Skip to main content

Fig-leaf of good intentions, allowing systematic violations by states to be ignored

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), May 23rd & 24th 2016, in Istanbul, Turkey is finally underway!
The two-day event convened by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is focused around his call that humanity-people’s safety, dignity and the right to thrive-be placed at the heart of global decision-making. Three major goals have been envisaged for the Summit:
a) to re-inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles
b) to initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks
c) to share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering
In order to deliver for humanity, stakeholders must act immediately on five core responsibilities:
i. to prevent and end conflict
ii. to respect rules of war
iii. to leave no one behind
iv. to work differently to end need
v. to invest in humanity
Besides, two other responsibilities are also highlighted:
i. catalyse action for gender equality
ii. respond to disasters and climate change
Both the goals and the core responsibilities are certainly laudable and could go a long away to help bring ‘humanity’ back centre-stage in a world that so desperately cries out for it! The WHS, a first-of-its-kind was expected to bring together heads of State and Government and key decision-makers from across the globe. On the eve of the Summit however, in a lead ‘The New York Times’ (May 21st 2016) states “most of the world’s most powerful leaders-those whose soldiers and diplomats can end wars and hold accountable those who violate international humanitarian law- are not going.”
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany is the only G-7 leader who is expected to be present. The absence of world leaders at this important summit is a sad commentary of how far an immediate global response will actually go in the wake of the greatest humanitarian crisis that has gripped the world today!
It is true however, that the WHS will bring together more than six thousand participants representing more than 125 countries, the UN agencies and the whole spectrum of civil society organisations which are engaged in humanitarian issues. It will be a great opportunity not merely to exchange notes, ‘sell’ the good work being done- but more than ever to see in what ways an immediate, collaborative, pragmatic and sustainable response is agreed upon – and which can be implemented without delay.
Many are skeptical if this will actually happen. A few weeks ago one of the leading humanitarian INGOs ‘Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) (Doctors without Borders) pulled out of the WHS. MSF stated, “as shocking violations of international humanitarian law and refugee rights continue on a daily basis, WHS participants will be pressed to a consensus on non-specific, good intentions to ‘uphold norms’ and ‘end needs’.
The summit has become a fig-leaf of good intentions, allowing these systematic violations, by states above all, to be ignored. We no longer have any hope that the WHS will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, particularly in conflict areas or epidemic situations.”
Point taken. But those who gather in Istanbul must ensure that the WHS is no ‘fig-leaf of good intentions’ and must have the courage to ask and answer difficult questions, like:
will the so-called developed nations CLOSE DOWN immediately their arms and ammunitions industry?will developing nations stop increasing their spending on ‘Defence and Military warfare’?
will nations stop the juggernaut of fascism, fundamentalism, fanaticism and misplaced ‘patriotism’ which excludes the other and propagates the building of walls and fences?
will heads of State stop killing their own people –in the name of quelling dissent and rebellion?
will human rights violations particularly of the IDPs and the refugees be addressed immediately?
will increased funding for education of the vulnerable and the marginalised become the corner stone for a more inclusive and egalitarian world?
As part of the WHS, the UN has launched a major campaign ‘Education cannot wait!’ stating,“one in four of the world’s school-aged children – 462 million – now live in countries affected by crisis. Of these children, 75 million are in the most desperate need of support: they are either in danger of or already missing out on their right to education. Education gives children the building blocks to rebuild their lives and, eventually, their country.”
These are but some of the questions! Unless there is a clear political resolve to address endemic issues- nothing may change dramatically. The WHS is an opportunity -for the sake of millions of people the world over- which cannot be wasted. It should not be allowed to be an exercise in futility or a mere cosmetic with empty rhetoric! Those who are there MUST realise that the time to ACT is NOW! Tomorrow will be too late!

*Human rights activist engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Middle-East

Comments

TRENDING

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Environment governance in small cities: Need for external intervention, capacity building

By IMPRI Team  The debate over environmental degradation has acquired substantial traction in recent years. Governments, civil communities and international organisations are all working to mitigate the environmental costs of economic expansion and growth. These reforms have also brought to light the concept of environmental governance in emerging towns, which refers to political changes aimed at influencing environmental activities and outcomes. It is under this backdrop that the #IMPRI Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a talk on Small Cities and Environmental Governance in Gujarat and West Bengal: Need for External Intervention or Capacity Building? as a part of #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of Cities – #CityConversations on January 28, 2022. The talk was chaired by Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, an Associate Professor, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan and a Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI, New Delhi. The