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Secretary-General, at World Humanitarian Summit, Stresses Need to Strengthen Protection of Civilians, ‘Who Are under Attack as Never Before’

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at the World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul today:

Welcome to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit.  I thank the Government of Turkey, as well as everyone involved in bringing us together today:  Member States, people affected by crisis, development and humanitarian agencies, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), the private sector, academia and many more.  We are all here because global humanitarian action is unprecedentedly strained.

I proposed this Summit four years ago out of concern for rising humanitarian needs and declining political will.  Today, the urgency has only grown.  A record number of people — 130 million — need aid to survive.  More people have been forced from their homes than at any time since the end of the Second World War.  Every year, the needs rise and the funding shortfalls grow.  Parties to conflict brazenly violate the long-established rules of war and international humanitarian law.  Meanwhile natural disasters are striking more often, increasing in intensity, and doing more damage.

This is a twenty-first century United Nations gathering.  The Summit and the Agenda for Humanity are based on three years of consultations with 23,000 people in more than 150 countries.  We created the World Humanitarian Summit in this unique and inclusive format because of the important role that people affected by crisis, civil society, NGOs and others play in humanitarian action.

Over the next two days, the people of the world are looking to us for commitments in five areas.

First, conflict prevention and resolution; we must do more to prevent the conflicts that take up more than 80 per cent of humanitarian funding.  This requires greater political will, leadership and perseverance.

Second, strengthening the protection of civilians, who are under attack as never before; it is time to uphold and enforce international humanitarian and human rights law.

Third, leaving no one behind; this is the basis of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  I urge you to commit to halving the number of internally displaced people by 2030, and to find better long-term solutions for refugees and displaced people, based on more equal sharing of responsibilities.

Fourth, ending humanitarian need; I call on development and humanitarian organizations to work more closely together, based on shared priorities and collective outcomes, to meet the long-term needs of millions of people in crisis.

Finally, but not least, we must invest in humanity.  We need to provide more direct funding to local people and communities, fix the persistent humanitarian funding gap, and invest in building stable and inclusive societies.

In recent weeks, hundreds of people were killed in the Ecuador earthquake, thousands more civilians were forced to flee bombs and rockets in Syria, and millions of people face hunger in Southern Africa.  Lives changed forever.  Loved ones lost.  Futures destroyed in seconds — or painfully drawn out, as disease spreads or crops fail.

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.

We are here to shape a different future.  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 life in dignity.

Thank you.  Merci beaucoup.

For information media. Not an official record.