National Humanitarian Conference: a forum for dialogue bringing together all humanitarian stakeholders


The National Humanitarian Conference (NHC), which was created in 2011, is a forum for consultation, reflection and dialogue. It is organized jointly by the Crisis and Support Centre of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and by French international solidarity NGOs grouped under the umbrella of Coordination Sud.
Every two years it brings together humanitarian actors working at the international level, the French State, members of the French National Assembly, international organizations and corporate foundations.

In 2020, the fifth edition of the NHC will take place on 17 December. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, its work will be carried out online and will involve more than 700 participants.

In the presence of the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, for the first time, and with the participation of the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the NHC will welcome in particular:

  • Nadia Murad, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018;
  • Runa Khan, founder of the NGO Friendship;
  • Joannie Marlene Bewa, Founder of the NGO Young Beninese Leaders Association and board chair of Women in Global Health;
  • Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management;
  • Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs;
  • David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Nobel Peace Prize 2020, and
  • Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Debates will focus on major themes in current humanitarian events and the work of this year’s conference will address:

  • protection of humanitarian workers
  • climate change
  • the impact of COVID-19 on international aid
  • the impact of sanctions regimes and anti-terrorist measures on humanitarian aid
  • strengthening dialogue between stakeholders in the humanitarian, development and peace nexus

The NHC 2020 will also provide an opportunity to take stock halfway through the implementation of France’s Humanitarian Strategy (2018-2022), adopted at the fourth NHC against the backdrop of a large increase in the financial resources dedicated to humanitarian aid.

Watch the debates:

Background to the National Humanitarian Conference (NHC)

Since its creation in 2011, the NHC has been held four times. Here is a look back at the main conclusions of these key humanitarian meetings.

2011 Edition

In 2011, during discussions held at the first National Humanitarian Conference in the presence of Alain Juppé, then Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, the need to strengthen consultation fora for the humanitarian community became apparent. The principle of a national humanitarian conference, meeting regularly and periodically, was agreed against a backdrop of increasingly significant humanitarian needs. Requests for financial support were increasing globally to address the rising number of large-scale disasters and increasingly complex conflicts. The development of a French humanitarian strategy, enshrined in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, was called for, and it materialized in 2012 with the drafting of France’s Humanitarian Strategy (2012-2017).

2014 Edition

In 2014, during the second CNH, the participants stressed the need for a global and multidimensional approach aimed at dealing with all the components of a crisis. As prevention mechanisms play a key role, then Minister for Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius announced at the meeting the ring-fencing of the portion of French development aid earmarked for natural disaster prevention over a five- year period. The growing diversity of actors and the globalization of humanitarian aid had become a reality and the humanitarian landscape was undergoing reorganization: in addition to NGOs, international solidarity organizations and traditional donors (State, UN, European Commission, etc.) other “new” actors appeared on the humanitarian stage. Reinforcing coordination between donors thus became a key issue in ensuring effective and efficient interactions.

2016 Edition

In 2016, the theme of the third National Humanitarian Conference was “Future roles of international humanitarian actors in the aid system”. Discussions led to debate on the guidelines proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General’s (UNSG) report1 of 9 February 2016, stemming from a long process of inclusive consultation, and published ahead of the first World Humanitarian Summit (23 and 24 May 2016 in Istanbul), to rebuild an international partnership in support of humanitarian action. Work from the third CNH was one of the contributions by French stakeholders to this international meeting. France advocated for the implementation of a series of measures aimed at strengthening and facilitating the aid ecosystem, centred on populations, structured by humanitarian principles and fostering the diversity and complementarity of actors.

1 One Humanity: Shared Responsibility - Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit.

2018 Edition

During the fourth NHC in 2018, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, presented a new version of France’s Humanitarian Strategy for the 2018-2022 period, which marked a change of scale in France’s humanitarian action and provided it with a clear goal, coupled with reinforced means. Humanitarian response capacity was more than tripled and will reach €500 million annually by 2022. This unprecedented increase in financing will go hand in hand with reforms aiming to improve the effectiveness of our aid through simplification and transparency. Jean-Yves Le Drian has also insisted on the importance of coordination between humanitarian aid, driven by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and development action carried out by the French Development Agency. Common response strategies, comprising a joint analysis of needs and the coordination of calls for projects, will be implemented. The Minister also announced the implementation of a capacity-building mechanism for local stakeholders and recalled the fundamental nature of international humanitarian law in France’s foreign policy.