World Humanitarian Summit,
Opening Ceremony & Round Tables (AM & PM)

With Millions Displaced by Conflict, Climate Disasters, Leaders Meet To Shape Better Future at World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul

‘We are One Humanity with a Shared Responsibility,’ Secretary‑General Stresses

ISTANBUL, 23 May - The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit opened today in Istanbul with more than 65 Heads of State and Government, and numerous public- and private-sector stakeholders gathered for two days of high-level discussions on ways to rapidly advance global efforts to address the record numbers of people suffering from conflict, climate disasters and hunger.

“We are here to shape a different future,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.  “Today, we declare: We are one humanity with a shared responsibility.  Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

Providing a snapshot of current crises, he said hundreds had been killed in a recent earthquake in Ecuador, thousands more had been forced to flee bombings in Syria, millions faced hunger in Southern Africa and 130 million had been displaced by conflict and situations that had forced them to become refugees.  Over the next two days, he said, the people of the world were watching for commitments in five areas: conflict prevention, civilian protection, leaving no one behind, ending humanitarian need and investing in humanity.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, expressed hope that the Summit would lead to auspicious outcomes for the hundreds of millions of people struggling to sustain their lives under great distress.  Crises caused by war, natural hazards, epidemics and climate change threatened the common future of humanity.  “Pain knows no colour, race, language or religion,” he said.

Stressing that the core responsibilities of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity were important in that context, he urged the international community to ensure that current conflicts were ended and new ones prevented.

Throughout the Summit, high-level leaders’ round tables and special sessions would focus on a range of issues.  During a morning round table on Political Leadership to End and Prevent Conflict, world leaders stressed that from the borders of Syria to the shores of the Mediterranean, Governments were failing to turn promises into action.  To prevent conflict, they must be more effective at solving its root causes and understanding their economic, social and cultural factors.  Many committed to supporting the core responsibilities of the Agenda, with some reiterating respect for the non-use of force.  International cooperation was always a process of “give and take”.

Indeed, violent conflict had driven 80 per cent of humanitarian funding requests by the United Nations and its partners, Secretary-General Ban told participants, pressing them to show political will of a scale and scope not seen in recent years in order to save succeeding generations from “the scourge of war”.  Preventing and peacefully resolving conflict was the biggest difference the international community could make to reduce the overwhelming humanitarian need.  Violent conflict was the overriding reason why such requests had increased 600 per cent in the last 11 years to more than $20 billion today.

The ensuing discussion focused on moving from crisis management to prevention, with Heads of State and Government outlining commitments for more effectively tackling the root causes of the tensions tearing apart their countries.

During the day, leaders gathered at three additional round tables with discussions on “Changing People’s Lives — From Delivering Aid to Ending Need”; “Leaving No One Behind — A Commitment to Address Forced Displacement”; and “Humanitarian Financing — Investing in Humanity”.

The Summit’s opening ceremony began with a poem by Inna Modja, personal narratives by Victor Ochen, Victoria Arnaiz-Lanting and Adeeb Ateeq, and advocacy statements by Forrest Whitaker, Ashley Judd and Daniel Craig.

The World Humanitarian Summit will continue on Tuesday, 24 May, at 9 a.m.

Opening Ceremony

VICTOR OCHEN, recounting his personal journey, said that children living in refugee camps worried if they would ever wear clothes or sleep at night.  With no school and no one to protect them, children in conflict faced hopelessness.  “Violence is all around us”, he said.  That was the life he had lived growing up in northern Uganda.  His friends had turned to revenge and he had watched his society devolve into chaos.  He had been only 13 when he started to wonder whether that was the life he was supposed to live.  He had decided it was not and formed a peace club in his camp to discourage children and young people from joining the armed forces.

He had started to understand that “peace is not always popular” when he met a young man, abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. That man had been forced to abduct other people, including Mr. Ochen’s brother.  Struggling with what to do, he had decided to employ the young man, and he had been working with his brother’s abductor ever since.  “Peace comes from within,” he said, stressing that it was his wish that humanity would never again feel the pain of those caught up in conflict.  That was the only way to fight terrorism without triggering more humanitarian emergencies.  “Be human and act human,” he stressed.

