Hundreds of world leaders and politicians will descend on Istanbul on Monday in a nominal attempt to reform the global humanitarian system, despite criticism that their summit is a photo-opportunity that will achieve little.
Representatives of 175 countries, including 57 heads of states or governments, will attend the world humanitarian summit, as the outgoing UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attempts to restructure the way the world responds to humanitarian crises.
With more people – about 125 million – in need of humanitarian assistance than ever, aid groups increasingly under-resourced, and international law under growing threat, Ban wants the international community to agree to new global humanitarian standards.
The key commitments to which he hopes leaders will agree include better structuring of aid; more funding for local groups; greater respect for the rules of war; better planning for disaster situations and climate change; and wider sharing of refugee populations.
Hailing the prospects of the summit, Herve Verhoosel, the summit’s spokesman, said: “It’s the first time in 70 years of UN history that a summit has been organised to talk about humanitarian issues. Today we’re living in the worst humanitarian situation since world war two – we have 125 million people in need of humanitarian support in the world. Can we cope with that situation working the same way we do today, or do we need to change it? That’s why the secretary general has called this conference.”