What was the EU doing at the World Humanitarian Summit?

External Relations
On 23-24 May 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit launched in Istanbul a two-year process that was announced under UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon in 2012 to engage discussions between stakeholders in revitalising international humanitarian efforts with strong support by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Development.

Over 50 international leaders and 5000 development, humanitarian and political stakeholders gathered in Istanbul on 23-24 May to participate in the World Humitarian Summit, aimed at relaunch humanitarian efforts. Before engaging in discussions,over 23,000 aid organisations, businesses, civil societies, communities, governments and youth groups participants were consulted.

The EU has actively participated in the Summit, becoming one of the only donors of the 2016 global target to reach four percent of humanitarian funding for education.

Active involvement from the Commission preceded the Summit in the preparatory European consultation in Budapest on 3-4 February 2015.

Key components of the Summit covered the prioritisation of crises prevention, efficient financing investments, responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law, and closing the chasm between development and humanitarian efforts.

In hopes of closing the funding gap in humanitarian action, the “Grand Bargain” of approximately US$15 billion from the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel (HLP) on Humanitarian Financing was presented at the Summit.

EU strategies for reshaping humanitarian action ahead of the conference

The EU’s policy paper for the Summit, “Towards the World Humanitarian Summit: A global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action,” identified the strategies of the EU “for reshaping humanitarian action ahead of the conference.”

Two general priorities were presented with seven actions.

Priority I, the Principled humanitarian action, called for:
  1. Reaffirming humanitarian values,
  2. Ensuring access to assistance and
  3. Putting protection at the heart of response.
Priority II, the Effective humanitarian action, called for:
  1. Consensus on the basics of humanitarian effectiveness,
  2. Subsidiarity and solidarity,
  3. Efficient and sufficient funding and
  4. Partnership with the development community.

What commitments did the Council of Europe take at the Summit?

On 23 May 2016, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland delivered the commitment of the Council of Europe at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Titled as “Leaving No One Behind – Commitment to Address Forced Displacement”, the text addresses in seven points the need for a “Global Compact” concerning the responsibility of member states towards refugees, asylum seekers and collective support.

His commitment included the compliance of the Council of Europe legislation controlling the entry flow of migrants and asylum seekers with the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

The call was made for a “pan-European Action Plan” among the 47 member States to help eradicate placing children in immigration detention facilities and assuming a “gender-sensitive approach” towards refugee and asylum-seeking children.

More protection will be pushed for to ratify the Council of Europe Convention to safeguard children from sexual abuse and exploitation, human trafficking between member States, and preventing domestic violence and violence against women.

The Secretary General recalled the Migrant and Refugee Fund by the Council of Europe Development Bank for appropriate refugee and asylum-seeker accommodation, while also committing to Member States to establish integration measures.

Time for the EU to roll up the sleeves and transform the Summit commitments into concrete action

In the “Joint Statement on the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit” Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management released the following:

At this critical juncture, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit has brought together the international community to seek ways to prevent and end crises as well as to strengthen and reshape the way aid is delivered.

We welcome the political communiqué endorsed on this occasion. The European Union pledged individual commitments at the summit concerning policies, programmes and funds it is responsible for and is committed to strong progress on each of the five core responsibility areas, for which core commitments have been formulated by the UN.

The World Humanitarian Summit has come to an end today, but our work towards a new global partnership linking political action to prevent crises, development assistance and more effective and principled humanitarian aid has only just begun. The challenges we are facing are complex, and there is no simple solution.”

“This is the moment to roll up our sleeves and transform the Summit commitments into concrete action. The European Union, as the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, will play its full part in reshaping aid to better serve people in need and calls on all world leaders to do the same.

Joanna Hong

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