Beijing – The first world humanitarian summit opened in Istanbul Monday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging governments, aid groups, private sector and other stakeholders to act to improve the global humanitarian system. In his opening remarks to the two-day summit, Ban called on the participants to align themselves with the five core responsibilities, such as preventing and ending conflicts and respecting the rules of war.
He put a particular emphasis on the issue of displaced populations, calling on the world to significantly reduce the number of the displaced in the years to come. “I urge you to commit to cutting half (the number of ) internally displaced people by 2030 and to find better long-term solutions for refugees and displaced people based on more equal sharing of responsibilities,” he said.
While addressing the opening ceremony, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan cited the heavy burden on Turkey in tackling the Syrian refugee crisis and stressed the need to revamp the global humanitarian system. “The current system fails to meet the demands in the face of emergency problems and fails to develop solutions. Only certain countries take the responsibility. From now on everyone should share the burden.
Attending the summit are some 5,200 participants, including 65 heads of state and government and representatives from crises-affected communities, NGOs, the private sector and UN agencies, according to figures released by the United Nations. Of the 192 UN member states, 177 are represented at the summit. The event, which was proposed by Ban Ki-moon in January 2012, is a culmination of a four-year-long preparatory process, including an extensive global consultation with 23,000 stakeholders in 153 countries to identify the key humanitarian challenges facing the world.
The main topic for the summit is the Agenda for Humanity formulated by Ban, which focuses on five core commitments — preventing and ending conflicts, respecting the rules of war, reaching out the vulnerable, complementing humanitarian actions with development efforts, and ensuring sufficient funding for humanitarian responses. Speaking to reporters Sunday in Istanbul, Stephen O’Brien, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, described the summit as “a once in a generation opportunity to set in motion an ambitious and far-reaching agenda to change the way that we alleviate, and most importantly prevent, the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Due to an increase of conflicts in the past two decades and various natural disasters taking place in the period, the need for humanitarian funding is unprecedented, with UN-led appeals having grown six-fold from 3.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2003 to nearly 21 billion dollars in 2015.