U.N. Leadership, World Humanitarian Summit Attendees Must Take Next Steps To Follow Up On Meeting’s Outcomes

The Lancet: World Humanitarian Summit: next steps crucial
Editorial Board

“Ban Ki-moon’s final flagship initiative for his tenure as U.N. secretary general, the World Humanitarian Summit, was held in Istanbul, Turkey, last week (May 23-24). The meeting, the first of its kind, was marred in controversy before it started … On the positive side, the summit started an important conversation about how the world can better respond to, and prevent, humanitarian crises. … However, there are problems. The summit was not a formal decision-making meeting and the commitments made by U.N. member states are not legally binding. Furthermore, no independent accountability mechanism or robust framework to track progress was announced. And, disappointingly, no substantial, concrete action was achieved for refugees, displaced people, or their hosts. High-level support from major world powers was also absent. … There is a risk that the summit will become what critics feared — an expensive talking shop that tried to put a plaster on gaping wounds in the way the world collectively responds to humanitarian crises. It is now left to the attendees, Ban Ki-moon in his final seven months in position, and, importantly, whoever is elected as the next U.N. secretary general, to prevent such a dismal prediction from becoming reality” (6/4).