FOREST WHITAKER, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, said he had worked with hundreds of young men and women like Victor whose worlds had been shattered by conflict, recounting his friendship with a young man in South Sudan who had been abducted in war, only to return home to help others to safety.  Indeed, 250,000 boys and girls were serving as soldiers, and millions more lived in communities rife with poverty and violence.  Among them, he saw artists, doctors, presidents and prime ministers, the next Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.  Inside each young person was a seed waiting to flourish into something extraordinary.  The international community must ensure that each one received a quality education and had a real economic opportunity to succeed.  “These are not luxuries,” he said, but rather necessities that every community required to survive and thrive.  “Together, let’s stand up for the most vulnerable amongst us.”

VICTORIA ARNAIZ-LANTING described her experience surviving Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, stressing:  “It is a miracle we survived.”  She had lost all her friends and colleagues in the storm.  Dead bodies had filled the streets.  Trees and electric posts had fallen to the ground like matchsticks.  There had been mass migration and thousands of internally displaced people who, driven by hunger and grief, had looted the supermarkets.  And yet, it was unbelievable how quickly people had started to rebuild their lives.  The Philippines Red Cross, victims themselves, had swiftly begun treating the wounded and liaising with the Government and other humanitarian actors.  “This is humanity in action,” she said, stressing that disasters affected more than 200 million people a year and that preparedness must become a way of life.  Every nation, large and small, should invest in local actors.

ASHLEY JUDD, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador, said gender inequality was a critical challenge.  Three quarters of those affected by climate disasters were women and girls, yet only 0.01 per cent of climate change funding was for gender-specific efforts.  Through her visits of communities in conflict-affected areas, she had met women who had suffered greatly, including girls who had been forced into marriage and sex-trafficking survivors.  In addition, she said she had also seen UNFPA projects that had allowed women to stand in dignity and wellness.  States had signed the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the need to focus on women was as clear and critical as ever before.

ADEEB ATEEQ, speaking of the Syrian conflict, said war had inflicted much suffering on the population.  Mines had blown apart people and shattered lives, with many being afraid to even seek medical care for fear of encountering unexploded ordnance.  “I have decided to harness my experience of demining to end the loss of life,” he said, describing a volunteer team he had established to educate young people about the lethal nature of unexploded landmines.  Children accounted for 40 per cent of landmine victims, he said.  Recalling his own experience in which he had lost a leg after encountering an unexploded device, he described how he had been bound to a wheelchair and then fitted with an artificial limb.  That experience had led him to try to help others.  “My goal is to save the lives of innocent civilians,” he said, calling on all to provide assistance in that quest and in safeguarding humanity.

DANIEL CRAIG, United Nations Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards, said landmines had continued to litter urban landscapes long after conflicts ended, with more than 20,000 people killed each year from those left-over weapons.  A trained demining effort was the way forward, and with help from people like Mr. Ateeq, cities could become cities again.  Indeed, Mr. Ateeq had not given up on humanity after he had encountered an unexploded device, but had dedicated his life to creating a safer world.  “This Summit is about the potential to start the biggest humanitarian movement in our history,” he said.  It was also about setting the foundation for sustainable peace, development and reconstruction and “investing in what binds us all together:  our common humanity”.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that since he had proposed the World Humanitarian Summit in 2012, the urgency had only grown, with a record 130 million people in need of aid to survive alongside growing funding shortfalls.  Parties to conflict brazenly violated the long-established rules of war and international humanitarian law.  Meanwhile, natural disasters struck with greater frequency and intensity.

“This is a twenty-first century United Nations gathering,” he said, highlighting that the Summit and the Agenda for Humanity were based on three years of consultations with 23,000 people in more than 150 countries.  Over the next two days, the people of the world were watching for commitments in five areas: conflict prevention, civilian protection, leaving no one behind, ending humanitarian need and investing in humanity.

More must be done to prevent conflicts, which absorbed more than 80 per cent of humanitarian funding, through greater political will, leadership and perseverance, he said.  Likewise, it was time to uphold and enforce international humanitarian and human rights law to strengthen civilian protection.

