Oxfam “Some progress … but world leaders fail to deliver the goods” at World Humanitarian Summit

Irish President Michael D Higgins spoke in advance of the World Humanitarian Summit, alarmed at the “diplomatic failure” that is demonstrated by “75% of people are fleeing from conflict in five countries”.

Relatively few aid and development organisations have made public comment about the results of the Istanbul summit which closed yesterday.

Oxfam International logoOxfam International have. Their headline is pretty frank:

“Some progress … but world leaders fail to deliver the goods”

Oxfam welcome “the progress made by those attending the two day event but the absence of key world leaders ultimately undermined the power of the summit to deliver the prospect of real change”. Forty or so leaders were present, though German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the only G7 leader to attend. The UK was represented by International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

Winnie Byanyima is executive director of Oxfam International. She said:

“The first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul successfully brought together a dynamic mix of people who made progress on improving the humanitarian system – but ultimately it was world leaders who dodged their responsibility to protect civilians from the ongoing suffering of wars and natural disasters.

“The event had its successes:

  • it supported momentum for local leadership and included the voices of local civil society organisations and activists;
  • there was recognition of women’s empowerment as a right;
  • some richer countries including Norway and Germany increased financial commitments while Denmark renewed its humanitarian strategy;
  • there was notable progress on education, efficient humanitarian financing, and the ‘Grand Bargain’ which will give more power and funds to local frontline NGOs.”

Oxfam We Dont See Refugees We See PeopleByanyima felt that “governments have continued to only pay lip service to accountability” with actions failing word on international humanitarian law and gender equality.

“So has the Summit been a success? The true test of the summit will be whether or not we see real impact for the 125 million people affected by crises around the world.”

Other participants were a little more upbeat in their assessments.

Aside from the summit chair’s official summary, IRIN News have listed the event’s achievements:

  • The Grand Bargain agreement to make aid more efficient
  • A new fund for education in emergencies
  • A charter on including people with disabilities in humanitarian action
  • A partnership between UN agencies, the World Bank and the V20 to better prepare high-risk countries for future disasters linked to climate change
  • A platform for young people in crisis
  • New innovative financing methods, such as a humanitarian impact bond
  • An initiative to build resilience among one billion people

How quickly any of this will make a difference to the lives of millions of displaced people across the world remains to be seen. IRIN News comment:

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson says the commitments made during the Summit will be reviewed with participants over the summer and presented to the UN General Assembly in September in the form of a report by the Secretary-General. Next steps could include some kind of inter-governmental process to follow through on those commitments, but the exact approach has yet to be decided.