70th Session of the UN General Assembly High Level Side Event on the World Humanitarian Summit: A Forward Looking Agenda

Published Date: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Speaker: 
William Lacy Swing, Director General

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Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to begin by thanking the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and the Government of Turkey for organizing this event, and by applauding the Secretary-General for launching the World Humanitarian Summit initiative, and remaining personally engaged throughout the process. Moreover, I would like to commend the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Under Secretary-General Stephen O’Brien, for his wholehearted investment in the World Humanitarian Summit, and for seamlessly maintaining the strong momentum established by his predecessor. The dynamic process that has unfolded since the World Humanitarian Summit was initiated serves as an auspicious example of what the international community can achieve while working together towards a common goal.

IOM is committed to sustaining the momentum surrounding the World Humanitarian Summit, and to working with the global humanitarian community to achieve an outcome that is befitting of this laudable, ambitious, and timely endeavour. Today’s event, just weeks from the global consultation in Geneva, is a welcome opportunity to assess where we currently stand, and to determine what work remains in the lead up to the 2016 summit in Istanbul.

When I spoke at the regional consultation in Budapest this past February, I highlighted what I considered to be three primary areas upon which we should focus our efforts to reshape aid – Partnership, Accountability, and Responsiveness.

Stronger, more diverse and inclusive partnerships are needed, now more than ever, both within the humanitarian community, and between humanitarians and other external or non-traditional actors. Accountability must be increased at every level, and humanitarians must ensure that their actions are guided solely by the needs of the people they serve. Responsiveness must be enhanced through bold, creative, and long-term approaches that go beyond simply “bridging the humanitarian-development gap.”

These issues have permeated the regional and thematic consultations of the World Humanitarian Summit. Despite extensive conversations involving countless stakeholders, consensus continues to emerge around what issues the World Humanitarian Summit should focus on: dignity, safety, resilience, governance and finance. This consensus is proof that a real sense of shared values is what underlies global humanitarian action today. We must not miss this opportunity to harness these shared values, leverage our collective experience, and in the words of the Secretary-General, “work together to save lives and reduce hardship around the globe.”

Positive steps have been taken in the name of reshaping aid but more work is still needed. We have to cast aside silos and institutional egos and collectively advocate for the inviolability of humanitarian space and the 3 upholding of humanitarian principles; be more attentive to the voices of affected populations; cooperate with non-traditional actors in humanitarian response; implement long-term solutions to protracted crises; and reiterate the primacy of state responsibility and the need for viable political processes amidst crises.

IOM has fully endorsed and actively engaged in the World Humanitarian Summit process from the outset. IOM welcomes the explicit inclusion of migration and migrants in the Synthesis Report with a call to address the humanitarian dimension of migration, as this helps to ensure that we do not continue to let migrants, with their particular vulnerabilities, “fall through the cracks” during humanitarian planning and response. Engaging seriously in the World Humanitarian Summit is essential if we as humanitarians are to improve the way we address our world’s complex crises. Therefore, IOM will continue to contribute to this process, and explore ways to translate these vibrant discussions into tangible measures that can be implemented across IOM, and across the global humanitarian community.