Leaving no one behind meant fulfilling the promise of the 2030 Agenda, he said, urging all States to commit to halving the number of internally displaced persons by that year and finding better long-term solutions for them and refugees.  To end humanitarian need, development and humanitarian organizations would need to work more closely, based on shared priorities and collective outcomes to meet the long-term needs of millions of people in crisis.  Investing in humanity meant providing more direct funding to local people and communities, fixing the persistent funding gap and investing in building stable and inclusive societies.

Providing a snapshot of global hot spots, he said hundreds had been killed in a recent earthquake in Ecuador, thousands more had been forced to flee bombings in Syria and millions faced hunger in Southern Africa.  “Lives changed forever,” he said.  “A generation of young people feels that we have lost our way, that human lives do not seem to matter, that the world values money, fame and the power of brute force over justice, hope and protection for the most vulnerable,” he added.

“We are here to shape a different future,” he said.  “Today, we declare:  We are one humanity with a shared responsibility.  Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, expressed hope that the Summit would lead to auspicious outcomes for the hundreds of millions of people struggling to sustain their lives under great distress.  Crises caused by war, natural hazards, epidemics and climate change threatened the common future of humanity.  “Pain knows no colour, race, language or religion,” he said.  It was with that in mind that Turkey carried out its aid and development projects in more than 140 countries, hosting more than 3 million refugees from Syria and Iraq.  As long as threats in those countries continued, “we will never close our doors or our borders to people”, he said.  In 2014, Turkey’s humanitarian and development aid had reached $6.1 billion and had increased each year.

Turkey, he said, had experienced all aspects of the global humanitarian aid system, including its shortcomings, with burden shouldered only by certain countries.  “Everybody should assume responsibilities,” he said, urging a review of the aid system, with an approach that placed the human being at the centre.  If a system could not deliver a couple of dollars-worth of anti-malaria nets and remained a “bystander” to the loss of tens of thousands of children, then indeed there was a problem.  “We as leaders and responsible individuals of the international community can only succeed if we work under common principles and goals,” he stated.

Stressing that the core responsibilities of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity were important in that context, he urged the international community to ensure that current conflicts were ended and new ones prevented.  For its part, Turkey continued its mediation efforts.  Furthermore, the international community must step up efforts to end violations of international law, as had been seen in Syria.  Turkey would not stop pursuing blood-shedding dictators and ensure that crimes against humanity did not go unpunished.  More assistance was needed for displaced persons and others in need.  To reduce dependence, there had to be an overhaul of the way aid was carried out to ensure that each nation could stand on its own.  With the Turkish Red Crescent and others, his Government offered a different model of collaboration in its humanitarian and development activities.  More broadly, he stressed that resources had not increased at the same pace as global need.  In terms of aid financing, he had seen a tendency to avoid responsibility.  The country bitterly experienced that weakness.  While the amount spent for refugees had exceeded $10 billion, the rest of the international community had contributed $455 million.  He hoped the Summit would serve as a turning point in that regard and looked forward to commitments that would arise in the coming days.

Round Table I

Violent conflict had driven 80 per cent of humanitarian funding requests by the United Nations and its partners, Secretary-General BAN told world leaders this morning during a high-level leaders’ round table on “Political Leadership to End and Prevent Conflict”, pressing them to show political will of a scale and scope not seen in recent years in order to save succeeding generations from “the scourge of war”.

Co-chaired by Mr. Erdoğan, President of Turkey; Joseph Boakai, Vice-President of Liberia; Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; and Habib Essid, Prime Minister of Tunisia, the discussion focused on moving from crisis management to prevention, with Heads of State and Government outlining commitments for more effectively tackling the root causes of the tensions tearing apart their countries.

Mr. BAN, opening the discussion, said that preventing and peacefully resolving conflict was the biggest difference the international community could make to reduce the overwhelming humanitarian need.  Violent conflict was the overriding reason why such requests had increased 600 per cent in the last 11 years to more than $20 billion today.

“The world needs you to act,” he said, calling on leaders to immediately address the first signs of crisis and sustain engagement for as long as it took to find a collective solution. To build peace, increased investment in fragile countries was needed and he urged leaders to make ambitious commitments on all those issues.

