Mr. Secretary General, on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, I welcome your initiative to convene the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May this year.
With the record high number of large and protracted humanitarian crises, the obligation to deliver better for those in need is more critical than ever.
We welcome the “Agenda for Humanity” in which you identify critical areas where we, the international community, need to deliver better. We agree with most of the aspirations in the report and hope that the Summit will be a turning point in addressing the future challenges for our common humanity.
Your call for a stronger political leadership in addressing the root causes of conflict is crucial. There is a need for investing more in preventive diplomacy and to see mediation, conflict resolution and reconciliation as a key to reducing future humanitarian needs. We are hopeful that the UN Peacebuilding Commission can continue to play a vital role in this regard.
Upholding the norms that safeguard humanity is more challenging than ever. As we have seen in Madaya, and in other besieged communities, humanitarian law is being violated in cruel ways by denial of humanitarian access and starvation of civilians. In some situations, access is more dire than funding and we agree with your call to strengthen compliance with international humanitarian law.
Among the most appalling crimes and violations of humanitarian law is sexual and gender-based violence. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable in humanitarian emergencies. We are pleased to see gender highlighted in several parts of the report. The “Call to Action” initiative is important and we encourage wide support for its priorities, as well as recognizing the important roles women play as peacemakers, mediators and humanitarian actors.
To ensure that children in protracted crisis are not left behind, we need to increase support for education. For too long education has been neglected in humanitarian assistance. At the supporting Syria Conference in London last week, at which the all the Nordic countries made pledges, education for the almost 3 million children out of school was one of four main priorities. At the World Humanitarian Summit in May we hope to see the launch of a common platform and a financing facility to strengthen global efforts in this field. We are also pleased that the perspectives of persons with disabilities will be addressed in one of the special events of the Summit. We look forward to further discussion on these topics in the preparations for Istanbul.
Protracted crises is a key challenge confronting the international community. We agree with you, that to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda and Leaving No one Behind, we have a collective commitment to reach vulnerable people and provide longer-term development solutions. Our approach needs to build on a shared understanding of how our collective humanitarian and development investments can work together from the outset to address fragility and build resilience. The World Humanitarian Summit presents a unique opportunity to get this right.
Investing in humanity and closing the funding gap will require both political will and collective action in a number of areas, one of which is humanitarian financing. We welcome the Report of the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. The cooperation between donors and implementing agencies must be more efficient and transparent, with harmonized reporting requirements as well as multi-year and flexible support. Collective commitments and actions are required by all member states and aid organizations to make each dollar stretch further and to assist more people. The proposed ‘Grand Bargain’ is particularly interesting in this regard and we encourage the Panel members to remain engaged on this issue in the run-up to Istanbul.
For the Summit to be successful it will be key to build on the momentum from the recent Syria conference and to continue the drive towards the High Level Meeting you called for on the 19 September. In this process your leadership in outlining concrete actions and in building consensus around commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit will be crucial.
Let me conclude by stating that the Nordic countries look forward to active engagement with all stakeholders on how the proposed “Agenda for Humanity” can be taken forward in order to have a concrete outcome from the World Humanitarian Summit.