Today, the world faces a list of global challenges, including poverty, war, migration, terrorism, oppression and disrespect for human rights. Every country is vulnerable to these risks. In this era, the greatest response to these challenges is humanitarian diplomacy, which could increase awareness, mobilize people, influence decision-makers and get government support.
“Humanitarian diplomacy is persuading decision-makers and opinion leaders to act at all times in the interests of vulnerable people, and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles,” says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It is about advocacy, conveying a message to international audiences and pushing global actors to make change in the field of humanitarian needs.
Humanitarian diplomacy facilitates stronger partnerships in response to the needs of vulnerable people affected by global challenges. There have been more humanitarian actors, governments, international organizations, non-state institutions and individuals in the past few years, making humanitarian diplomacy highly significant. The increasing negotiation and coordination among them decreases the adverse effects of global challenges on vulnerable people.
Carrying out humanitarian diplomacy is not a choice, but a serious responsibility of countries in the international system because it is part of a multidimensional and effective foreign policy. With this in mind, Kuwait’s Embassy in Ankara will be hosting in the following weeks a very important event in the heart of Turkey’s capital. It is a photography exhibition showing joint Turkish-Kuwaiti efforts in humanitarian diplomacy worldwide, particularly their efforts for Syrian refugees.
An interesting part of the exhibition is that the photographs presented are taken from all around the world by a Kuwaiti diplomat, and is being held at a shopping mall in Ankara in order to convey the message of humanitarian diplomacy to the public as much as possible.
Turkey, one of the countries grappling with the socioeconomic effects of the Syrian conflict, has spent $25 billion on Syrian refugees. It has pursued an open-door policy toward Syrians, and carries out successful humanitarian assistance in its refugee camps.
Kuwait is among the largest donors to Syrians, and carries out several aid campaigns launched by Kuwaiti humanitarian organizations in Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria, where there is a great number of Syrian refugees. Last year, the two countries signed an aid deal to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.
An interesting part of the soon-to-be-held exhibition is that the photographs to be presented are to be taken from all around the world by a Kuwaiti diplomat, and is to be held at a shopping mall in Ankara in order to convey the message of humanitarian diplomacy to the public as much as possible.
The event is very important in that it will place at a time when international media outlets are presenting an image of Turkey as insecure and unstable due to terrorist attacks, particularly after the assassination of the Russian ambassador. The exhibition, to be held by a diplomatic mission in an open public place, shows that humanitarian diplomacy has no borders.
Art plays a significant role in conveying strong messages against global challenges. Its potential should not be underestimated. It pushes the international community to rethink solutions to global and regional problems. The system to combat modern-day challenges not only includes legal and security measures, but also artistic efforts.
Art is one of the most important parts of humanitarian diplomacy, which offers enormous potential for fighting universal threats. It is mainly up to us, the people, to support these efforts to make the world a better place.
• Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes mainly in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East. She can be reached on Twitter @SinemCngz