For its part, he said, the United Nations would improve its analysis of risk factors by reviewing the capacities of its agencies, funds and programmes to enable an integrated approach to the root causes of conflict.  It would also increase support for national and local systems of conflict prevention and resolution.  He called on participants to make today a turning point in reversing the proliferation of violent conflicts around the world.

Mr. ERDOĞAN said the meeting was the most important on today’s agenda, as conflict prevention was both the founding reason for the United Nations and also its biggest failure, caused mainly by veto use in the Security Council.  Civilians shouldered the biggest burden of that situation and he urged leaders to apply policies that remedied poverty, a lack of infrastructure, natural hazards and terrorism in that context.

Expressing support for the five commitments of the Agenda for Humanity, he underscored the need to be determined, rapid, transparent and accountable in addressing conflict through immediate interventions.  “We need a Security Council with all those qualities now,” he said, stressing that the fate of humanity could not be left to only five countries.  “This is not acceptable and it is not just,” he said.  Council reform must reflect regional and cultural scenarios.

Noting that Turkey had guaranteed financial support for conflict prevention until 2020, he said some of that aid had not been properly used.  He urged participants to ensure that promises made today were converted into solid steps towards solutions.  He encouraged leaders there that day to shoulder the necessary responsibility and decisiveness for those reasons.

Ms. MERKEL said that early warning, prevention, stabilization and peace consolidation must be part of a tool box of measures to prevent crises, with burdens shared fairly at the international level.  Peace was a precondition for sustainable development, making crisis prevention of decisive importance.  It was also vital to be in a position to respond to crisis.  “There will always be people in need,” she said, urging better integration of response options and efforts to stabilize a region.  Mediation must be complemented by efforts to promote economic development, education, professional opportunities and infrastructure.

For world leaders, that meant harmonizing efforts for access to aid and conflict mediation, she said, urging a focus on demanding good governance from parties involved.  They must also better involve civil society, especially women, who could use resources for the benefit of their families, and if countries in the region were to offer ideas, that would enable better solutions.

Mr. ESSID said Tunisia had established a pluralistic and democratic society, having halted social tensions at a time when its political transition could have escalated into conflict.  Its experience had shown that any transition must allow every person to express a voice.  “A minority cannot impose its views on the majority,” he said, noting that Tunisia’s consensus-based model and tripartite dialogue had strengthened the social fabric without marginalizing any community.  It was ready to share its experience through United Nations training for young people and civil society.  Going forward, Tunisia continued to need support to stabilize and meet the expectations of justice and democracy.

Mr. BOAKAI said Liberia’s efforts to resolve its civil war had shown its indomitable spirit.  Civil, regional and sectarian violence was to blame for people’s hopelessness.  Noting that most humanitarian crises on the African continent were conflict induced, he urged States to focus on poverty alleviation, creating an environment for education and promoting the rule of law.  Conflict must be promptly managed and diffused.  Liberia was committed to supporting the Secretary-General’s cause, he said, noting that it had established a centre for coordination for response:  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) early warning system.

XANANA GUSMÃO, Eminent Person of the Advisory Council of the Group of Seven Plus (g7+), said that the forum was committed to the five principles outlined in the Agenda for Humanity, as there had been a disintegration of relations and increase in radical positions.  The needs of the most marginalized had been upset by the will of large powers, with veto use and double standards by some States creating confrontations between religions and subversion of ethnicities.  Dialogue based on equal respect for all was needed.  Reconciliation and tolerance were prerequisites for peace.  Democracy should not be imposed.  Today’s world was in a moral crisis, as diplomats did not understand that their declarations only created more distrust.

WIDED BOUCHAMAOUI, President of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, and Representative of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, said expectations had been so high in 2011 that “we felt everything was possible”.  However, transforming the system had proven to be more complicated.  The only way was to achieve a consensus-building dialogue and deploy all efforts to bring leaders to the table.  The experience had shown that the future was no more in the hands of the Government than civil society and business communities.  “We are proof that combining forces and accepting differences can be successful,” she said.  “We are here to find solutions together,” she said.

In the ensuing discussion, world leaders stressed that from the borders of Syria to the shores of the Mediterranean, Governments had failed to turn promises into action.  To prevent conflict, they needed to be more effective at solving the root causes of conflict and understanding their economic, social and cultural factors, which included religious and ethnic discrimination.  Many committed to supporting the core responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity, with some reiterating respect for the non-use of force.

