The Forum: A Unique Global Platform to Address Key Humanitarian Challenges

Under the leadership of Kofi A. Annan, the Global Humanitarian Forum Geneva fosters dialogue, brokers partnerships and builds political will in order to strengthen the international community’s ability to address and overcome current and future humanitarian challenges.
The work of the Forum aspires to build a stronger global community to better meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable. To this end, it connects and engages people and organizations, who do not usually work side by side, encouraging them to forge creative partnerships, think in terms of workable solutions, and precipitate action. The Forum brings together leading doers, thinkers, and decision-makers from all sectors of society: business, government, the military, the academia, think tanks and the media, as well as intergovernmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations.

The Forum capitalizes on the wealth of experience and networks of its Foundation Board members made up of 25 eminent personalities from wide-ranging backgrounds and different parts of the world, all serving in their own personal capacity.

The Forum also draws on the advantage of being located in Geneva, a primary hub for the humanitarian community and home to a unique pool of knowledge on humanitarian issues.

The Global Humanitarian Forum was launched on 17 October 2007 by the former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and the Swiss Government.

Rationale – Reaching for Wider Commitment

Today’s world requires an enhanced capacity to anticipate and address humanitarian challenges – to save lives, alleviate suffering, and to restore and protect human dignity. Increasingly cross-cutting and global in nature, many of the most pressing humanitarian problems cannot be tackled in isolation but are closely linked to the broader political, social, economic and environmental context.

This growing interdependence calls for a strengthened engagement and cooperation of a broad range of actors. There is a need to break down barriers, overcome institutional fragmentation and to promote partnerships across people and organizations that have previously not worked together on humanitarian issues.

The Forum has been specifically conceived as a platform to promote a cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to humanitarian issues.

Objectives – Working Towards
Creative Solutions

The Forum targets the following objectives:

  • Build a global community of leading thinkers, doers and decision-makers and.generally enlarge the support base for humanitarian action
  • Foster partnerships and create working links between different sectors of society and actors who do not usually work side by side, e.g. between humanitarian and business organizations, research and policy centres, and between business and government.
  • Develop creative approaches and workable solutions to prevent and respond to humanitarian crises and challenges.
  • Raise issues that other humanitarian actors cannot address – be it for institutional, political or other reasons.
  • Facilitate and drive a continuous and constructive dialogue on the future of humanitarianism.
  • Work towards increased investment in preparedness and prevention.

Themes – Addressing Today and Tomorrow’s Humanitarian Challenges

In its initial phase, the Forum will focus on the humanitarian impact of climate change with a view to boost action to meet the needs of those worst affected by climate change.

Annual Meeting – Mobilizing Political and Personal Resolve

The Annual Meeting held each summer at the end of June in Geneva is the Forum’s centrepiece event. The meeting brings together leading representatives, decision-makers and opinion-setters from governments, business, the media, academia and think tanks, as well as leaders from intergovernmental, non-governmental and civil society organizations, including representatives of those worst affected by humanitarian challenges.

Under the heading, “The Human Face of Climate Change”, the Forum’s first major event, the Annual Meeting 2008, will be held 24-25 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

Governance – Drawing on a Wealth
of Experience

A foundation under Swiss law, the Forum is governed by a Foundation Board presided by Mr. Kofi Annan. The composition of the Board reflects the Forum's multidisciplinary nature, with each of its 25 members bringing a wealth of experience in areas ranging from international humanitarian affairs to government, military service, the academia, and finance.

The Forum’s first CEO and Director General is Ambassador Mr. Walter Fust, who took office May 15 2008. From 1993 – 2008 Mr. Fust was Director General and Head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Why we have to
act now!

Kofi Annan

President of the Forum

“Our vision is a world where all possible efforts are undertaken to prevent humanitarian crises from occurring, and where the most vulnerable are protected.”

Kofi A. Annan,
President of the Forum

The Launch of the Forum

Speech by Kofi A. Annan
(pdf, 148 Kb)

Press Release (pdf, 360 Kb)