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New Youth Compact to Reshape Humanitarian Work

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New Youth Compact to reshape humanitarian work signed at the World Humanitarian Summit

The first World Humanitarian Summit convened by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and hosted by the Government of Turkey, which took place on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul, saw a strong emphasis on the urgent need to address the needs and safeguard the rights of young people and engage them in humanitarian response efforts.

The Summit brought together some 9000 participants from 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government, representatives from the private sector, civil society, NGOs, media and academia, as well as youth advocates and activists, to inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to humanitarian crises.

One of theofficial Special Sessions of the Summit focused on the theme of “Transforming Humanitarian Action with and for Youth” and culminated in the launching of the new Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action as a concrete and transformative result to working with and for young people in the context of humanitarian settings.

The compact is an unprecedented and collective commitment of key actors to ensure that the priorities, needs and rights of young women and young men, girls and boys affected by disaster, conflict, forced displacement and other humanitarian crises, are addressed, and that they are informed, consulted, and meaningfully engaged throughout all stages of humanitarian action.

The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi moderated the Session, and highlighted the compact’s five key actions which focus on the improving and upscaling service delivery for young people in humanitarian settings, the engagement of youth in humanitarian response, their capacity building -especially at the local level-, and the strengthening of accountability mechanisms, resources allocations and quality and utilization of data and knowledge. He stressed that if implemented the compact will transform the humanitarian work with and for young people.

Over twenty-five partners committed to this innovative compact including Governments, donors, UN System entitities, private sector organizations, INGOs, and major youth organizations and networks and further expressions of interests to join the compact are still coming in.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, provided opening remarks, followed by compelling personal testimonies of three youth speakers from the Philippines, El Salvador and Syria. The Session included the expressions of institutional commitments to implementing the compact by high-level and other speakers, including H.E. Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom; H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs Qatar; H.E. Bärbel Kofler, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid of Germany; H.E. Mr. Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality; Mr. Per Heggens, CEO of IKEA Foundation; Professor Chiara Mio, chairwoman of the Sustainability Committee of Benetton; Mr. Scott Teare, Secretary-General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement; Mr. Essa Al – Mannai, Executive Director of Reach Out to Asia; Mr. Bas van Rossum, IFRC Youth Commission Chair; Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR; Ms. Afshan Khan, Director for Emergency Programs of UNICEF; and Ms. Yamina Djacta, Director of UN-Habitat’s New York Liaison Office.

All partners involved in the preparations of the Special Session through the WHS Advisory Group on Youth, included numerous other UN System entities, youth organizations and networks, including the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, committed to the compact’s implementation.

The signing ceremony, that followed the Special Session, offered a strong opportunity to further cement the commitments made by each of the signatories to the compact and furthermore saw the spontaneous announcement by several additional organizations that joined a co-signatories during the event.

The Envoy expressed that he was extremely pleased with the strong turn out and high-level and diverse multi-stakeholder representation during the event: “I want to congratulate all our partners in the youth sector and encourage everyone to urgently move towards implementing this ground-breaking compact”. To underscore the concrete and transformative result to working with and for young people in the context of humanitarian settings, the Envoy announced “I also commit to continue mobilizing international support for the role of youth in peace building and humanitarian response”. By committing to the compact, its signatories agreed review at regular intervals and be accountable for the progress of the implementation of its five key actions.

Youth issues featured strongly throughout the Summit, which also included a Youth Pre-Forum co-organized by the Istanbul Municipal Youth Council and UN-Habitat, in partnership with the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, and supported by the Office of the SG’s Envoy on Youth. In addition there were various side events that focused on youth in humanitarian settings as well as a consultation to gather young people’s inputs and recommendations for the Global Progress Study mandated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.

The importance of the need to engage for and with youth in humanitarian action was further highlighted during key moments of the World Humanitarian Summit, first the Deputy Secretary-General in the closing plenary panel, and then by the Secretary-General during the final closing ceremony in his statement summarizing the key commitments and outcomes brought forward by the Summit.