Priorities and Commitments
European Union helps reshape international assistance at the World Humanitarian Summit
Brussels, 20 May 2016 – Over 50 world leaders and 5 000 humanitarian, development and political stakeholders gather on 23-24 May, in Istanbul, to share responsibility to reverse the trend for increasing humanitarian needs and improve the effectiveness of response.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States will jointly call for a global partnership for a more efficient and effective humanitarian aid system at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. As a major donor and key policy-setter, the EU and its Member States will play a leading role at the Summit on 23-24 May, where over 50 world leaders and some 5,000 humanitarian, development and political stakeholders gather to shift from response to crisis towards effectively managing prevention and early action and supporting resilience and self-reliance. Worldwide, over 125 million men, women and children are in need of humanitarian assistance. Despite record contributions in recent years, donors cannot fully cover the growing humanitarian needs generated by today’s emergencies.
To ensure efficient and effective financing to address the US$15 billion funding gap, the “Grand Bargain” will be launched at the summit, a proposal made by the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (HLP) on Humanitarian Financing in its report “Too Important to Fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap”. European Commission Vice President and co-chair of the panel, Kristalina Georgieva, said: “Our goal over the next five years is to bring an additional billion dollars into the hands of people in dire need of live-saving help, by making efficiency savings on the backroom activities of donors and aid organisations. In the space of a few months, we have been able to negotiate a deal between major players in the humanitarian ecosystem – a deal addressing issues that have hindered and hampered life-saving work for years.”
To ensure that people in need receive rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance, an EU priority at the summit is promoting respect for International Humanitarian Law. Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, stated: “In conflicts and crisis zones around the world, attacks on civilians, doctors and medical facilities as well as on humanitarian aid workers have become endemic. By keeping International Humanitarian Law at the top of the agenda of the World Humanitarian Summit, we can make a real difference. Protecting civilians and aid workers and ensuring humanitarian access is not a choice. It is a human imperative.”
If humanitarian aid is necessary and live-saving for millions of victims of violent conflict and natural disasters, longer-term solutions are needed. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, underlines the importance of bridging the gap between humanitarian and development aid, another top priority at the summit: “Medium and long term assistance plays an essential part in supporting partner countries in rebuilding damaged infrastructure and helping people to get back to normality. By strengthening links between relief, rehabilitation and development, by increasing resilience and making our aid more efficient and effective we can better tackle the root causes of many recurrent crises instead of only dealing with their consequences.”
At the World Humanitarian Summit, the European Commission will be represented by Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources, Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
The EU has been actively involved in the two-year long preparations to the Summit from the outset. In the consultation process, during which over 23 000 stakeholders such as governments, businesses, aid organisations, civil society, affected communities and youth groups were consulted, the European Commission co-organized the regional consultation in Budapest (February 2015), contributed to OCHA-led studies and supported the work of the WHS Secretariat.
What is the World Humanitarian Summit?
The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) takes place on 23-24 May 2016, in Istanbul, in response to an unprecedented increase of people affected by conflict and natural disaster.
Unlike other international summits, WHS is a multi-stakeholder process. The European Commission has been actively involved in the preparations of the Summit from the outset, during which over 23 000 stakeholders such as governments, donors, businesses, aid organisations, civil society and representatives of affected populations were consulted.
What is the objective of WHS?
The Summit presents the global community with the opportunity to agree on effective ways of working together towards the common objective of saving lives and alleviating suffering. The WHS aims to adapt the current modus operandi to better serve people in need by:
* Re-committing to the humanitarian principles;
* Enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises;
* Share best practices, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.
Why is it important?
Over the past 25 years we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in humanitarian crises. Today, nearly 80 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflicts, natural disasters as well as social and economic fragility. The number of forcibly displaced men, women and children has reached 60 million, the highest since The Second World War. The humanitarian system is being challenged to do more for more people.
Given the scale of today’s crises and disasters, funding cannot keep up with the growing humanitarian needs, despite record contributions by donors. Against this background, the United Nations Secretary-General has called a World Humanitarian Summit.
What are the key priorities of the European Union?
The European Union supports the entirety of the core commitments put forward by the United Nations and has proposed 100 individual commitments to action, aiming to build and reinforce a global partnership to work together to better serve people in need. Investing in resilience, ensuring more efficient and effective financing, promoting respect of International Humanitarian Law and bridging the gap between humanitarian and development work are among the key priorities advanced by the EU.
The European Commission’s strategic vision for reshaping humanitarian action is laid out in the Communication “Towards the World Humanitarian Summit – A global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action”. The underlying message is to build and reinforce a global partnership working together to achieve the common objectives of saving lives, preventing and alleviating suffering and maintaining human dignity. The EU’s position ahead of the WHS was set out in the Council Conclusions of 12 May 2016.
What is the Grand Bargain?
The Grand Bargain is a proposal made by the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (HLP) on Humanitarian Financing in its report “Too Important to Fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap”. To address the US$15 billion funding gap, the panel identified three action areas: shrinking the needs, deepening the resource base and an efficiency pact called the Grand Bargain. Donors and aid organisations came together to negotiate changes in their working practices which the HLP estimates will deliver an extra billion dollars over five years for people in need of humanitarian aid. The launch of the Grand Bargain by the UN Secretary-General at the World Humanitarian Summit will be the first opportunity for more aid providers to show their support and agree to changes in working practices which include gearing up cash programming, greater funding for national and local responders and cutting bureaucracy through harmonised reporting requirements.
How can it be ensured that commitments made at the summit will translate into action?
The EU has been advocating for a concrete follow-up mechanism from the very beginning of the process. Such a mechanism would be needed to follow-up on the implementation of pledges at regular intervals and from all stakeholders at the Summit, be it governments, NGOs, the UN, the private sector or local actors.
The success of the WHS will depend on the timely implementation of all stakeholders’ commitments and an inclusive, accountable, transparent and efficient follow-up.
To enable the Summit to set the working agenda for beyond 2016, and to translate ideas into concrete action, commitments from the highest political level must be made.
What is the EU doing to address education needs in emergencies and protracted crises?
The European Union is strongly committed to supporting education in emergencies and protracted crises. This year, the EU has reached the global target of 4% of humanitarian funding earmarked for education. In addition more than 60% of funding for education in development cooperation is allocated to fragile and conflict affected countries. Education is also a priority in the EU’s response to the Syria crisis.
The new Platform “Education Cannot Wait”, supported by the EU, has strong potential to help address one of the biggest global challenges: to ensure that children affected by conflicts and disasters have safe access to quality education in a protected learning environment. The platform provides an opportunity to bring humanitarian and development actors closer together to respond more efficiently to the needs of children and young people affected by crisis, in particular girls and disabled children.
The European Commission has recently adopted a new policy framework on forced displacement and development which includes a strong focus on education, outlined in the Communication “Lives in Dignity: from Aid–dependence to Self-reliance”. The new approach will seek to strengthen the development-humanitarian cooperation, to gradually end dependence on humanitarian assistance in displacement situations by fostering self-reliance and enabling the displaced to live in dignity as contributors to their host societies.