Brussels, World Humanitarian Day (19 August/2 September)

World Humanitarian Day 2010 posterWorld Humanitarian Day, designated by the United Nations in the memory of UN humanitarian workers killed on 19 August, 2003 in Baghdad, pays tribute to the daily efforts of humanitarian aid workers around the world. The UN in Brussels will commemorate the Day on 2 September with a mid-day panel discussion focusing on humanitarian aid dependence and an evening CINE-ONU film screening of the documentary, “Sergio” which honors the memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello.


2 September from 13h to 14h30 Panel discussion: Humanitarian aid: assistance, dependence or alibi?

Man-made and natural disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people every day.  There are currently more than 27 million internally displaced persons and 10 million refugees in the world. One out of every six people in the world is chronically hungry.  Humanitarian aid workers strive to ensure that all those who have experienced a traumatic event and need life saving assistance receive it regardless of where they are in the world and regardless of their religious or social group, or nationality.

Potential beneficiaries may be located within a zone of conflict or in areas with poor infrastructure, making it difficult and dangerous for humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance.

On the other hand there are claims that the provisions of humanitarian assistance can give a mistaken sense of security and protection by the international community and in fact the influx of aid and aid workers can create huge interferences for the future recovery of the local economy.

In the case of certain countries and regions, some even go as far as to talk of  a ‘humanitarian alibi’, pointing to the misuse of the humanitarian idea and the efforts of humanitarian workers by governments eager to do as little as possible in economically unpromising areas.            

To what extent is humanitarian assistance creating aid dependence and difficulties in putting recipients on a more sustainable development track?

This will be the focus of a panel discussion organized by the UN Brussels Team to which we have the pleasure of inviting you to. The event is held in observance of World Humanitarian Day that took place on 19 August.

When? 2 September 2010, 13.00 to 14.30


Geert Vansintjan, Belgian Ministry for development Cooperation, Head of Unit D2.1 – Humanitarian Aid, Food Aid, Rehabilitation,

Antoine Gérard, Director OCHA,

Benoit Thiry, WFP Deputy Director,

The panel members will give short 7-10 minute introductions followed by a debate.

The debate will be moderated by Janos Tisovszky, Deputy Director, UNRIC and former Spokesperson of the General Assembly President.

Where?  UNRIC meeting room.  8th floor, Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, 155.  Entrance block C2 (behind the Security Container)

2 September at 18h30 Cine-ONU film Screening  "Sergio" 

Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power’s biography Chasing the Flame, “Sergio” revolves around the story of Sergio Vieira de Mello – the world’s “goto guy”, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq.

The film is both a celebration of Vieira de Mello’s life and agripping account of his final moments, trapped beneath the rubble of the Baghdad hotel that served as the United Nations’headquarters in Iraq while two woefully under-equipped emergency workers tried desperately to free him.

The movie is also meant as a tribute to international civil servants like Vieira de Mello and the UN system they uphold.

Filmmaker Greg Barker explores Vieira de Mello’s career – from his days as a student radical in Paris to his outreach to pariah groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Khmer Rouge which exemplified the kinds of moral choices that "the world’s all about."

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Jonathan Prentice, former Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations and Sergio Vieira de Mello’s political adviser in East Timor from 1999 until 2003. Janos Tisovszky, UNRIC Deputy Director, will moderate the discussion.

Where?Goethe-Institut Brüssel, Rue Belliard 58, 1040 Brussels, Belgium

For information on World Humanitarian Day visit:
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