World Humanitarian Day 2016

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to mobilize people to advocate for a more humane world.

This year, WHD followed on one of the most pivotal moments in the history of humanitarian action: the World Humanitarian Summit, held from 23 to 24 May in Istanbul. During the Summit, world leaders came together to declare their collective support for the new Agenda for Humanity and commit to bold action to reduce suffering and deliver better for the millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance. 

WHD 2016 continued communications around the World Humanitarian Summit. The #ShareHumanity campaign kicked off on 19 August 2015, beginning a global countdown to drive awareness for the Summit. In April, the campaign ‘Impossible Choices’ was launched with a call to world leaders to attend the Summit and to ‘Commit to Action’. The final phase of the campaign launched on 19 August 2016, running up until the Secretary-General's presentations of the Summit Report at the UN General Assembly on 22 September.

2016 Theme: One Humanity

Under the overarching theme of ‘One Humanity’, WHD promoted how the world came together in Istanbul around the Agenda for Humanity, and how the commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit will help the 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive. One Humanity speaks to the shared human experiences that bind us across divides and to our common responsibility to demand action for the most vulnerable and at risk of being left behind.

WHD Digital Campaign ‘The World You’d Rather’

Following on the ‘Impossible Choices’ campaign earlier this year, the WHD digital campaign ‘The World You’d Rather’ was launched on 19 August. Featuring a quiz based on the popular game ‘would you rather’, the digital campaign brings to light the very real scenarios faced by people in crisis, especially internally displaced persons. After being confronted with challenging choices, users can share a personalized graphic on social media, tweet their world leader and learn about the Agenda for Humanity.

One Humanity Events

WHD is marked every year with events held around the world. Under the banner of ‘One Humanity’, the UN and its partners organised events in dozens of countries to raise awareness of the Agenda for Humanity and inspire people to demand greater global action for the 130 million people affected by conflict and disaster.  

In New York, a special event was held at the General Assembly on 19 August, which included musical performances and speeches by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Natalie Dormer, Leslie Odom Jr., Alisan Porter, Mohammed Assaf, Yasmine Al Massri and the Harlem Gospel Choir. Hala Kamil and her four children, who were featured in the documentary ‘Children of Syria’, also attended the event, where Ms. Kamil delivered a message to humanity. A wreath laying ceremony was held on 19 August at the Visitors’ Entrance at UN Headquarters to honour the aid workers who lost their lives in humanitarian service.

Photographic Exhibition: ‘When I Grow Up’

The photographic exhibition ‘When I Grow Up’ was held at the General Assembly Visitors’ Hall at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 8 August to 14 October and at Photoville. The exhibition features moving photos that reveal the hopes and dreams of young people affected by humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Jordan, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone.

WHD Films

A virtual reality film ‘Home’ was launched, which documents the Secretary-General’s travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jordan, Lebanon and South Sudan as part of his ‘Mission for Humanity’. The Secretary-General's video statement and 2016 WHD film were also released on the Day. 

Other activities

A Humanitarian Film Festival was organized by Conscious Good in recognition of WHD. The winning films were announced on 25 August. A call for nominations for the Aurora Prize, a US$1 million award for inspiring humanitarians, was also open during WHD and until mid-September 2016 

What can you do?

WHD is a day for everyone to come together and take action for a safer and more humane world for the communities affected by crisis and the people who devote their lives to helping them. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Learn about the Agenda for Humanity and the five core responsibilities
  • Use the #sharehumanity hashtag to advocate for the Agenda for Humanity
  • Take the 'World You Rather' quiz and speak out for the more than 130 million people affected by crisis