What we want the summit to change and why

We asked nearly 1,000 people across 16 national consultations what they wanted to achieve at the World Humanitarian Summit.

These findings have shaped the key messages we are taking to the summit on May 23-24, putting people affected by natural and man-made disasters at the heart of humanitarian relief.

Find our responses to the five Core Responsibilities below.

Core responsibility one: political leadership to prevent and end conflicts

Conflicts are a major driver of humanitarian crises. Fourteen out of the 34 countries in which Islamic Relief operates are affected by active, violent conflict while another 18 risk escalation into crisis. As a humanitarian agency we play our part in delivering life-saving aid to communities trapped inside conflict zones, as well as those fleeing violence. We call on Member States at the WHS to play their part by investing more energy and resources in conflict prevention and peace processes.

IMAGE-2Conflict sensitivity is a key dynamic of humanitarian effectiveness, although current approaches to programming often remain at the bare minimum standard of ‘Do no harm’. We ask the UN and major donors to ensure humanitarian programmes integrate conflict sensitivity into their design and work within long term planning frameworks for conflict prevention.

Islam has within it a strong tradition of peacebuilding. Sadly this is poorly recognised within public discourse across the globe today. Our experience working with traditional dispute resolution systems in numerous countries has shown that working with religious traditions and practice involving faith communities is vital if we are to build their resilience to the escalation of conflict.  We call on NGOs, Governments and the UN to take a more faith literate approach to conflict transformation and actively engage faith leaders and traditions at local and national levels in responding to humanitarian crises and peacebuilding.

Core responsibility two: uphold the norms that safeguard humanity

The humanitarian space is shrinking as adherence to International Humanitarian Law diminishes. Islamic Relief is deeply concerned by first-hand witness reports of both state and non-state actors indiscriminately bombing hospitals, schools and other civilian targets in conflict zones. We call on Member States at the WHS to fully recommit to International Humanitarian Law and agree to robust multilateral mechanisms for monitoring and accountability.

IMAGE-4The safety of humanitarian workers is increasingly under threat. In the past few years, Islamic Relief has lost a number of staff working in conflict zones. We call on the UN and Member States to do more to protect humanitarian action and ensure the safety of local and international staff.

Islamic Relief is able to deliver lifesaving food and medical supplies to a number of besieged towns inside Syria and Yemen through our local partner organisations. We call on Governments and donors to do more to assist hard-to-reach communities in conflict affected states, by enhancing partnership mechanisms that support local organisations working in conflict hot spots, including re-examining the  adverse impact of counter terrorism legislation on legitimate humanitarian agencies.

Core responsibility three: leave no one behind

Increasing numbers of forcibly displaced people are being denied their human rights as refugees by States, thereby forcing them to resort to irregular and unsafe transit options offered by people traffickers. In addition, the burden for hosting refugees is unfairly and disproportionately falling on poor and developing nations. We call on Member States to establish an international cooperation framework to equitably share the responsibility for hosting refugees and ensuring safe and legal avenues for all asylum seekers.

IMAGE-5As the frequency and complexity of humanitarian crises continues to intensify, the humanitarian community must work hard to ensure the most vulnerable are not excluded from aid provision or denied their human rights. Islamic Relief’s track-record of empowering women and orphaned girls and boys across our programmes in Asia, Africa and Middle East, has demonstrated the importance of diverse voices, but also that all humanitarian actors can do more to strengthen the voices of women, children, people who are older and people with disabilities. We acknowledge that harmful cultural norms and practices continue to restrict women and girls’ fulfilment of their human rights, especially where there is conflict and displacement. Islamic Relief has seen the benefits of developing faith literate materials that tackle such social norms. We commit to strengthening gender mainstreaming and inclusion in all our programmes (including working to end gender based violence) and call on donors to provide more funding for protection activities.

Core responsibility four: change people’s lives — from delivering aid to ending need

High mortality in humanitarian disasters disproportionately affects communities with high poverty indices. Supporting the resilience of local communities to adapt to increasing vulnerabilities caused by climate change, conflict and economic instability is therefore a key strategy in humanitarian effectiveness, yet only 0.4% of overall development assistance is spent on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Islamic Relief has provided leadership on enabling agreement on an International Islamic Declaration on Climate Change in 2015 amongst Muslim states which has led to informed campaigning through faith leaders in their respective countries.  Islamic Relief’s DRR programmes in places like Bangladesh, Philippines, Kenya and Pakistan work with existing community organising mechanisms and local governance structures to build long term capacity for disaster response and climate adaptation. This kind of work is grossly underfunded. We call on Member States to move beyond short term reactions to humanitarian crises – to invest in long term resilience building and disaster risk reduction as outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

IMAGE-6We welcome the Secretary General’s focus on localisation and strongly affirm the need to integrate local knowledge, including those of religious institutions and faith leaders, into project design. The practical value of faith literate approaches for effective response mechanisms was demonstrated during our engagement with responses to the Ebola crisis, where greater attention to the religious dimensions of end of life rituals have saved lives, but would have saved more if given due attention at an earlier stage. Islamic Relief is committed to the Charter 4 Change target of 20% of funding going to local aid actors and is actively building the capacity of local partners in humanitarian response.  Direct funding of southern NGOs is extremely low at less than 1% of the global aid budget.  The new funding arrangements envisaged for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at national level can potentially transform the effectiveness and accessibility of aid resources. We call on the UN and INGOs to ensure national coordination mechanisms are more inclusive of local organisations, including faith based NGOs.

Core responsibility five: invest in humanity

Humanitarian funding must be diversified if it is to meet the current demand of increasing numbers of protracted and complex crises. One area for innovation in financing is to better understand the potential of Islamic social finance. Islamic Relief member agencies annually raise approximately £20m through Zakat alone while globally the figure generated by the Muslim community is estimated to be at least $200bn (compared to a total global aid budget of $135.2bn). We see that a key area for innovation lies in recognising the potential of Islamic social finance, but that this must be done with due sensitivity. We call on Muslim Member States to develop transparent and effective practice in relation to mobilising this enormous potential resource to tackle poverty and transform lives.


For Islamic Relief media interviews and enquires at the World Humanitarian Summit contact Mohammad Shakir on +447747022590 or mohammad.shakir@irworldwide.org