BAKIR IZETBEGOVIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, noting that international cooperation was always a process of give and take, urged better use of mediation, including through Articles 99 and 44 of the United Nations Charter.

JUHA SIPILÄ, Prime Minister of Finland, broadly agreed with Mr. Izetbegović, saying: “We believe in mediation as a cost-effective way to resolve crises in a sustainable way.”  There needed to an improved normative basis for such efforts, and he noted that Finland would increase its financial support for partnerships in the creation of action plans for countries and regional organizations.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEÏTA, President of Mali, said his Government was working to solve the multifaceted crisis in the country, and after eight months, had drafted a peace agreement that was now being implemented.  Mali would uphold its commitment to that accord.  “We are committed to our secular society,” he said, noting that there were forces working against peace.  Together with Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, Mali was sharing military and intelligence information to combat terrorism.

PIETRO PAROLIN, Secretary of State of the Holy See, stressed the urgent need to end armed conflicts in a way that respected the common ethical principles that formed the bedrock of all humanitarian actions.  He encouraged investment in development, noting that the Holy See was committed to working alongside Governments, civil society and others to promote conflict prevention and fuller respect for human dignity, built on dynamic interreligious dialogue.

Other speakers pointed out that war was not the only cause of displacement.

BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, was among several speakers that pointed out that war was not the only cause of displacement.  Climate change, he said, could be as devastating as any bomb, and he questioned whether the world would be able to help millions of people when coastal areas were inundated.  “We are simply not prepared,” he said, calling for a United Nations Special Representative on climate who would help manage that risk, especially in facilitating regional cooperation.

Also speaking in the discussion were Heads of State and other senior officials of Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Somalia, Ukraine, Switzerland, Norway, France, Sweden, Russian Federation and Qatar, as well as the European Commission.

Round Table II

Strong partnerships, private-sector involvement, stepping up preparedness and supporting faster and sustainable post-crisis outcomes were essential to making a deep impact on those who needed help the most, speakers said at the high-level leaders’ round table on “Changing People’s Lives:  From Delivering Aid to Ending Need”.  The discussion was co-chaired by Mr. Keïta, President of Mali, and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and moderated by Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.

Mr. ELIASSON, opening the round table, said that because no one could solve problems in isolation, the most important word in today’s world was “together”.  “This Summit must mark the beginning of a new approach.  Humanitarian crises will never be truly reduced until we strengthen core development work such as basic infrastructure,” he stressed.

Mr. RUTTE, pointing out that humanitarian aid could not succeed unless root causes of crises were examined, said that there was work to be done.

Mr. KEÏTA said commitments should be made to a new way of working that best served people’s needs.  To that end, tangible measures had to be taken in four areas:  rapid intervention; supporting leaders at local, national and regional levels in capacity-building and intervention systems; preserving and maintaining the response capacity; and taking a collective approach that adhered to coherent financing.

Heads of State and other high-level Government officials weighed in, citing concerns from both donor and recipient States and raising questions about how best to improve the delivery of aid and tackle the root causes of pressing crises.

MICHAEL D. HIGGINS, President of Ireland, said coherent and collaborative efforts were needed at the national and international level.  He asked how to best address the pending humanitarian crises, emphasizing the notion of closely examining the development model to determine failures and ways to improve on existing efforts.

Some leaders of countries that faced a range of challenges shared that view.

ABDIRAHMAN YUSUF ALI AYNTE, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of Somalia, said development partners must take more risk in ending need, because traditional ways of addressing it had yielded scant results.  “We must invest in and capitalize on the innate capacities of those most in need of assistance,” he said, emphasizing that a new way of working must be crafted to successfully address pressing problems.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, said that despite the best efforts national challenges were testing the resilience of communities.  While his country was grateful for international humanitarian development aid, funding had been fragmented and focused on short-term quick fixes to the detriment of longer-term gains.

Some speakers offered suggestions on how to improve such efforts.

MEVLÜT ÇAVUŞOĞLU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, echoing a common view, said: “We need to share the burden and it is our utmost duty to do so.”  With regard to the Syrian conflict, States must collectively provide assistance and aid, he said, underlining that it was the world’s humanitarian responsibility to react effectively.

