The World Humanitarian Summit 2016



MAY 23-24 2016

Istanbul, Turkey

1.  What is the World Humanitarian Summit all about?

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit from May 23-24, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.

WHY: Right now, more than 125 million people around the world are in need of humanitarian assistance and roughly 60 million have been displaced from their homes, the highest level since World War II. Humanitarian needs have far outpaced resources, and it is clear more focus is needed on how to better help people in crisis.

The Summit has three main goals: 1. To re-inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles; 2. To initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks; 3. To share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “The World Humanitarian Summit is a singular opportunity to stand together and to deliver a message that we will not accept the erosion of humanity which we see in the world today.”  He has set out the ambition of the Summit in his “Agenda for Humanity”,  where he calls on global leaders to commit to five core responsibilities:

1.   Global leadership to prevent and end conflict.

2.   Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity: leaders must recommit to upholding the rules that protect humanity.

3.   Leave no one behind:  reach everyone and empower all women, men girls and boys to be agents of positive transformation.

4.   Change people’s lives- from delivering aid to ending need:  This will require three fundamental shifts in the way we work: Reinforce, don’t replace national system; Anticipate, don’t wait for crises; Transcend the humanitarian-development divide

5.   Invest in Humanity: requiring political, institutional and financial investment to reduce the funding gap for humanitarian needs.

2.  Who is attending- internationally and from Ireland?

The Summit will include participation from thousands of leaders from governments, businesses, aid organisations, civil society, and affected communities. From Ireland there will be delegates from Trócaire, Concern and GOAL, as well as UCD. Other Irish NGOs will be represented by their broader family organisations.

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins will address the Summit. It was announced in this press release. As Head of State, the President will lead the Irish delegation to the summit and address a High Level Leaders’ Round Table meeting focusing on how to improve the international community’s response to humanitarian crises. The President will also address meetings on Gender Equality, Gender Based Violence and Humanitarian Financing. The President’s interventions will seek to link issues of global poverty, sustainable development, climate change and humanitarian response.

3.    What is the focus of the Summit? And what will the outcomes be?

At the Summit, global leaders will discuss how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges, and how to be better prepared to meet challenges of the future. Some of the priority issues include:

  • A new global approach to manage forced displacement, with an emphasis on ensuring hope and dignity for refugees or internally displaced people, and support of host countries and communities.

  • Empowering women and girls, and catalysing action to gender equality.

  • Adapting new approaches to respond to protracted crises and recurrent disasters, reduce vulnerability, and manage risk, by bridging the divide between development and humanitarian partners.

  • Securing adequate and predictable finance to save lives and alleviate suffering.

  • Reinforcing the centrality of protection in humanitarian action and increasing respect for International Humanitarian Law.

  • Adapting to new challenges through local, inclusive, and context specific responses.

OUTCOMES: The Summit will result in three main documents:

1. The Chair’s Summary will reflect the main discussions and commitments

2. The Commitments to Action document will include the concrete set of actions and commitments in support of the Agenda for Humanity.

3. A report of the Secretary-General on the outcomes of and follow up to the Summit will also be prepared in accordance with General Assembly resolution 70/106. It will be presented before Member States at the 71st Session of the General Assembly.

4.    The Irish Context:

Where does Irish Aid stand when it comes to Humanitarian action?

Humanitarian Assistance Policy Infographic

In preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit there has been an Irish Consultative Process, running since September 2014.  See this link for a comprehensive outline of the process: The Dóchas Humanitarian Aid Working Group have been actively engaged throughout.

For a summary of the key RECOMMENDATIONS, as well as an outline of the challenges, go to:


·         The need to put disaster-affected people at the heart of humanitarian responses;

·         The need to reaffirm the commitment to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the humanitarian principles, particularly in conflict contexts;

·         The importance of localising preparedness and responses where politically and culturally appropriate;

·         The need to improve disaster risk reduction, community resilience and early warning.

The Process culminated in the first ever Irish Humanitarian Summit, held in Dublin in July 2015.  It brought together over 200 Irish humanitarian actors to discuss Ireland’s response to humanitarian crises. President Michael D Higgins opened the Summit, with keynote addresses from Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, and Minister for Development, Seán Sherlock.

5.    FINALLY - What can you do to get involved?

Here are some of the best ways to get connected to the World Humanitarian Summit: 

·         Visit the event website at

·         Share content from the World Humanitarian Summit on Facebook.

·         Follow @WHSummit on Twitter and contribute to the #ShareHumanity conversation.

Here are some great resources to give you a deeper dive into why the World Humanitarian Summit is important and the issues that will be discussed:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Agenda for Humanity for the World Humanitarian Summit: In this report “Too important to fail – addressing the humanitarian financing gap,” by the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing Report to the Secretary-General: This report provides recommendations from a high-level panel on how to better mobilize resources to address humanitarian needs.

Reaffirming our Commitment to Humanity: 5 Key Issues Ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit,” by Kaysie Brown, UN Foundation blog: Brown provides an overview of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity and key humanitarian issues that need to be addressed.

6 Reasons You Should Care About (Yet) Another International Summit,” by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Assistant Administrator.

The World Humanitarian Summit – What to expect’ – Devex blog by Elizabeth Dickinson