The World Humanitarian Summit: priorities for reform Contents


In May 2016, Istanbul will host the World Humanitarian Summit, the first event of its kind, which will aim to trigger much needed reforms in the global humanitarian system. The International Development Committee has identified 6 key priorities for reform that should be at the core of the Department for International Development’s (DFID), and the wider UK Government’s, approach to the Summit. These areas are:

(1)Upholding international humanitarian law (IHL): Beginning a process of universal political action to address violations of IHL.

(2)A better understanding of resilience: Fostering a universal and clearly-defined approach to building resilience, clarifying how this should be implemented by partners and promoting the sharing of best practice.

(3)Making the system truly global: Increasing the involvement of local actors and ensuring an inclusive system that recognises the needs of the most vulnerable and gives voice to those affected by crises.

(4)Institutional and funding reforms: Separating powers between those assessing humanitarian needs and those appealing for funding, and developing innovative financing approaches to better manage risk and achieve better cohesion between humanitarian and development assistance.

(5)Greater emphasis on preventing and resolving crises: Encouraging a more proactive approach to preparing for disasters before they occur and employing all available tools to prevent and end conflicts including: collective efforts to work on joint early warning systems and a global commitment to act upon them; and comprehensive, collaborative analysis to monitor political risks in fragile states.

(6)Addressing unintended consequences of counter-terrorism legislation (CTL) and humanitarian responses: Ensuring action is taken to explore reasonable exceptions in counter-terrorism law for humanitarian activities as exist in jurisdictions such as Australia.

Concrete proposals to deliver on these points should be at the core of the Commitments to Action—the Summit outcome document that will set out the actions and commitments emerging from the Summit. The six points listed here cover systemic issues in current responses to humanitarian crises, though we also stress the need for commitments to key sectors. Crises have become increasingly protracted in recent decades, and the long term interruption of children’s education cannot be allowed to continue. In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.1, the Summit must aim to deliver on commitments to education for all children in crises—a goal that DFID has a key role to play in securing.

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6 May 2016