ERASTUS MWENCHA, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, said that national and global development actors must work together in linking relief to development and giving practical expression to enhancing resilience of communities to build coping mechanisms to withstand the vagaries of hazards.  Empowering local actors for short- and long-term interventions was also essential.

DEGAN ALI, Chair of the Leadership Council of the Network for Empowered Aid Response, a non-governmental organization, shared the view that partnerships could produce fruitful results.  In that regard, she looked forward to a response that would put local organizations in a leadership role to drive response efforts.

NEVEN MIMICA, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union, focusing on shared regional approaches, said that capacities to deal with crises must be built at the national level.  The Union had put forward commitments, among them strengthening national and local capacity to address crises by 2020.  Another commitment was to promoting joint analysis on food and nutrition security, he said, announcing a joint effort with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to do so.  Furthermore, the Union would be contributing €539 million for countries affected by El Niño.  Finally, noting that the gap between needs and funding was too wide, he said that aid must be made more effective and the root causes must be tackled.

A number of aid agencies shared their perspectives.

GAYLE E. SMITH, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said that development investments should come from multiple sources of capital and systems of crisis-response assistance should be modernized.  Development programmes must also be adapted to crises situations.  Efforts such as disaster risk reduction should be bolstered to better prepare stakeholders to sustain responses over time, she said, expressing hope that discussions would lead to concrete actions in that regard.

PAVEL BĚLOBRÁDEK, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, was among several speakers who said that innovative approaches and private-sector capacities should be incorporated in development and crisis mitigation efforts.  Some existing initiatives provided examples of how such engagement had been translated on the ground.

HANS-PETER TEUFERS, Director of the International Humanitarian Supply Chain at United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation, said his corporation was well placed to help communities respond to crises, given its network of communications.  The Foundation had thus strengthened partnerships with agencies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to foster emergency preparedness and with local businesses to bolster resilience.  Sharing several ongoing projects, he said the first-ever drone network was now delivering vital blood supplies to remote areas in Rwanda.

Also delivering statements during the round table were ministers, high-level Government officials and representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark, Viet Nam and Guatemala, as well as representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), African Risk Capacity, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Investment Bank, World Bank Group, Metta Development Forum, World Vision International, InterAction, Act Alliance and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Acting as supporting moderators were Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Stephen O’Brien, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Round Table III

With 60 million people displaced around the world — 90 per cent of them hosted by developing nations — there was a need to address the pressures forcing them to flee and, once gone, offer them support in their transition to a safe, dignified life, senior officials from Government, civil society and international financial institutions stressed today in a high-level leaders’ round table titled “Leaving No One Behind — A commitment to Address Forced Displacement”.

Mr. ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General, moderating the discussion, advocated measures to bolster the resilience of refugees and host societies alike.  Co-chaired by Tammam Salam, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon; Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda; and Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, the dialogue focused on solutions.

Mr. SALAM, with that in mind, said there were two groups of victims — displaced persons and refugees on the one hand and host communities on the other.  Leaving no one behind hinged on the survival of the State.  “If the State does not survive, everyone will be left behind,” he warned.  Syrians comprised one third of Lebanon’s population, which was leading to the collapse of his country.  Lebanon was under substantial strain to deal with the economic consequences of the Syrian conflict, he said, expressing grave concern at conditions in many host communities.

The success of Lebanon’s five-year programme, which focused on education and economic opportunities, hinged on the international support it received.  Safe return should be among the priorities in the commitment for durable solutions, as assistance alone was not the solution.  The answer lay in development aid flows that triggered jobs and Lebanon’s model was one to be adopted.  His Government would never consent to any insertion or naturalization of Syrians, underscoring the need to respect international law and the ideals of democracy.

Mr. RUGUNDA said that first and foremost, displaced persons and refugees must be treated as human beings, a lesson Uganda had learned first-hand when many of its citizens had found themselves seeking refuge in neighbouring States and beyond.  “Those we leave behind always find a way of pulling us back,” he said, “regardless of where we are.”  From the late 1980s to mid-2000s, more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons had fled the Lord’s Resistance Army, while the country had hosted 450,000 refugees.

