ALERT – Handicap International’s Commitments for the World Humanitarian Summit | May 20, 2016

From 23 to 24 May 2016, after almost three years of extensive consultations reaching more than 23,000 people in 153 countries, will take place the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). The Summit will be held in Istanbul, with 10 000 to 15 000 participants from the humanitarian community all over the world. Handicap International has from the […]

From 23 to 24 May 2016, after almost three years of extensive consultations reaching more than 23,000 people in 153 countries, will take place the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).

The Summit will be held in Istanbul, with 10 000 to 15 000 participants from the humanitarian community all over the world. Handicap International has from the start identified the WHS process as an opportunity for having States making concrete commitments on humanitarian assistance’s challenges, and thus has been very active throughout the whole process.

We elaborated a series of public commitments, to be submitted to the WHS, on the inclusion of persons with disabilities, the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as well as the respect of humanitarian principles and core values of humanitarian NGOs.

Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian Action

Including persons with disabilities in humanitarian response will require high level commitments on the development of standards and guidelines, participation of persons with disabilities and capacity building of humanitarian actors on inclusive practices.

Handicap International has therefore developed in advance of the Summit a Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. It has already been formally endorsed by more than 50 organisations. It is open for endorsement by any State, government or organisation involved in humanitarian context: http://humanitariandisabilitycharter.org/

Handicap International endorsed the Charter and commits towards its implementation. Namely, we will support the development and implementation of global guidelines on disability inclusion in humanitarian action to be initiated in 2016. We are committed to lifting barriers that persons with disabilities are facing in accessing relief, protection and recovery support by:

  • increasing participation of persons with disabilities in decision-making and planning processes of humanitarian programmes,
  • fostering partnership with local and national organizations, including organisations representatives of persons with disabilities, and building their capacities,
  • striving to remove physical, communication and attitudinal barriers and discrimination to access to services,
  • and continuing to ethically collect quantitative and qualitative disaggregated data on persons with disabilities.

Advocacy and awareness raising programmes is also a cornerstone of Handicap International’s commitment, to enhance the understanding of the needs of persons with disabilities among humanitarian actors.

Protect civilians from the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Handicap International, as a member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), is also urging the international community to address the harm caused on civilians by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and in particular to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas.

As such, we commit to continue advocating at the national, regional, and international levels on this issue, raising awareness of the harm caused from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and need for a political declaration to prevent such harm and in particular to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas.

We will continue to collect data and document the humanitarian harm resulting from the use of wide-area explosive weapons in populated areas, and to raise awareness towards the wider public on this issue.

As a field operator with specific expertise as that issue, we are decided to lead a process towards the development by civil society actors of recommendations on victim assistance provision in a future political declaration on the use of explosive weapons with wide area effect in populated areas, and to ensure the participation of survivors and other persons impacted by the use of explosive weapons in the process.

Humanitarian principles and core values of humanitarian NGOs

As many other NGOs, Handicap International is rather pessimistic about the potential outcomes of the WHS on humanitarian principles and core values of humanitarian action. There is no real practical commitment from the states, whereas their involvement is essential to preserve those principles. Therefore, instead of endorsing commitments officially suggested during the Summit, Handicap International decided to write an official message to the WHS Secretariat and the organizers of the Special Session on Humanitarian Principles, urging for more concrete commitments to be taken by States, in particular on two main issues:

Humanitarian imperative: States should not let sovereignty issues prevail upon the obligation to respond to the needs of crisis-affected populations, and should commit to refrain from using sovereignty as a barrier to humanitarian support. The principle of humanity crosses borders.

Neutrality and impartiality of the humanitarian action: in situation of conflicts, in particular internal armed conflicts, the neutrality and impartiality of the humanitarian coordination system should be better ensured. In particular, the participation of parties to the conflict in the management and coordination of humanitarian support should not impact the impartiality of the humanitarian response.

In addition, humanitarian aid should be kept independent from military and policy components of UN missions in situation of armed conflicts. In those contexts, an increased independence and leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator, and clear mechanisms to manage and maintain boundaries in relationships between military/political and humanitarian actors, must be activated.

In addition, States and donors should commit to maintain a diversity of mechanisms, of humanitarian actors and of approaches to ensure impartiality and relevance of aid.

 


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