It is time to enforce them.
Third, let us leave no one behind – and reach those who are furthest behind, first.
The World Humanitarian Summit provides a test of our commitment to transform the lives of those living in situations of conflict, disaster, and acute vulnerability.
Among those furthest behind are people who have been forcibly displaced – often for decades.
We must commit to reducing displacement by 2030.
We must also recognize the significant global public good that host countries and communities provide.
We need to find better ways to share this responsibility equitably and predictably.
These issues will also be the focus of the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly on large movements of refugees and migrants, on 19 September.
We must also empower and protect women and girls.
Meeting their needs and placing women in positions of decision-making at all levels is imperative.
Education in protracted crises must also be given priority.
No child or adolescent should be denied an education because they are in a crisis situation or because of a lack of funds.
Youth are our present and our future.
We must provide them with opportunities and engage them in all we do.
The fourth core responsibility is to change people’s lives by moving from delivering aid to ending need
To achieve this, we must reinforce national and local systems – not replace them.
We must respect and strengthen local leadership and capacity, not undermine them.
We must support the resilience of people and communities who will always be the first and last responders in crises.
We must also anticipate crises.
That means investing in data and risk analysis, acting early on this information, and managing risk before and after crises.
We must transcend the humanitarian-development divide by working to reduce people’s vulnerability and risk.
The protracted and recurrent nature of crises and the ambition of the 2030 Agenda demand it.
This will require UN agencies and international actors to commit to work across mandates, sectors and institutional boundaries. Donors will need to commit to finance differently.
Istanbul must mark the moment at which we overcome this divide for good.
Fifth, and finally, we must invest in humanity -- in enhancing local capacities, reducing risk and building effective and inclusive institutions, especially in fragile contexts.
We must also invest in smarter ways of financing and mobilizing resources.
This will require diversifying and expanding our resource base and using a wide variety of financing tools.
I have proposed that we establish a new international financing platform with the World Bank so we can explore new mechanisms to more predictably and adequately finance collective outcomes in protracted crises and fragile contexts.
We must enter into a “grand bargain”, as envisioned by the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, to be more transparent in how money is spent.
Taken as a whole, the Agenda for Humanity provides the key actions and strategic shifts the world needs.
I urge your leaders to come to the World Humanitarian Summit at the Head of State or Government level, ready to commit to action, change and mutual accountability.
You can begin now by making specific commitments at the Summit on each of the five core areas of responsibility.
Our aspirations are ambitious, but the urgency of the crises and the needs and expectations of hundreds of millions of people mean we must put this Agenda for Humanity into action.
We can only do so by working together and by committing to these shared core responsibilities at the highest political level in Istanbul.
I count on your highest support.
Let us make the World Humanitarian Summit a turning point in which we commit to placing humanity as a driver of our decision making and make concrete steps towards ending the suffering experienced by billions of people today .
Statements on 9 February 2016
- New York, 9 February 2016 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the death of former Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala
- New York , 9 February 2016 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Proposed Aviation Standards to Limit Carbon Emissions
- New York, 9 February 2016 - UN Secretary-General's remarks at the High Level Event: "In Stronger Partnership and Coordination to Stop Human Trafficking: Eradicating Modern-Day Slavery through Sustainable Development" [As delivered]