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World Humanitarian Summit - How far have we come?

On May 23 and 24 2016, 9,000 people representing 180 member states of the United Nations, over 700 local and international NGOs, the private sector and other stakeholders came together in Istanbul, Türkiye for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit. Their goal: to seek a better global response to the challenges faced by humanitarian actors, and to place humanitarian action on a better footing for the future. More than a dozen initiatives, partnerships, platforms and alliances were either newly developed or strengthened through the World Humanitarian Summit process, one of which was the 'Grand Bargain'.

It has always been common knowledge that local humanitarian actors are usually the first emergency responders at the front. At the same time, they may themselves also be affected and often experience significant financial limitations. Participants and stakeholders at the summit committed to more support and funding for local and national responders as well as greater participation in humanitarian decision-making. Another issue identified by the majority of stakeholders as a top priority at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) was the integration of the humanitarian-development nexus; an effective transition or overlap between the delivery of humanitarian aid and the provision of long-term development assistance.

Five Years on: How we are delivering on the goals of the World Humanitarian Summit

A key outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit was a 'Grand Bargain' between major donors and humanitarian organizations to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian aid, getting more means into the hands of people in need. The Grand Bargain sets out 51 commitments distilled in 9 thematic work streams.

See what progress we have made in delivering the promises we have made for better humanitarian assistance.

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Malteser International at the World Humanitarian Summit and the role of religious actors

"More aid, less bureaucracy"

Along with the Order of Malta, which took part in discussions as a sovereign entity, Malteser International was involved with the summit process from the begin-ning of its extensive consultation processes. We highlighted the need for a shift towards more equal participation of partner organizations in decision-making processes as well as the need to reduce the significant bureaucratic burdens that prevent swift delivery of aid.

The role of religious actors in relief efforts was also a key focus for the Order of Malta and Malteser International at the summit itself. In preparation for the summit, the Order of Malta organized the international symposium Religions Together for Humanitarian Action in Geneva with the support of Malteser International in 2015. The symposium discussed the role of Faith-Based Organizations in humanitarian action – a key concern and core competence of the Order and its bodies. During the summit, the Order of Malta co-organized two side events with the cooperation of Malteser International: Special Session on Religious Engagement: The Contributions of Faith Communities to our Shared Humanity and One Humanity, Shared Responsibilities: Evidence for Religious Groups' Contributions to Humanitarian Response.

Program funding makes rapid relief possible – not only during the pandemic

In the Africa region, we are committed to the long-term development of our partner countries’ societies and help to relieve people’s hardship in humanitarian crises. In order to improve our ability to respond, we are participating in a pilot project for a more flexible program design which is spearheaded by the German Federal Foreign Office. The strengths of this approach became visible during the coronavirus pandemic.

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COVID-19 crisis as a catalyst for localization of humanitarian aid

While many organizations had to suspend their programs due to regional lockdowns, Malteser International’s work could be continued – thanks to strong local structures and national partner organizations. In the pandemic, it is the local actors in particular that keep up the work for people in need. A look at the Asia region shows how the system of humanitarian aid is changing around the world.

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The Order of Malta at the Summit

The Order of Malta has been engaged in the WHS from the beginning of the process. In May 2015, it organized the Symposium “Religions together for humanitarian action” at the UN headquarters in Geneva. The Order of Malta will take part in many events during the two-day summit, including a special event on Religious Engagement.

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Speech of the Grand Chancellor

Speech delivered by the Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta during the World Humanitarian Summit Special Session “Religious Engagement”.

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Bringing religion’s message of peace more strongly into play


An interview with former Vice Secretary General, Sid Johann Peruvemba, about the role of faith-based organizations in humanitarian aid.

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One Humanity: Shared Responsibility - Report of Ban Ki-moon

Report of the former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the World Humanitarian Summit, who called global leaders to commit to five core responsibilities in the name of our shared humanity.

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Our commitments for alignment

Find our compilation of Commitments for alignment by Malteser International on the occasion of the World Humanitarian Summit on the basis of Core Commitments to the 7 High Level Leaders’ Roundtables as well as samples of additional Commitments laid out in WHS-Commitment documents with references to these Roundtables and last but not least Commitments and equivalents “action areas” (charters, platforms etc.) laid out with the 15 Special Sessions.

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Dr. Jürgen Clemens
Email: juergen.clemens(at)malteser-international.org

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