The United Nations (UN) annual meeting to discuss global humanitarian issues and their possible solutions will take place at the end of this month. The latest Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will be held from 27to 29 June, 2016 at the UN Secretariat in New York.
The meeting is an opportunity for different state members along with UN members, various humanitarians and developers from both the public and private sector, to gather and discuss current global humanitarian concerns. The meeting will also discuss how the UN can improve its activities and assistance for humanitarian causes.
“Now is the time to turn our commitments into action to achieve results for people on the ground,” said 71st ECOSOC President, Oh Joon while discussing the ECOSOC agenda.
ECOSOC is one of the six main bodies of the UN in charge of running 14 specialized UN agencies and all subsequent commissions working towards improving social and economic statuses. ECOSOC consists of 54 members and has been holding sessions for global improvement since 1998. Every year in July, ECOSOC convenes a four-week long session attended by all major global agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The aims of ECOSOC meetings are to discuss all pressing international economic and social crises and to formulate recommendations for the UN and various governments.
HAS is ECOSOC’s platform for all relevant stake holders to address the effects on the lives of people undergoing severe turmoil. Every year in June, all HAS attendees agree on how to tackle the most pressing philanthropic concerns.
In 2016, HAS, with the theme of ‘Restoring Humanity and Leaving No One Behind’, will reflect on the subjects and consequences of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul last month from 23 to 24 May. Furthermore, HAS will also deliberate on a plan to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
HAS will begin with an opening address by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, followed by a General Debate on the annual ECOSOC humanitarian resolution. The three-day event will further consist of various side events.
One side event of particular importance is the discussion on ‘The Future of Global Humanitarian Health Response – WHO’ which will take place on 29 June. After the Ebola outbreak, the UN Secretary General has called for an international panel focusing on strengthening the global health architecture. The panel’s responsibility is to formulate a plan with several steps to be undertaken by WHO and other related health and humanitarian communities e.g. Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), so that their responses to global health crises can be improved.
This year, WHO will carry out its largest ever reform aimed at creating a unified program designed to deal with international health emergencies, e.g. Zika virus, HIV/AIDS etc. The WHO reforms were previously accepted at the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016.
Summarily, WHO will develop and deliver an ‘essential health package’ in case of health emergencies, which will be achieved through ‘multi-sector cooperation’ and the formation of ‘models for response to health emergencies and infectious hazards’.
According to the HAS agenda, civilian deaths and suffering have increased substantially in 2016 due to global turmoil. In some areas of the world there is currently a ‘blatant and shocking lack of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law’ with institutions such as schools and even hospitals being besieged by international disputes.
The aim of the upcoming HAS session is to ensure civilian protection in areas of conflict. The UN will take priority action in areas including better transport, hospitals and equipment for humanitarian and medical personnel. Similarly, improvements in the channels providing areas under conflict with humanitarian and medical assistance also need to be implemented. Moreover, predicting areas where imminent assistance is required is another pressing need.
ECOSOC is the central platform where the global health status is highlighted. Standards of living, employment, socio-economic progress, education and healthcare are outlined through various ECOSOC interactions.
Health is the base principle for encouraging physical and mental peace, prosperity and investment in healthcare towards a better society. However health is also affected by various factors outside of the healthcare sector such as ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and even geographical area.
According to the UN charter, ECOSOC results are responsible for ensuring standards of living in accordance to human rights. ECOSOC controls 70% of UN activities carried out for the betterment of the human health with the drafts formulated by ECOSOC being used to advocate international, cultural and educational cooperation.
“We must increase official development assistance in public health, including for building basic infrastructure,” said UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. “Finally, governments should take a strong lead in strengthening national health systems in partnership with community leaders, faith-based organizations, charitable foundations and the private sector.”