Saturday 10 December 2016

President Michael D Higgins calls for 'rethink of international politics' to tackle humanitarian crises

Published 23/05/2016 | 07:49

President Michael D Higgins with H.E Volkan Bozkir, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs at Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul prior to the Presidents two day visit to The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
President Michael D Higgins with H.E Volkan Bozkir, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs at Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul prior to the Presidents two day visit to The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
President Michael D Higgins being greeted by Ambassador of Ireland to Turkey H.E. Brendan Ward at Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul prior to the Presidents two day visit to The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has called for a “rethink of international politics” and decisive action to tackle humanitarian crises.

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The President was speaking at a leader’s breakfast at the World Humanitarian Summit which opened in Istanbul this morning.

President Michael D Higgins being greeted by Ambassador of Ireland to Turkey H.E. Brendan Ward at Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul prior to the Presidents two day visit to The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
President Michael D Higgins being greeted by Ambassador of Ireland to Turkey H.E. Brendan Ward at Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul prior to the Presidents two day visit to The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul

Outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon organised the summit in Turkey to address a number of challenges around the globe including gender inequality and climate change.

The summit has been criticised by some, including Irish charity Trocaire for a lack of high level political buy-in, but the President has called for action instead of rhetoric to implement changes.

“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,” he told this morning’s meeting.

“Let us honour those who have worked so hard to prevent, reduce and respond to conflicts, who have helped pick up the pieces in a broken world, but let us not shrink from the reality of the deep political and intellectual failures, with which we must deal, from which we must depart.”

World leaders were facing “a moment of truth” he added. 

The goals set out by the outgoing Secretary General to put a long term plan In place require more than just the re-stating previous aspirations according to the President.

“It requires a profound and integrated rethink of international politics, and of our theory and practice of economics, development and trade,” he said.

“We must be aware of all those women, men and children who yearn for, even weep for, a United Nations that would be supported, resourced and enabled, beyond any competing set of narrow interests, to act decisively against the interrelated issues of global poverty and hunger, conflict, displacement and climate change.”

President Higgins is accompanied in Istanbul by Minister of State Joe McHugh and the Ambassador to Turkey Brendan Ward.

Speaking to the Irish Independent ahead of the summit President Higgins said that the report prepared by the UN for the summit showed that the world is so far “failing” to tackle humanitarian challenges such as ongoing displacement and large scale conflict.

He will later address round table discussions on aid and improving the international response to crises.

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