World Humanitarian Day 2013
19 August, 2013
Today is World Humanitarian Day – the fourth such day since the date was designated as such in 2009. The day commemorates the lives of humanitarian personnel killed whilst working to help those in need. The 19 August was chosen to immortalise the sacrifice of UN staff who lost their lives in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
Humanitarianism runs throughout our work at Wilton Park. Historically, our institution was founded to help facilitate discussion on the future of post-War Germany: in the hope of preventing another major European war.
Most of our work today has either a specific humanitarian focus or a flavour of humanitarianism running through it such as our work on food security and agriculture – a six part series run in partnership with the University of Exeter looking at all stages of the agricultural supply chain. The sixth and final instalment of this series will take place in October.
Our work on reducing the risk of disasters also has a clear connection with humanitarianism: meetings in the UK and Bangkok have explored the role of science and technology in reducing disaster risk and mitigating the impact of flooding in urban areas.
Our meetings often discuss humanitarianism at a more conceptual level such as our upcoming meeting in Istanbul on the global humanitarian system in the context of global rising actors. How far can the humanitarian system as it stands accommodate the entry of new actors – both in terms of its organisation and shared principles?
World Humanitarian Day invites us to reflect on the incredible sacrifices made by humanitarian workers in bringing help and relief to those in need. Wilton Park’s contribution to humanitarianism is to provide a safe, neutral space for all stakeholders to have difficult conversations with a view to finding workable solutions to the world’s problems.
World Humanitarian Day