World Humanitarian Summit

The EU and its Member States’ Position



Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on the World Humanitarian Summit

1. The World Humanitarian Summit [WHS] is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the global community to assume its shared responsibility to save lives, alleviate suffering and preserve human dignity. The EU and its Member States welcome the powerful vision set out in the UN Secretary-General’s Report “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” and its “Agenda for Humanity”.

2. The EU and its Member States are committed to strong progress on each of the five core responsibility areas, for which core commitments have been formulated by the UN.

3. To make the vision of the UN Secretary-General a reality, the WHS must bring about transformative change and decisive action by all stakeholders, building on the commitments of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The WHS will also represent an important step along the path to the UNGA Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016. We are committed to playing our full part in this collective endeavour.

4. As the world’s biggest humanitarian donor, the EU and its Member States have been at the forefront in supporting the WHS. [Commission Communication “Towards the World Humanitarian Summit: A global partnership for principles and effective humanitarian action” (11667/15), Council Conclusions on the World Humanitarian Summit preparatory process (15232/15), European Parliament resolution on preparing for the World Humanitarian Summit: Challenges and opportunities for humanitarian assistance (2015/2051(INI)) ] We reiterate our commitment to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, [as also enshrined in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid (OJ C 25 of 30.01.2008, p. 1) ] and to preventing politicisation and instrumentalisation of humanitarian aid. We call on world leaders and all stakeholders to do the same in Istanbul.

Global leadership to prevent and end conflicts

5. Humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for political solutions. The root causes of crises and conflicts must be addressed so as to end needless loss of lives and human suffering. The primary responsibility to prevent and solve conflicts lies with national governments and non-state parties to armed conflict, and requires engagement of communities and civil society in political and governance processes. The EU and its Member States recognise the distinct role of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peace processes. The EU and its Member States stand ready to support these processes by reinforcing investments in early warning and early action and by mobilising the full array of their policies and instruments in line with the EU comprehensive approach, [Joint Communication “The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises” (17859/13); Council Conclusions on the EU’s comprehensive approach (9644/14)] which addresses all stages of conflicts or other external crises through early warning and preparedness, conflict prevention and mediation, crisis response and management, to early recovery, stabilisation and peace-building. The EU and its Member States reconfirm that resolving and preventing conflicts, and preventing relapses into conflict, is a primary objective of the EU’s external action.

Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity

6. The EU and its Member States will continue to advocate strongly and consistently for the respect of international law, including international humanitarian law (IHL), refugee law and international human rights law. Serious violations of IHL cause intolerable human suffering and aggravate humanitarian crises. All parties to armed conflict must comply with IHL, including with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution as also reflected in international customary law. This is of particular importance for the protection of civilians, detainees and those hors de combat, as well as of civilian objects. [such as schools, cultural objects and places of worship ] It is also of paramount importance for the protection of humanitarian and healthcare personnel, patients, and medical facilities; the EU and its Member States will continue to actively promote all possible measures to prevent them from being targeted in conflicts. The EU and its Member States will continue placing respect for IHL at the top of the international agenda, strengthening dialogue and cooperation among States on the implementation of IHL and fully implementing the EU guidelines on the promotion of compliance with international humanitarian law [OJ C 303 of 15.12.2009 ] .

7. States have the primary responsibility to ensure accountability for violations of IHL. The EU and its Member States call upon all States to fight impunity for IHL violations, and upon all parties to an armed conflict to support global efforts to systematically monitor, report and investigate IHL violations and ensure accountability. We support efforts to reinforce the global justice system, namely by strengthening the capacity of domestic jurisdictions, in particular by further developing procedures for mutual legal assistance, and further promoting the cooperation with independent and impartial national, regional and international mechanisms, so that those responsible for IHL violations are promptly brought to justice. The EU and its Member States will continue supporting the International Criminal Court, not least by promoting universality and complementarity with domestic judicial systems. We call upon members of the UN Security Council not to vote against credible draft resolutions before the Security Council on timely and decisive action to end the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or to prevent such crimes.

8. The EU and its Member States will integrate protection measures throughout the response cycle, taking into account the needs, vulnerabilities and capacities of specific population groups. Increased advocacy efforts are needed to ensure humanitarian access enabling safe, unimpeded and timely delivery of assistance to all people in need.

9. The EU and its Member States are determined to work towards eradicating all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, to ensure that survivors are treated with dignity and receive necessary support to help rebuild their lives, and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.

Leaving no one behind

10. The pledge of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind, and to endeavour to reach those furthest behind first, must apply equally to the people affected by humanitarian crises and disasters, including refugees and internally displaced persons. The EU and its Member States reiterate their commitment to put people at the centre of their humanitarian action. Women, children, older persons and people with disabilities are disproportionally vulnerable to the effects of disasters and conflicts. Humanitarian operations must take into account their specific needs and capacities and involve them throughout the response cycle.

