ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 23 (UPI) -- World leaders gathered in Turkey on Monday to open the first United Nations' World Humanitarian Summit, an initiative conceived by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon four years ago to develop a more robust global human rights agenda that also seeks greater accountability.
Ban was among numerous leaders in Istanbul, where several nations were expected to participate in the new meeting.
"We are all here because global humanitarian action is unprecedentedly strained," he said at the opening ceremony. In addition to world political leaders, the event was also attended by entertainers, including actors Daniel Craig and Forest Whitaker.
The summit's primary goal is to reform humanitarian aid practices to react more effectively. World leaders in attendance are expected to announce new actions they will take to help alleviate suffering of women, men and children worldwide.
Ban included the summit on his Five-Year Action Agenda in 2012. At the time, he said his vision was to establish a summit that could "help share knowledge and establish common best practices among the wide spectrum of organizations involved in humanitarian action."
Video courtesy UN Web TV
"I hope that your efforts may contribute in a real way to alleviating the sufferings of these millions of people" who need "protection, care and assistance, and who seek a dignified future," he stated.
The pontiff in his remarks called on leaders at the summit to look for new approaches to solutions.
"I offer a challenge to this summit: Let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering. Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity. Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviors and attitudes of cultural superiority. Learning from victims and those who suffer, we will be able to build a more humane world," Pope Francis continued. "I assure you my prayers, and I invoke upon all present the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
"What is needed today is a renewed commitment to protect each person in their daily life and to protect their dignity and human rights, their security and their comprehensive needs."
Officials said more than 65 heads of state and governments, as well as leaders from the public and private sectors, will attend the summit.
Ban identified five "core responsibilities" he said must receive commitment at the event -- preventing and ending conflict, respecting rules of war, leaving no one behind, working differently to end need, and investing in humanity.
"We are here to shape a different future," Ban said. "Today we declare: We are one humanity, with a shared responsibility."
The summit runs through Tuesday.