Today, he said, the country was home to more than 500,000 refugees and faced further challenges hosting those fleeing landslides, storm and drought.  In response, it had established a “ministry of response” for refugees and internally displaced persons, and adopted both a policy and a law for their management — instruments that had been mainstreamed into national development plans and received an annual budget allocation.  At the regional level, Uganda had championed the process that had led to the 2012 Kampala Convention, which outlined respect the dignity of displaced persons.

Ms. GREENING, rounding out the discussion, advocated a radical shift in addressing displacement.  “We are running out of time to get this right,” she said, noting that with the right opportunities, displaced persons would contribute to host economies.  Approaches were needed to meet the needs of host communities and refugee and displaced populations alike.  At the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference in London earlier in the year, the world had made historic agreements with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, an approach that should be brought to other protracted crises.

For its part, the United Kingdom would provide multi-year funding, she said, work to reform development banks, and — with UNICEF — invest in the “Education Cannot Wait” platform to coordinate efforts in the most difficult situations.  “If we don’t help other nations solve their problems today, they become everyone’s tomorrow,” she said.  The global displacement crisis was a shared challenge that must be met.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers agreed that the global migrant crisis epitomized the need to better address poverty and security, with many describing efforts at national, regional and international levels to help those in need.  An approach in which all States “pulled their weight” was required, as were more effective measures to protect those fleeing conflict, climate change and poverty.

YALÇIN AKDOĞAN, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, noting that his Government oversaw three camps in northern Iraq, said international aid was scarce.  In combatting terrorism, “we need more solidarity”, he said, stressing that children were dying in the Middle East, Africa and in the Mediterranean.  Turkey was working to keep them alive.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, said wars in Syria and Iraq, and the political situation in Afghanistan had forced waves of people from their homes, placing enormous pressures on Europe.  Cooperation on migration must be integrated into foreign and economic policies at the national, regional and global levels and support provided for origin and transit countries.  Results had been poor, especially in European countries that had not taken in migrants.  He advocated a re-admission agreement with origin and transit countries as a way to discourage illegal migration.

CHRISTOS STYLIANIDES, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management of the European Union, said that between 2015 and 2016, the Union had committed €10 billion to the refugee crisis.  The potential of refugees and displaced persons should be harnessed by offering access to employment and basic services.  He confirmed the bloc’s commitments to ensure early engagement with political, humanitarian and development actors from the outset; include forcibly displaced persons in programming of assistance intervention; enhance the evidence base of forced displacement; engage other Governments; and support access to quality education in crisis environments.

SUFIAN AHMED BEKER, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, said his country was among the world’s largest hosts of refugees, with around 750,000 people.  It would continue to advocate voluntary repatriation, resettlement or local reintegration with voluntary repatriation as an option.  A sustainable voluntary repatriation process required humanitarian assistance, which in turn, required collaboration with humanitarian and development actors in places of origin.

IMAD FAKHOURY, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, said 2.8 million people in his country were registered with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Of those, 650,000 had entered as Syrian refugees since 2011.  A similar number of Syrian refugees were unregistered, bringing the total to 1.3 million people — the equivalent of 64 million entering the United States or 16 million entering Turkey.  It was important to recognize the proportion of refugees to the income of a country, and ensure fair and equitable burden-sharing.  “The Syria crisis is a global one,” he said.

HAFEZ CHANEM, Vice-President, Middle East and North Africa of the World Bank, said that, to help ease those concerns, tackling forced displacement was a priority.  The financial institution’s Middle East and North Africa financing facility — a joint initiative with the United Nations and Islamic Development Bank — had received $1 billion from donors the previous month.  Those funds would help it increase concessionality for $4 billion-worth of loans to Lebanon and Jordan, with priorities in education and job creation.

PETER MAURER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), noted that “the less we help in conflict zones, the more people will move” and that “sticking people in camps” was not a solution.  They had to be given the opportunity to lead normal lives.  States must make resources available, in line with the existing dramatic needs, especially for education.

Ms. SMITH, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, added that her country would host a leaders summit on refugees from a belief that, without systemic changes at scale, States would be unable to meet today’s challenges.  The United States would look for funding to be increased by 30 per cent and a doubling of global refugees afforded third-country settlement.

