World Humanitarian Day

"In a world that is ever more digitally connected, each of us has the power and responsibility to inspire our fellow human beings to act to help others and create a more humane world." — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016.

ACEI recognizes World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, developed in 2009 to recognize and celebrate the professionals and international organizations that commit their time and resources to providing assistance to people in need. The 2016 theme for World Humanitarian Day is One Humanity, which emphasizes the responsibility that all humans must share to aid and advocate for millions of individuals, families, and children, worldwide at risk. 

The world is witnessing the highest level of human suffering since World War II. In 2015, more than 125 million people globally were in need of humanitarian assistance and 60 million people had been forced to leave their homes.

In May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) to address these global humanitarian challenges. The Summit, which was held in Istanbul 23-24 May 2016, explored ways to improve aid delivery to people affected by crises. The WHS provided an opportunity for governments, private sector, aid organizations, academia, and crises-affected communities to come together to find ways to address the global challenges facing the world’s most vulnerable people.

A report by Ban Ki-moon, “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility,” calls upon UN Member States, UN humanitarian organizations, and other key stakeholders to commit to five core responsibilities:

  • Global leadership to prevent and end conflicts: The first and foremost responsibility of humanity, as recognized in the United Nations Charters, is to prevent and end conflicts, and to find political solutions to resolve them. Over 80% of humanitarian funding requested by the UN goes toward meeting life-saving needs in conflict settings.
  • Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity: Every day, civilians are wounded or killed in war. It is estimated that 92% of people killed or injured by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas are civilians. All States must protect civilians, and uphold the rules that protect humanity.
  • Leave no one behind: In 2015, global leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and made a commitment to leave no one behind. Every person must be reached; this includes empowering all people to be agents of positive transformation, as well as supporting the most vulnerable groups, such as children, refugees, and migrants, and end the gaps in education. In 2014, 51% of the refugee population were children. Approximately half of the world’s refugee children do not obtain primary education, and three quarters miss secondary education.
  • Change people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need: Success should not be measured by how people’s needs are met year after year, but rather by how people’s vulnerability and risk are reduced, and by their ability to become more self-reliant. By 2030, it is projected that 1.9 billion people will live in fragile situations. To change people’s lives, the international community should work toward reinforcement, not replacement of national and local systems, and anticipate instead of waiting for a crisis.
  • Invest in humanity: Investment should be made in developing local capacities, and in fragile situations. The international community should also reduce the funding gap for humanitarian needs. In 2014, only 0.4% of official development assistance was spent on disaster preparedness.

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance and the related funding requirements have hit record highs; over $20 billion is needed to end the suffering for these vulnerable people.

For more information:

United Nations, One Humanity: Shared Responsibility, Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit, Advance Unedited Draft, United Nations: General Assembly, A/70/XX. The report can be downloaded here.

More information about the World Humanitarian Summit can be found here.

Learn more about World Humanitarian Day here

Anne Bauer