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President Higgins makes powerful speech at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit

President Higgins will be speaking on a number of topics including achieving zero hunger, humanitarian financing, gender-based violence and gender equality.

Image: Chris Bellew/Copyright Fennell Photography 2016

PRESIDENT HIGGINS IS one of the 40 heads of state and government who will attend and address the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul today.

President Higgins spoke this morning at the Leaders Segment and at the high level roundtable on the topic of Changing People’s Lives – From Delivering Aid to Ending Need.

The World Humanitarian Summit, a UN initiative, is the first global meeting on humanitarian affairs in almost 25 years. It follows over two years of global consultations and is an effort to find solutions to address humanitarian needs.

shutterstock_349188488 The Summit is an initiative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, pictured here. Source: Shutterstock/Frederic Legrand - COMEO

President Higgins said that “leaving no one behind” is the central commitment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He emphasised that we need to rethink international politics, economic, development and trade to solve humanitarian crises.

For too long, empty pledges and fine words have died in our mouths – now is the time to turn promises into action for this generation.

Leader's Segment President Michael D Higgins speaking at the leaders segment of the Summit Source: World Humanitarian Summit/Salih Zeki Fazlıoğlu

President Higgins will be the first head of state asked to speak at the high level roundtable discussion on humanitarian financing.

Tomorrow President Higgins will co-chair and address the high level roundtable on achieving gender equality. He will make a keynote address at 1.30pm on the goal of attaining zero hunger by 2030.

At 3pm tomorrow, President Higgins will make his final statement of the summit at the side event: Call to action for addressing gender-based violence in emergencies.

Over 5,000 participants are expected to attend the summit including heads of states and governments, CEOs from the private sector, heads of NGOS, youth representatives, civil-military and academia.

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Questions over the summit

Trócaire have criticised the fact that only half of global governments will be represented by senior figures. Executive director at Trócaire Éamonn Mehan said that the international political system is fuelling humanitarian crises rather than fixing them.

Ban Ki-moon’s vision was for world leaders to come together to agree to put humanity at the heart of global decision-making. The failure of governments to buy-in to this vision is telling.

He added:

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the world’s biggest arms dealers. They have played active roles in fuelling the Syrian war. The climate crisis, meanwhile, is driven by political indifference in developed countries.

A live webcast of the World Humanitarian Summit can be found here.

Read: Ireland has been told by the UN Human Rights Council to change its abortion laws

Read: WHO: Zika virus likely to hit Europe this summer

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Roisin Nestor

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