Also speaking in the discussion were Heads of State and Government, ministers and high-level Government officials of Georgia, Kenya, Malta, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Philippines and Somalia, as well as representatives of the Holy See, Fondacion Cristobal and Western Union.

Round Table IV

Galvanizing the political will to unlock the sliver of current military expenditures required to tackle current crises was a solvable problem, speakers said at the high-level leaders’ round table on “Humanitarian Financing — Investing in Humanity”.  The discussion was co-chaired by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia, Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, and moderated by Secretary-General Ban.

Mr. BAN, opening the discussion, said that narrowing the growing gap between aid and people’s needs was possible, particularly since estimates had put the total sum requested for humanitarian assistance at about 1 per cent of global military spending.  “The failure lies with us,” he said, “the leaders, the decision makers, the professionals.  It lies with our priorities, our accounting and our funding systems.”

Elaborating on the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing that had been established in 2015, he said its report was a “clarion call” for change.  The Panel had found that great improvements were needed in mobilizing, allocating and using resources.  The Grand Bargain was another result, he said, announcing that the launch of that new plan would take place later in the day, with a targeted aim of improving aid financing and bridging existing funding gaps.

Many speakers recognized the shortfalls facing the current realities of aid financing and sagging funding levels, with some underlining that shared concerns required equally shared responses.  Yet, funding gaps blatantly existed, some speakers said.

Mr. HIGGINS, President of Ireland, pointed out that only a small portion of funding required to help Syrian refugees had been received.  A sharper focus was needed to ensure a deeper understanding that countries in crisis had also been saddled, in the past, with a yoke of debt, restrictive trade rules and other obstacles to their economic development.  For instance, he wondered if it was fair to ask countries that had been stricken with the Ebola crisis to continue on their debt payments at a time when they were struggling to rebuild their health systems.  “We are challenged morally,” he said, “and we are asked to keep our minds open so we are not condemned to the failures of models of the past.”

While many speakers expressed support for the Grand Bargain, some voiced concerns about the current situation.

FRANCESCO ROCCA, Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), speaking on behalf of 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and 17 million volunteers, said: “More resources are sorely needed, but more resources will not solve the problem.”  Strengthening local and national capacity would have an impact, with local organizations standing in the right place to affect real, rapid responses.  Yet, scant resources had been channelled through those key local actors or invested in their long-term capacities.  That also held true for affected States, particularly those vulnerable to outbreaks, natural hazards or climate change consequences.

Private-sector partners presented their concerns, offering some recommendations for moving forward.

WALT MACNEE, Vice-President of Mastercard International, noting that business “can’t succeed in a failing world”, added that a collective approach should support accelerating innovation, which in turn could contribute to the narrowing of the humanitarian aid gap.

Many speakers agreed that the Grand Bargain was a worthy pursuit, given that wars and conflicts were forcing many to leave their homes and the current refugee crisis needed a collective, effective response.  To demonstrate support for that notion, high-level Government officials, including from Belgium and Canada, pledged new funding and initiatives that targeted ongoing crises.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said his Government would provide additional funds to humanitarian efforts and urged others to contribute generously and join in the quest for innovative financing measures.

NAZRIN SHAH, Ruler of Perak, Malaysia, in the same vein, said such innovative financial tools existed through Islamic social financing mechanisms.  Outlining the special session on “Islamic Social Finance” to be held later in the day, he said discussions would include a focus on ongoing work to inaugurate the first-ever sukuk and social impact bond programme for humanitarian action.

ROBERT FILIPP, President of the Innovative Finance Foundation, said projects included working in partnership with UNICEF in Guinea, Mali and Niger to fight malnutrition, with financing coming from a micro-levy on natural resources such as bauxite, gold, oil and uranium in Africa.

Heads of Government of Côte d’Ivoire and Luxembourg, also spoke during the round table, as did ministers, high-level Government officials and representatives of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Panama, as well as representatives of the World Economic Forum, Civicus, International Rescue Committee, Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, World Vision International, European Investment Bank, OECD, International Council of Voluntary Agencies, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Acting as the supporting moderator was Mr. O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

For information media. Not an official record.