In the lead-up to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, to be held from 23 to 24 May 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey, the UN Chronicle team invited a distinguished group of contributors to write for this issue on the theme “Humanitarian Action: A Shared Responsibility”. The issue provides a wide variety of perspectives on the future of humanitarianism, along with personal reflections on how to deal with an exponential increase in humanitarian need arising from the unprecedented scale and complexity of current crises.

The United Nations continues to work with Member States and partners in civil society and the private sector to address human suffering and loss resulting from disasters both natural and man-made. UN efforts have helped meet the immediate needs of people whose lives have been devastated by events such as earthquakes, famine and war. We have also assisted affected communities in building back stronger infrastructure and institutions to help protect them from future catastrophes.

While there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of funding received for UN relief activities, it has not kept pace with recent emergency response requirements.

It is with this background that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed in 2012 the holding of the World Humanitarian Summit. The Summit aims to bring together Governments, humanitarian organizations, the private sector and those affected by crises to reinvent the international humanitarian system, making it more responsive and accountable to the people it serves.

This issue features contributions from, among others, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Alek Wek, a former refugee from the Sudan, now a fashion model and Goodwill Ambassador for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

We hope that this timely issue of the Chronicle will help inform the discussions held during and after the World Humanitarian Summit, and thus contribute to its objective of creating a more effective and sustainable humanitarian system.