The World Humanitarian Summit: Outcomes and Reflections

Release Date: 
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) convened 9,000 representatives from humanitarian agencies, governments, crisis-affected communities, and the private sector. Driven by a consensus that the current humanitarian system is unable to cope with the intensifying needs of populations affected by conflict and disaster, the WHS aimed to take stock of the achievements and failed interventions of a sector confronted with rapidly evolving challenges and recommit stakeholders to the foundational principles of humanitarian assistance, protection, and institutional reform.

The WHS was guided by a framework of collective responsibility articulated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that called for preventing and ending conflict; upholding international humanitarian law; pursuing development priorities; and enhancing community resilience, inter-agency coordination, and delivery of aid. Yet, the process was beset with criticisms from various actors—notably Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expressing disappointment about shortcomings in terms of addressing systematic attacks on civilians and humanitarian personnel, impeded humanitarian access, and inadequate assistance and protection for refugees and migrants.

With the WHS now concluded, this podcast will critically reflect on the commitments and outcomes of the Summit. Key experts and practitioners will explore whether the international humanitarian system indeed faces a “crisis of legitimacy,” as some critics have alleged, and what priorities and initiatives have emerged from the WHS that may transform the sector.

Key questions to be addressed will include:

  • What are the key outcomes of the WHS, and what remains unsettled? What will this mean for the humanitarian sector moving forward?
  • Are the commitments made in Istanbul realistic to uphold? How can states, humanitarian organizations, and other relevant stakeholders be held accountable?
  • What is needed to rebuild trust and restore legitimacy in the humanitarian system? What are the barriers to change?
  • As the nature of contemporary conflicts and emergencies changes, what would a new humanitarian system look like? Who are the key agents of change in this vision?

Featuring Expert Commentary From:

Christina Bennett
Twitter: @cr_bennett
Hugo Slim
Head of Policy, ICRC
Twitter:  @HSlimICRC
Dr. Martin Barber
Special Advisor to OCHA on the World Humanitarian Summit
Twitter: @UNOCHA
Raphael Gorgeu
Director of Partnership and Policy, ICVA
Twitter: @ICVAnetwork
James Munn
Head of Policy, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Twitter: @JEMunn



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