The World Humanitarian Summit offers yet another opportunity for Nigeria to join forces with others and put its house in order
Today, world leaders converge on Istanbul, Turkey, to once again address the worsening humanitarian crises that have left about 125 million people in extreme need and want of dignity, security and the opportunity to thrive. Tagged the World Humanitarian Summit, with the theme “One Humanity, Shared Responsibility”, the leaders are expected to discuss and commit to policies that will deal with the rising needs arising from brutal and unending violent conflicts, including barbaric acts that violate the rules of war as well as the devastating effects of natural disasters and climatic shocks.
Some of these issues have, however, been dealt with at previous summits. Last year, heads of governments endorsed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction Framework; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The conclusions of these agreements are now being tabled for specific commitments by the world leaders.
“Brutal and seemingly intractable conflicts are devastating the lives of millions and destabilising entire regions,” says the working document prepared by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, while “violent extremism, terrorism and transnational crime are creating persistent instability”. The report adds that the widening gap between the rich and the poor is marginalising and alienating the most vulnerable people even as climate change is having a profound impact with increasingly frequent and intense storms, floods and droughts.
In calling for a global approach to these challenges within the next three years, the World Humanitarian Summit offers an opportunity for renewal of the commitment and cooperation required to prevent and end crises and reduce human suffering. Since these complex challenges surpass the capacity of any single country or institution to cope with, world leaders are expected to come up with a joint action plan.
The agenda for humanity highlights five broad areas for policy actions. It asks political leaders to assume their responsibility to prevent and end conflict. It says states must uphold the norms that safeguard humanity by enforcing international and human rights laws. It calls for the protection of the vulnerable with the catch phrase, “Leave no one behind – and reach those who are furthest behind,” by transforming the lives of those living in situations of conflict, disaster, and acute vulnerability. It asks leaders to change people’s lives by moving from delivering aid to ending need. Finally, it proposes that states invest in humanity by enhancing local capacities, reducing risk and building effective and inclusive institutions, especially in fragile countries.
We cannot agree less with the agenda for humanity which emphasises the responsibility of political leaders to be proactive rather than being reactive to issues that generate conflicts and crises. We believe that if leaders accept and commit to this basic principle of prevention rather than cure, the world stands a better chance of a rapid phase out of the crises that have bedevilled humanity.
For us in Nigeria, the summit offers an opportunity for conversations on all of these critical issues on parade at Istanbul since we are not immune to the prevailing vagaries of violent conflicts, disasters and extreme vulnerabilities. With the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in several parts of the country, and the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, Nigeria has its own share of humanitarian crises as many internally displaced persons are in search of security, dignity and the opportunity to thrive even within the unfortunate circumstances that they have found themselves.
It is our hope, therefore, that as world leaders begin the conversations on these five critical areas aimed at lessening the human misery, the authorities in Nigeria will take advantage of the opportunities its outcomes will offer, particularly with regard to the implementation of the five core responsibilities that the agenda for humanity has highlighted.