People fled the fighting in South Sudan. Members of the ACT Ethiopia Forum have supported the people arriving in Ethiopia. Photo: Christof Krackhardt
Under Core Responsibility Two – “Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity”, the report of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the World Humanitarian Summit listed in its Agenda for Humanity a range of different elements, which support the emphasis, that even wars have limits. We as ACT Alliance share the main message, that minimizing human suffering and protecting civilians requires strengthening compliance with international law.
As a network of humanitarian and development organizations, grounded in Christian Faith, we believe that the life of every person has intrinsic value and that it must be upheld and lived in dignity. Therefore, the ACT Alliance commits to speak out on violations. In an expression of global solidarity with poor and marginalized people, we will amplify the voices that promote human rights and international humanitarian law and speak out against social and structural injustice. This follows a rights-based approach, thus supporting and amplifying the voice of people and communities in pursuing their rights and their efforts to hold their local and national authorities accountable.
We want to be very clear with states, that it is their primary responsibility to respect and to ensure human rights. They and all relevant non-state actors alike must act in accordance to the fundamental norms of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.
However, in reality, the people we serve in many crisis environments, as much as our colleagues from our member organizations, are victims of violations and observe the daily realities. They are deprived of accessing fundamental services. They are deprived of the realization of their fundamental rights. Those who work in crisis environments to substitute or complement essential services and to build and advocate for the basic dignity of the population affected by crisis are prevented to do so, often they are even directly targeted.
Putting the human life at the center of our efforts – following the humanitarian imperative – we are convinced that promoting a rights based approach and the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law, through advocacy and practical implementation, is an essential part of the responsibilities that we have towards the populations we serve. As an alliance of different local and international humanitarian and development organizations, we are conscious about the challenges of advocacy in conflict and crisis environments. As an alliance, we share the commitment to the principled nature of humanitarian action. We acknowledge that due to our different missions and engagements, as much as in reflection of the different contexts, we have to choose different tools and ways of making our advocacy efforts work.
With more than 140 members, and organizations working in more than 100 countries, our network already has an incredible strength in regards to field evidence. Ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, and in reference to our Global Strategic Framework, the ACT Alliance is committed to finalize its Global Advocacy Strategy. This strategy shall enable all of our members, alone and in partnership, to advocate effectively together at national, regional and global levels on issues of human dignity, community resilience and environmental sustainability leading to positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice. Through the set-up and implementation of different tools, we hope to enhance the alliance’s advocacy capacity and coordination at all levels, in order to really live up to this commitment.
Christian Huber is the Advisor on Humanitarian Policy and IHL at the Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe in Germany, member of ACT Alliance. After nearly a decade of working in the implementation of Humanitarian Assistance and Protection programs in the field, he is now focusing on humanitarian advocacy at a German and European level. He is a member of the Humanitarian Policy and Practice Group of the ACT Alliance. He lives in Berlin.