The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) regional consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) was held in Guatemala City, Guatemala on 5-7 May 2015, hosted by the Government of Guatemala. It was co-chaired by the Guatemalan National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
The LAC regional consultation, the sixth of eight WHS regional consultations, was the first to take place within the framework of an established and recognised regional humanitarian dialogue, the International Mechanisms for Humanitarian Assistance (MIAH). By integrating the WHS LAC into the VII MIAH meeting, the former was strengthened through the already established processes, alliances, relationships and actions. Furthermore, the broad participation of different sectors in the WHS process served to strengthen and reinforce the MIAH itself, which will remain active in LAC after the WHS consultation concludes.
The meeting was preceded by a preparatory stakeholder consultation with 4,786 individuals, 50% from affected populations and civil society groups in specific situations of vulnerability. In addition, 32 consultation events were held in 23 countries, focus group discussions were held in 18 countries and individual interviews held in 13 countries. Consultations also took place through virtual spaces with the general public and with academic and non-governmental organisations. In addition, the region also hosted the first WHS consultation on Gender Equality.
This alliance of the MIAH/WHS meeting brought together more than 180 participants, panellists and facilitators from Member States, regional and sub-regional organisations, the United Nations System, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international and national civil society organisations, academia, women’s groups, indigenous people, private sector and affected communities. Roughly 52% were male and 48% were female. Additionally, representatives from Guatemala and Member States from other regions that have hosted or will host other WHS consultations were present as observers.
Finally, it is recognised that the support of more than 80 collaborators guaranteed that aspects of the event were carried out successfully.
The WHS LAC was organised around the four global themes of the Summit with a fifth space for dialogue on displacement and violence added due to its high relevance and impact in the region. Within this context, some of the more frequently mentioned cross-cutting themes that emerged throughout the discussions during the VII MIAH include:
Recognise and promote the central role of affected people and communities in humanitarian action and guarantee spaces for their empowerment and leadership in all phases of humanitarian action.
Recognise the value of ancestral and traditional knowledge from populations as an important contribution to humanitarian action in the region.
Reaffirm the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence with a focus on rights and inclusion and ensure that International Humanitarian Law prevails and is respected.
Reaffirm the primary role of leadership and responsibility of the affected State in responding to the needs of its people in situations of disaster and crisis. Reinforce the imperative to develop public policy, laws and norms with a comprehensive humanitarian focus oriented towards resilience and that also address climate change and risks associated with urbanization through disaster risk reduction actions.
Recognise the fundamental importance of holistic coordination between all actors and at all levels with particular consideration for voices and contributions of local people and communities as well as of groups that may be placed in situations of greater vulnerability or have specific needs, such as women, girls and boys, adolescents and young people, the elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous populations, and people of African descent, among others.
Seek complementarities and ways to reduce gaps between the humanitarian and sustainable development agendas with the aim of reducing vulnerability.
Incorporate an inclusive vision in all humanitarian action that is based on human rights and promotes gender equality.