In today’s world of regional conflict and disaster, more than 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance simply in order to survive.
Around the world, there are brave women and men who follow their humanitarian impulse to go to the aid of their fellow human beings. Every day, they are prepared to face danger – and to meet – and resist – adversity.
August 19th is designated as World Humanitarian Day (WHD). This is the day when we honour – specifically – all humanitarian aid workers. These are our sisters and brothers who stand in the front lines of war and disaster. These are the people who, day-in-day-out, face danger to help those affected by natural disasters or complex emergencies. These are the people who sometimes, lay down their lives to help others.
It is appropriate therefore that the theme for this year’s WHD is 'One Humanity'. A humanity that binds us all and creates a common responsibility to protect everyone on this planet, especially the most vulnerable.
But there is another reason why 19 August is of special significance to us in the United Nations – and here in Iran – on this World Humanitarian Day.
It was on this day – exactly 13 years ago – that Sérgio Vieira de Mello – the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq – and 21 members of his team were tragically murdered in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
Among those who were killed was Reza Hosseini. Reza was Iranian. When the explosion killed him and his colleagues, he was trying to make life a little more safe, a little healthier and a little happier for people he hardly knew. He was saving strangers.
Today, and every day, we honour his life and all those who have lost their lives in the service of humanitarianism – that greatest of callings among civilized people.
Beyond this, World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the continued need for humanitarian assistance worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in overcoming this immense – and increasing – global challenge.
I believe that we are on the right path. I say this because, in the past several months, the world has come together to support four critical international agreements – all of which touch in one way or another, the way in which we protect our planet and its people. These are:
1. The Sendai Framework on disaster reduction (March 2015).
2. The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda that was agreed in New York in September 2015.
3. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change in December 2015.
4. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May of this year.
The fact that the 193 member-States of the United Nations international community were able to come together and agree on a way forward on these four important issues is an indication of growing consensus at the international level to prioritize development and sustainable living.
The path to reaching 'One Humanity' is well underway. On this special day, we salute those who are on the frontline of this noble ideal.
Our humanitarian workers.