The World Humanitarian Summit is scheduled to take place in Turkey, during May 2016, a meeting proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Breanna Ridsdel, spokesperson for the Summit, said, ”It will be more like a key moment in a conversation which has been going on for decades, and needs to go on for decades to come.”
One aim is to draw as many people into that conversation as possible, including the new players in the humanitarian field whose presence is one of the things changing the environment and making the conversation necessary.
In the past, humanitarian organizations consciously held themselves apart from anyone with military and commercial motives. Now they are being urged to collaborate with the private sector and in some cases, even the military.
In the past, aid was given by rich, developed countries to the poor and the undeveloped. Now the lines are not so clear. Former aid recipients are now middle income countries and aid-givers themselves, and they approach things in a different way. Big multinational NGOs, based in the West, have been joined by a host of local NGOs and civil society organizations working in their own countries. And awareness has grown of the instrumental response role played by aid-affected communities themselves.
Sara Pantuliano, director of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, says getting the balance right between the different actors will be crucial to the event’s success. “It’s a UN summit, not an inter-governmental summit,” she told IRIN. “If the recommendations which emerge are strong enough, it could make the changes in the humanitarian architecture which are so badly needed. An inter-governmental process probably wouldn’t be able to move so far. But states have to be on board so that they can take the Summit’s outcomes to the General Assembly and get the decisions required. … Governments will be invited but they won’t be driving the process.”