Istanbul, Turkey

24 May 2016

Secretary-General's press conference with President Erdogan of Turkey at the World Humanitarian Summit [scroll down for Q&A]

Good afternoon, Your Excellency President Erdogan,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Merhaba. Degerli katilimcilar, hepiniz hosgeldiniz [Dear participants, welcome to all],

Let me begin by thanking His Excellency the President, the Government and people of Turkey for their hospitality, and for their role at the forefront of humanitarian action.

The World Humanitarian Summit has been a unique event, in form as well as substance.

I convened this Summit because we have reached a level of human suffering without parallel since the founding of the United Nations.

We have the wealth, knowledge and awareness to take better care of one another.  But we need action, based on the five Core Responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity:

Political leadership to prevent and end conflicts;
Upholding the norms that safeguard humanity;
Leaving no one behind;
Moving from delivering aid to ending need;
And investing in humanity.

That is why I called on Governments, affected communities, NGOs and the private sector, regional organizations and others to join the United Nations in seeking out lasting solutions.

That call was heard and heeded.  One hundred and seventy three Member States,  55 Heads of State and Government, some 350 private sector representatives, and thousands of people from civil society and non-governmental organizations have come together with energy and commitment.

We can be proud of what we have achieved. We must now take it forward, together.

It is disappointing that some world leaders could not be here, especially those from the G7 countries, apart Chancellor Angela Merkel from Germany. They are some of the most generous donors of funding for humanitarian action, but I urge their greater engagement, particularly in the search for political solutions.

The pledges are still coming in. So far, more than 400 Member States, organizations and other groups have made some 1,500 commitments. These will kickstart transformative change from the top down, and from the ground up. 

For example:

• The Education Cannot Wait fund will help provide quality education to children and youth in crises.
• A ‘Grand Bargain’ will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of investment in emergency response.
• The Global Preparedness Partnership will better prepare twenty of the countries  that are most at risk of  crisis
• And the One Billion Coalition for Resilience aims to mobilize a billion people to build safer and more stable communities worldwide.
Ladies and gentlemen,

Aligning the interests of such a diverse constellation of actors is inherently challenging.

Divisions between the members of the Security Council have prevented progress in recent years, not only on critical issues of war and peace, but on humanitarian affairs.

That is why I make a special appeal to leaders of the nations that are Permanent Members of that Council to take important steps at the highest level.  The absence of these leaders from this meeting does not provide an excuse for inaction. They have a unique responsibility to pursue peace and stability, and to support the most vulnerable.
That is the foundation for the major agreements of the past two years: the Sendai Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The United Nations will continue to pursue these aims, and I urge all Member States to exercise their influence to support our efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Looking forward, we will monitor and assess our progress, and make full use of intergovernmental processes and other forums, including the High-Level Meeting on large movements of Refugees and Migrants to be held in New York on September 19.

Humanitarian action is at the core of the United Nations Charter and our shared promise to the world’s people for security, sustainable development and human rights. 

Together we must demonstrate that we are one humanity, with shared responsibility.

Thank you. Tesekkur ederim.

Question about the weight of the Syrian conflict in the World Humanitarian Summit.

SG: WHS, the World Humanitarian Summit, has direct implications with the Syrian situation.

In fact, the Syrian situation has led many millions of people to flee their country, at least 4.5 million people, and there are at least 12 million people who need humanitarian assistance.

On top of that, we have now so many crises happening at the same time. That is why we have decided, out of necessity, out of urgent necessity, to convene this [Summit] to raise some political awareness and to get some political support from world leaders.

If you compare statistics, in 2000, the United Nations and the whole international community needed 20 billion dollars for a whole year, every year.

This has been increasing most recently with all this Syrian crisis continuing for six years, Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic. We cannot manage. Now we need 245 billion dollars a year [including] to address humanitarian issues. That is 12 times more. In 15 years, the needs have grown 12 times. How can you [manage] all this? This is double the amount of Official Development Assistance annually.

Therefore, this is an unusually difficult situation. That is why the United Nations has decided to let the world leaders know and discus wanted to have political solutions. It’s not the number, it’s not the resources. I think if there is political will, if there is political commitment, then we can handle these matters.

The United Nations has been initiating, has been organizing many of what we call pledging conferences, here and there, on a case by case [basis]. Now Member States have been tired of all these pledging Conferences. I don’t think this kind of situation will end soon and that is why one of the priorities, one of the five core responsibilities and priorities, is to end the needs, or reduce the needs, so that we can handle this matter with lesser resources.

I hope that this Humanitarian Summit has created some important political momentum where world leaders show their global solidarity, unity and compassionate leadership for those people who are suffering, who need our daily life saving assistance [without which] they will die.

They are the most vulnerable people and I sincerely hope that with this meeting, the United Nations and all international community leaders will be more committed.

Question about the Secretary-General saying it was disappointing that most G7 leaders didn’t participate in the World Humanitarian Summit.

SG:  First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to deeply appreciate those countries who have been represented here: 173 and 55 leaders. They have  shown their strong commitment.

And I also appreciate many business community leaders who have come and shown strong engagement and commitment to work with the United Nations, to work with all the humanitarian international agencies and workers to provide expertise and resources, and financial support.

We have [also] met so many civil society [actors]. In that regard, we are one, we have been showing great solidarity for the most vulnerable people.

In this regard, we normally expect developed countries and rich countries to do more on their own. Official Development Assistance that has been the basic framework for supporting many developing countries has been very slow in delivery as well as  low. That is why we need at least 240 billion dollars.

That is almost an impossible amount for the United Nations to manage unless this comes from Member States. And Member States have been generous to provide continuously resources but with all this global economy situation continuing, it’s not performing well.

So I fully understand that each and every country - whether you are coming from developed or developing [country], is having difficulties. That, I fully appreciate. But in the meantime, we have so much needs happening, whether man made or natural disasters.

Unfortunately, 80% of our financial resources are going in addressing man made crises, 80%. If there had been speedier and earlier actions to resolve all these issues through political dialogue, inclusive dialogue, then we could have reduce much of these needs but unfortunately, I am afraid to say that this kind of situations may continue.

We don’t see the beginning of the end in Syria, Libya, South Sudan and the Central African Republic – there are so many places that need some global political leadership and global leadership.

I believe we have the resources. The money which we are now trying to mobilize is just 1% of global annual military spending.  The answer is in a political will. If we reduce [the need], we can find [the financing]. Sustainable Development Goals and climate change will also require a lot of investment.

Therefore, I sincerely hope that leaders, particularly G7 leaders who are the richest countries in the world, will show leadership.

Even if this time, they haven’t been able to participate, I will try to understand, because each and every leader may have had difficult situations [to face]. But in the implementation process of this Humanitarian Summit meeting, I hope they will be more engaged. We naturally expect a continuing leadership from rich countries and OECD countries in general.

That is what I sincerely hope and I will convey this message to G7 leaders when I participate to the next summit in Japan .

No country in the world, no Organization in the world, however powerful or resourceful, can do [it] alone. All hands should be on deck, we need all Governments, business community and civil society to show their compassion.

Thank you very much.