Saying “it is only a matter of time until the next catastrophe strikes,” Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani, Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Qatar, proposed the creation of an International Humanitarian Operation Force that would provide an immediate coordinated response to natural disasters.
“Such a force would draw on existing military and civil resources—material and human—to bring hope and emergency relief quickly and efficiently to the victims of natural disasters, staying long enough to close the so-called ‘humanitarian gap’,” he said.
Speaking June 9th at IPI to an overflow crowd of UN ambassadors, diplomats, and members of the press, the Prime Minister said he anticipated considerable support for this initiative, called HOPEFOR.
“Indeed, a number of foreign ministers that I have spoken to about HOPEFOR are very enthusiastic,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he would ask IPI to help formulate the idea by researching past examples of humanitarian rapid reaction forces. He said he would present the idea during the next session of the UN General Assembly in September. “To work, HOPEFOR will require participating states or organizations that will commit to have their forces trained to the OCHA [UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs] standards,” he said.
The Prime Minister said HOPEFOR would have a “small, permanent headquarters to act as the nerve-center” and “sufficient regional coverage to provide well-equipped and well-trained rapid humanitarian deployment at short notice, anywhere in the world.”