11. The EU and its Member States propose a new, development-oriented policy framework to address forced displacement, together with humanitarian assistance. This approach is set out in the Commission Communication ‘Lives in Dignity: from Aid-dependence to Self-reliance: Forced displacement and development’. [8339/16, COM(2016) 234 ] Its aim is to foster the self-reliance and resilience of the displaced and their host communities through securing sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services, including education at all levels. This framework will build upon a broad engagement between international donors, host governments, local communities, civil society and the displaced themselves with the objective of improving living conditions during protracted forced displacement, achieving durable solutions for ending displacement and mitigating the shock of large-scale movements of people on host countries.

12. The EU and its Member States are tackling the multi-dimensional root causes of the current refugee crisis and broader forced displacement, including by stepping up their efforts on conflict prevention, resolving existing conflicts and addressing climate change challenges and human rights abuses, all of which are major drivers of forced displacement. The EU and its Member States will continue promoting collective global responses to the root causes of forced displacement, contributing to finding durable solutions, and building the resilience of vulnerable communities.

13. The EU and its Member States are committed to ensure the full and equal participation and representation of women and girls in disaster risk reduction (DRR), conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, and in all phases of the humanitarian assistance and the development process. We reconfirm our commitment to UNSC Resolution 1325 and its follow-up resolutions, and to fully implement the EU’s second Gender Action Plan for the period 2016-2020, [Joint Staff Working Document “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020”, annexed to the Council Conclusions on the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 (13201/15) ] which provides a results-oriented framework to advance the agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment in all EU external relations. The Council encourages all EU Member States to join the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies Communiqué [The Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies Communiqué was launched by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in November 2013; ] and implement the Roadmap. [The Call to Action Road Map 2016-2020 was launched by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs/Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Margot Wallström on 1 October 2015 at the High-level event of the 70th UN General Assembly in New York; ]

From delivering aid to reducing need

14. The EU and its Member States will further enhance efforts to address drivers of vulnerability and to protect development outcomes. The EU and its Member States in particular see the need to better link humanitarian aid and development cooperation from the pre-crisis stage onwards, to better anticipate, prepare for and respond to a crisis or disaster, and to build resilience. Forging synergies between the respective instruments, including those related to climate change, DRR and poverty eradication, will be crucial.

15. The EU and its Member States commit to ensuring that the international humanitarian system is able to address current and future challenges in a reliable and predictable way. This requires strong, empowered leadership at both international and local levels, risk-informed joint assessments and analysis, a focus on delivering quality outcomes through collective, system-wide action, and greater accountability. The EU and its Member States call for collaborative humanitarian action that transcends siloes and involves affected governments, UN agencies, NGOs, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the private sector, faith-based organisations and other groups, based on the comparative advantages of each actor.

16. Local ownership and leadership are essential. Humanitarian aid should be provided as locally as possible and as internationally as necessary, in full respect of the humanitarian principles. Capacity-building and empowerment of local responders is crucial. Where possible, we will promote ways to enable local actors to better anticipate and mitigate risks, and to prepare and respond to crises.

17. Innovative approaches, partnerships, financing and technologies, and harnessing science and research, are important for ensuring an efficient and effective response to increasing humanitarian needs. The digital revolution can drive transparency and accountability, particularly vis-à-vis affected people. The EU and its Member States support multi-stakeholder collaboration to harness insights from the private sector and academia to spur effective and demand-driven humanitarian innovation.

Investing in humanity

18. The EU and its Member States welcome the report of the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing and its focus on shrinking humanitarian needs, deepening and broadening the resources base, and improving delivery.

19. The EU and its Member States commend the generous contributions being made by other donors, and encourage all States to embrace their share of responsibility for humanity according to their capacities and based on the humanitarian principles. The EU and its Member States encourage broadening of the funding base, including through stronger involvement of citizens, civil society, the private sector, Islamic Social Finance, multilateral development banks within their respective mandates, and other means.

20. The EU and its Member States welcome the Grand Bargain between donors and humanitarian organisations and encourage both sides to undertake the necessary reforms to ensure that funding is spent in the most effective and efficient way, with full transparency and accountability towards both the affected people and taxpayers. The EU and its Member States encourage the UN to complete the roll-out of the Transformative Agenda and move towards a model of more collaborative efficiency and collective outcomes.

Implementation and reporting

21. The success of the WHS will depend on the timely implementation of all stakeholders’ commitments. The EU and its Member States call for strong UN leadership to ensure inclusive, accountable, transparent and efficient follow-up. We will regularly report on the implementation of our commitments and encourage all other stakeholders to do the same

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