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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Q&A - New global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action: Commission sets out its plan on the World Humanitarian Summit

Brussels, 2 September 2015

Today the European Commission has adopted the Communication 'Towards the World Humanitarian Summit – A global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action'.

What is the Commission's position?

Today the European Commission has adopted the Communication 'Towards the World Humanitarian Summit – A global partnership for principled and effective humanitarian action'.

It lays out the EU's strategic vision for reshaping humanitarian action. The underlying message is to build and reinforce a global partnership to advance on achieving the common objectives of saving lives, preventing and alleviating suffering and maintaining human dignity. The concrete recommendations aim to reaffirm and strengthen principled and effective global humanitarian action.

Why is it important?

There has been an unprecedented rise in humanitarian crises over the last 25 years. Today nearly 80 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance because of conflicts, natural disasters, and social and economic fragility. The number of forcibly displaced people reached nearly 60 million and is the highest since World War II.

The humanitarian system is being challenged to do more, for more people, and at greater cost. Given the scale of today’s crises and disasters, funding to cover humanitarian needs cannot keep up with demand, despite record contributions by donors.

To address these alarming trends, the United Nations Secretary-General has called the World Humanitarian Summit. This is a unique opportunity to improve operating methods to serve people in needbetter.

The European Union and its Member States play a leading role in world humanitarian affairs. They are not only major humanitarian donors but also key policy-setters with global operational experience. The EU and its Member States are expected, by many stakeholders, to contribute to the success of the Summit.

What is the World Humanitarian Summit?

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) will take place on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul in response to an unprecedented increase in the number of people affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

The Summit presents the global community with a unique opportunity to establish an international consensus that reaffirms the principles of humanitarian aid and strengthens humanitarian action.

Unlike other international summits, the WHS is a multi-stakeholder process involving governments, donors, implementing organisations, the private sector and representatives of affected populations who, where needed, should commit to more effective ways of working together towards the common objective of saving lives and alleviating suffering.

As a result, the Summit will aim to influence and change the current humanitarian modus operandi to serve people in needbetter.

What are the key proposals of the Commission?

The Commission's Communication recommends seven action areas under two overall priorities for reshaping humanitarian action. It aims to build and reinforce a global partnership to work together to serve people in need.


Priority I: Principled humanitarian action

1. Reaffirming humanitarian values

The summit is an opportunity to renew the collective commitment confirming our shared responsibility to protect human lives and deliver humanitarian aid.

The common basics underpinning humanitarian action should be confirmed: the values of dignity, integrity and solidarity; humanitarian principles; the respect of obligations under international law; and the commitment to keep humanitarian work distinct from political agendas.

Every player should deploy all means – humanitarian, development, political – to save lives and end human suffering.

2. Ensuring access to assistance

The European Commission suggests that humanitarian players should engage in dialogue with those involved in conflicts to ensure access to assistance, protection and security. Local communities and civil society should advocate for the application of humanitarian principles.

Governments should ensure a safe and secure environment for humanitarian action, including by adopting suitable legal and policy frameworks to facilitate access to assistance.

Organisations delivering humanitarian aid should increase their presence in remote and dangerous areas to ensure proximity to affected populations.

3. Putting protection at the heart of response

The humanitarian community should systematically integrate protection into its actions, taking into account the vulnerabilities and capacities of specific population groups in given contexts and the threats they face.

Cooperation between the humanitarian and human rights communities should be reinforced. At the same time, humanitarian staff should remain exempt from actions that could compromise their neutrality, impartiality and independence, or be harmful to access.


Priority II: Effective humanitarian action

4. Consensus on the basics of humanitarian effectiveness

The humanitarian community should develop a comprehensive on-stop IT platform which should work as a repository of shared data on needs, capacities, risks, financial allocations, vulnerabilities, shared quality markers, common results indicators, evaluations and research.

Donors should require organisations delivering assistance to coordinate needs assessments based on data and quality indicators. Donors should use these for funding decisions and to help them streamline their contractual and reporting mechanisms. Those delivering assistance should report results and measure quality.

Donors should commit to include accountability to affected populations in the programmes they fund, while organisations delivering assistance should set standards on engagingwith populations in their programmes.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) - the primary forum for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance, involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners - should demonstrate the implementation of the Committee's’ Transformative Agenda' which sets the parameters for improved collective action in humanitarian emergencies. Donors should consider reviewing working methods to ensure results.

5. Subsidiarity and solidarity

International and national coordination structures should include all players, through formal or informal cooperation.

Risk assessments or fragility analyses should be conducted for all countries. There should also be an inventory of the preparedness and response capacities of players on all levels.

The humanitarian community should develop guidelines for specific scenarios, clarify responders’ roles and establish triggers for international assistance.

Governments and donors should support local responders’ capacity building and consider supporting their response, where appropriate.

Regional organisations should establish a network for sharing experience and training exercises. They should consider including solidarity provisions in their mandates to help those affected by natural or man-made disasters.

6. Efficient and sufficient funding

Implementing organisations should reform the appeals procedures to give a complete picture of needs and funding requirements. Individual organisations should coordinate appeals, to avoid competition at the expense of efficiency. Appeals should facilitate the delivery of quality aid.

Donors should systematically coordinate their efforts and evaluate the services provided by implementing organisations, to identify their added value and possible cost efficiencies.

Donors and organisations delivering assistance should increase the proportion of people receiving cash-based assistance depending on the context.

The traditional donor community should activate closer dialogue with donors who are not on the OECD Assistance Committee, such as with middle-income countries, regional organisations, the private sector, charities and foundations funding humanitarian action.

Incentives should be given to the private sector to contribute to humanitarian assistance.

7. Partnership with the development community

A new model for humanitarian-development cooperation is needed. It should include joint multi-hazard risk analysis and, where relevant, multiannual programming and financing, and exit strategies for humanitarian players.

Donors should try to facilitate more predictable multiannual financing through joined-up programming and implementation of humanitarian and development funds.

Donors should consider introducing crisis modifiers in development programmes, allowing resources to be reallocated to crisis response, creating a more flexible approach.


What are the next steps?

The ideas presented in this Communication will be the basis of further dialogue with EU Member States, the European Parliament, and other stakeholders ahead of the Summit including during the Global Consultation in Geneva on 14-16 October 2015. The outcomes of this dialogue will feed into the preparatory process for the WHS.

For more information

European Commission adopts its position ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit 2016

European Commission's website for humanitarian aid and civil protection

Website of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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