News & Events


Migration is set to play a central role at the first World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) which opens in Istanbul today (23/5). At the two-day event, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing will discuss with leaders of the international community the state of humanitarian aid, notably its parlous financing and the global displacement crisis.

He will help to lay out an agenda for further improvements in the manner in which aid is delivered to internally displaced people, refugees and other vulnerable populations in need of assistance.

Seven High-Level Leaders’ Round Tables and 15 Special Sessions will be convened, with the participation of some 60 Heads of State and Government, ministers, representatives of international organizations, civil society and the private sector. A further one hundred issue-specific side events will also take place over the course of the Summit.

“We approach this event with realistic expectations, but I am optimistic that the Istanbul Summit will mark a shift in our (humanitarian) world,” Swing said. “We need to ensure that the needs and rights of all people affected by crises, in particular vulnerable migrants, are prioritized as part of humanitarian response."

At the Summit, IOM is hosting a Special Session on Migrants and Humanitarian Action to focus on ways in which the humanitarian community can better address the protection and assistance needs of vulnerable migrants.

Most notable will be his participation at the Humanitarian Financing Roundtable where he will deliver a statement on behalf of IOM, WHO, UNRWA, UNDP and UNFPA.

The event will gather a panel of leaders, including Swing, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and representatives of the governments of Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, in a one-hour session ahead of the High Level Meeting on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, which will take place at the UN General Assembly on 19 September.

“The Special Session is important as it will emphasize the humanitarian dimensions of migration, particularly the need to protect and assist vulnerable migrants. This will present a great opportunity to highlight that migrants can enjoy protection of their human rights, particularly in crisis contexts that result in cross-border movements,” Swing said.

IOM is also playing a leading role in the following sessions at the WHS.
  • Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). The European Commission, the United States and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will host the session, which will address ways in which the international community can combat sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers. This represents a core commitment for IOM, which is at the forefront of Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)’s PSEA efforts.
  • Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative (MICIC). The session will be co-hosted by the US and Philippines. IOM, which plays a critical role in supporting the MICIC initiative, will participate in the panel discussion, along with the co-hosts and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).
  • Follow-up to the Nansen Initiative. The session will be co-hosted by Germany and Switzerland. Swing will join UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, and Ministers from the co-organizers and Bangladesh to introduce the discussion. The Nansen Initiative addresses the protection of people displaced across borders by the effects of climate change.
  • The Grand Bargain. This session seeks to build on the work of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. The 15 largest humanitarian donors and 15 largest humanitarian organizations, including IOM, have agreed to a set of new commitments, including more flexible funding, cash-based programming, support to first line responders, financial transparency, and ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable groups (considering, gender, age, ethnicity, language and special needs) are heard and acted upon. This is designed to help introduce major reforms across the humanitarian system over the next few years.

IOM is also taking part in other events throughout the Summit, including the Special Session on Global Health, the Round Table on Displacement, and a number of side events.
It is also participating at the Summit’s exhibition space, with an IOM booth and a booth promoting the global Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, which is co-led by IOM and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

For more information please contact Leonard Doyle in Istanbul. Email:, Tel: +41. 79 2857123.