Humanitarian: questioning oneself in order to progress.

Humanitarian aid workers must regularly question themselves in order to make progress. This will be the case on 17 December 2020 during the National Humanitarian Conference (CNH) in Paris under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. During this time of confinement, the CNH will be held by video conference. The 4 themes selected are all major challenges for humanitarian action.

What are the themes of this conference, what are the stakes for humanitarian workers?

  • The impact of sanctions regimes and anti-terrorist measures on humanitarian aid.

These are felt every day because of banking obstacles to the transfer of funds. In addition, there is a threat of “criminalisation” of humanitarians working in territories where terrorist groups operate. Finally, there is a challenge to humanitarian principles and security risks when certain donors ask for lists of aid recipients to be sent to them in order to check them against lists of suspects qualified as terrorists! Practical, rapid and controlled solutions are essential if humanitarian action is not to be paralysed in the long term. What are they?

  • The so-called “nexus” process, which aims to link and generate a logic of action and complementarity between the humanitarian and development phases in order to build peace.

This makes sense for states but not for humanitarian NGOs who are not in charge of peace or war. In times of war, peace results either from the victory of one side or from a negotiated political solution. Peace is then the result of a political process that does not involve humanitarians. Obviously, this is complex and deserves debate. And it does not, in principle, concern disaster or epidemic situations. How can the role of humanitarian actors in conflict situations be delineated while at the same time supporting basic essential services?

  • Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian access are closely linked.

They are regularly under threat. It is an essential struggle both for the delivery of relief supplies and for the protection of civilians, the wounded and prisoners. How can this right and access be advanced and enforced?

  • The link between climate change and humanitarian aid.

How to act while protecting the environment, how to help populations adapt to the consequences of global warming and how to contain it. This is a vast question which is fairly new for humanitarian aid workers due to the constraints caused by crises. However, it is urgent to make a firm commitment to this issue. How can we proceed in the face of the scale and diversity of applications?

Finally, the Conference will be an opportunity to review the French Humanitarian Strategy 2018-2022, to review the funding instrument that is the Humanitarian Emergency Fund and to come back to the European Humanitarian Airlift of the spring in the face of the logistical consequences of the Covid-19.

Let us recall here that the CNH is prepared within the framework of the Humanitarian Coordination Group (GCH) which brings together humanitarian leaders with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and its Crisis and Support Centre every trimestre. This Conference, this Concertation Group and France’s humanitarian strategy are the result of the Boinet-Miribel Report submitted at its request in March 2009 to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner.  The first CNH took place in November 2011.

A demanding and ambitious Conference.

In addition to the issues specific to each of these 4 problems addressed in the framework of round tables, humanitarians are waiting to see the decisions of the Interministerial Council for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) chaired by the Prime Minister on 8 February 2018 confirmed. Decisions to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.55% of GDP in 2022, according to an upward curve, as well as to endow the Humanitarian Emergency Fund (FUH) with a budget of €500M.

In addition, humanitarians propose that in the future 10% of the ODA budget should be devoted to humanitarian aid and that at least 13% of ODA should be implemented with NGOs who bring commitment, private funding, expertise, proximity and capacity to mobilise.

Finally, at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, the President of the Republic declared: “Together with French NGOs and our international partners, we are building an initiative to ensure the effectiveness of international law, the protection of humanitarian personnel and the fight against impunity”.

The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron meets humanitarian, development, climate and environmental NGOs at the Elysée Palace.

Humanitarian NGOs in France are actively contributing with their analyses and proposals to this presidential initiative, from which they expect a great deal from all humanitarian actors in the world in terms of security, access and justice, knowing that it is up to them to assume their missions and responsibilities on their own.

Défis Humanitaires will keep you informed of this National Humanitarian Conference to which we will devote our next edition at the end of November. A report and an assessment will be published in January 2021.

To inform you, Défis Humanitaire needs you.

This Conference gives me the opportunity to talk to you for once about Défis Humanitaires. More and more of you are reading and subscribing to our site and the number of readers has tripled in 3 years to reach 36,000 readers this year, in France and many other countries. 70 authors have contributed on a large number of issues, because what characterises us is the diversity of subjects and organisations presented in a completely independent way.

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In this issue you will find :

An article by Hamada AG AHMED on people’s resilience and local governance in Mali.

The presentation by Pierre Brunet of the book “Security and Development in the Sahel”.

An article by Lise Lacan and Madeleine Trentesaux presenting the international relief coordination mechanism for drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, the Global Wash Cluster.

And in the right-hand column of the site, we offer news from Afghanistan, the book on 40 years of Solidarités Internationale with podcasts, an ICRC study on the effects of war and climate change on the populations in southern Iraq, northern Mali and CAR.

Thank you very much for your donation to Défis Humanitaires, whose objective is to promote and improve humanitarian action.

Alain Boinet.