Why World Humanitarian Day is so important

As we approach World Humanitarian Day (Aug 19), we should take time to reflect on the global human efforts to create the conditions for peace and prosperity amongst all mankind, and to stand in solidarity with people wanting to bring about progressive social change in their communities.

As society comes together with the assistance of new forms of connectivity and transportation, we are transforming into an increasingly inclusive, interdependent and co-operative global community. It is in our nature to feel a sense of community with those we share resources, time and environment with. However, achieving such conditions is not without its challenges – discrimination, inequality, poverty, a worsening in national security conditions and the disregard of human life, all of which are still prevalent. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we do not turn our backs on progressive causes and that humanitarians take the lead on sharing the global dimension to all these common challenges.

It these themes that World Humanitarian Day was made to celebrate. Designated on the anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff members, World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity when all peoples can celebrate the effort to improve human life and bring justice to every corner of the world.

We should recognise that not all people have the benefit of economic security, life opportunities and freedom. In many parts of the world there are people just like us who are forced to live a life of fear and violence from oppressive regimes, economic exploitation by multinational corporations, and under the gaze of suspicion by wider society. From the ‘third-world’ countries where civil war, poverty and political instability plague the region to the ‘first-world’ countries where many have been left out of the wealth of their nation, far too many still see the struggles and battles that many in power and with influence believe have been won.

Yet, even amidst these barriers there is undeniably an ideal among forward-thinking, progressive-minded people, which rejects these conditions and believes bringing about social change. This universal spirit in a better life for all people is what fuels worldwide efforts for a better human condition.

There is no simple answer or method to bringing about an equal and more just world. But with the collective efforts by activists and charities, and aided by diplomatic negotiations, we are slowly but surely, working towards a brighter future for mankind. From efforts to support emerging democracy to international initiatives for the poor and marginalised in the world, it is clear that there is a force in our collective conscientiousness looking in the right direction and working towards it.

So let us remember these aspirations for our planet and ourselves on August 19. Let us use World Humantiarian Day to remember those figures throughout history who have worked towards the betterment of mankind. Let us use this day to remember those who have fallen victim to a broken world. And let us use this day to remember the people who are working today to solve the global issues our species faces. For peace and prosperity for all, we will continue to fight.

Varinder Singh Bola is a moderate British Labour Party politician who has served as a Councillor in the London Borough of Redbridge since 2014. He is a senior aide to a Labour Member of Parliament and is a parliamentary officer for a transatlantic nuclear weapons policy think-tank based in Whitehall, London. Varinder is related through his maternal family to the famous Indian freedom fighter and Ghadarite, Munsha Singh Dukhi of Jandiala (1890-1971). Varinder writes in a personal capacity.