World Humanitarian Summit - Toespraak van minister De Croo tijdens de plenaire sessie

World Humanitarian Summit

Plenary Session, Istanbul, 23.05.2016

Plenary Statement

by Mr Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Government of Belgium

Alexander De Croo


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first thank the UN Secretary-General for his ‘Agenda for Humanity’ and for his initiative of calling this Summit. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-shape and strengthen global humanitarian action.

We recall the commitment of the EU Council Conclusions on the World Humanitarian Summit of 12 May 2016 to ‘strong progress on each of the five core responsibility areas’.

Belgium will particularly focus on three main priorities.

First, we need to re-focus. We have to put beneficiaries and local actors back at the center of the humanitarian process. A changing world, facing increasingly complex and protracted crises, requires more than ever context- and needs-based approaches.

If we want to stand by our commitment of truly ‘leaving no one behind’, we have to put greater emphasis on the advantages and on the importance of localized response.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to today’s challenges. If we want humanitarian assistance to access the most vulnerable, we have to embrace local actors as partners, complementary to the mandate and the work of international actors.

Second, we have to give greater attention to disaster preparedness.

Preparedness programs are the best humanitarian investment one can make. Strengthening the resilience agenda should therefore be a top priority. Development and humanitarian actors have to team up to strengthen sustainable disaster preparedness systems. And the private sector should join this effort, as is the case with the Connecting Business Initiative.

And third, we have to play the card of innovation and technology.

Digital technology and innovation make humanitarian efforts more efficient and more effective.

In recent years, we’ve already seen the added value of technology to humanitarian assistance. Take for example the mapping of refugee flows through the use of mobile phone data or the analysis of conversational data to rapidly identify food crises.

Let us build on this and create platforms and partnerships between humanitarians, research institutions and the private sector to carry the promise of technology forward.

At the same time, let’s also innovate in the field of humanitarian financing. Belgium, for example, will introduce during this Summit, together with ICRC, the first-ever Humanitarian Impact Bond aimed at turning investment capital into aid that delivers humanitarian impact.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude with a strong call.

Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian principles is crucial.

Too many lives are lost because the most vulnerable cannot access independent, impartial and neutral assistance.

We cannot longer accept that schools, hospitals, humanitarian and healthcare personnel are being targeted and attacked. It is plain and simple: under international humanitarian law they are granted protection and all parties have to abide to this.

There can be no room for impunity and more should be done to bring those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law to justice.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Belgium calls on all stakeholders to join us in seizing the momentum of this historic first World Humanitarian Summit and to ensure an inclusive, accountable and transparent follow-up in order to deliver on the Agenda for Humanity. A UN system fit for purpose is key in this respect.

But we should never forget: humanitarian action will never be a sustainable solution. It can never address the lack of political and diplomatic solutions.

If we really care about the most vulnerable, about populations in need, we have to invest more of our energy in tackling the root causes of conflicts.

Thank you.