WHS: Shape a Different Future for the World, UN Urges Nigeria, Others

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Abimbola Akosile

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has urged Nigeria and the rest of the global community to shape a different future for the world.

His call was made at the opening of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul, Turkey, alongside other calls by the President of Turkey, relief activists and international celebrities, according to a release by the global body
“We are all here because global humanitarian action is unprecedentedly strained,” Ban told thousands of participants attending the opening ceremony, which featured creative performances and inspiring words by renowned stars including Forest Whitaker, Ashley Judd and Daniel Craig.

“I proposed this Summit four years ago out of concern for rising humanitarian needs and declining political will. Today, the urgency has only grown,” the Secretary-General stressed.

The United Nations estimates that a record number of people – 130 million – currently need aid to survive. More people have been forced from their homes than at any time since the end of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, who have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency, currently live on aid in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the North-eastern zone.

“This is a 21st century United Nations gathering,” Ban said describing the Summit, adding that its Agenda for Humanity, the document he recently issued to guide discussions and action, is based on three years of consultations with 23,000 people in more than 150 countries.

The WHS, a two-day event, which began on May 23, brought together stakeholders who have a vested interest in improving the global humanitarian system, including more than 65 Heads of State and Government as well as leaders from the public and private sectors.

The UN chief underlined that the world is looking to them for commitments to five core responsibilities: Prevent and end conflict; Respect rules of war; Leave no one behind; Working differently to end need, and invest in humanity
“We are here to shape a different future,” Ban concluded. “Today we declare: We are one humanity, with a shared responsibility.”

In his remarks to the opening ceremony, UN General Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft said expectations are high for the Summit. “People around the world are demanding that we move beyond fine words; that we build on the generosity we already see; and live up to our core responsibilities,” he said.

“Now is the time to end the conflicts at the root of the current crisis; to ensure adherence to international humanitarian law and accountability for violations; to make the humanitarian system more efficient and more effective; [and] to stand up for those we are leaving behind,” the Assembly president said, also underscoring the need to secure the extra $15 billion required to meet humanitarian needs – just one cent out of every $50 of today’s global economy.

Prior to these remarks, survivors of humanitarian catastrophes – both human-made and natural – spoke to the audience in emotional addresses, recounting their ordeals and how they overcame them with the desire to now support others.