25 June 2014
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6630

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2014 Substantive Session

28th & 29th Meetings (AM & PM)


Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolution Urging Continuing Enhancement

 

of United Nations Humanitarian Capacities

 


New Language on Internal Displacement as Humanitarian Affairs Segment Concludes


Concluding its three-day humanitarian affairs segment today, the Economic and Social Council adopted a consensus resolution that not only called upon the United Nations to continue enhancing its existing humanitarian capacities but also included new language addressing the frequently protracted nature of displacement resulting from complex crises and emergencies.


The new language contained in the nine-page text recognized the principles on internal displacement as an important international framework for the protection of internally displaced persons, and encouraged Member States and humanitarian agencies to continue to work together in collaboration with host communities while providing more predictable responses to their needs.


In a similar vein, the text said that the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, alongside development organizations, should help national leadership build local preparedness capacity.  Coordination on the part of United Nations humanitarian entities, other relevant humanitarian organizations and donor countries should also be enhanced, in cooperation with the affected State.  The planning and delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance must be conducted in a manner supportive of early recovery, as well as sustainable rehabilitation, reconstruction and development efforts.


The resolution also stated that humanitarian assistance should be delivered in adherence to the guiding principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, as well as independence.  It called upon Member States, with support from relevant organizations, to strengthen leadership and commitment to preventing and mitigating humanitarian crises, including through the integration of risk management into national development plans.


During the concluding general debate, important messages emerged, with several delegations emphasizing that the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence had to be present when humanitarian aid was being engaged.  Speakers also stressed the need to shift from responding to crisis to creating risk-reduction strategies and disaster preparation.  Better working methods needed to be developed to ensure rapid and effective responses that also engaged local stakeholders.


Speaking during the general debate, the representatives of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina shared their respective countries’ recent experience of flooding.  The latter described the efficient cooperation of the United Nations team with her Government in reducing the impact.  Serbia’s delegate said that more than a dozen countries from around the world had participated in helping his country, for which he expressed the nation’s gratitude.


Prior to the resolution’s adoption and conclusion of the general debate, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, moderated a panel discussion titled “Serving the needs of people in complex emergencies”, which tackled the intricacies of crises and humanitarian aid response.  Participating panellists joined the discussion both in person and via video link from the Central African Republic.


Participants in the general debate included representatives of India, Mexico, Italy, Norway, Syria, Morocco, Russian Federation, Finland, South Africa, Spain, Burkina Faso, Japan, New Zealand, Algeria, Australia, Cuba, United States, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Sweden, Turkey, Iran, China, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Netherlands, Brazil and Kuwait.


Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also participated.


The representative of Greece spoke on a point of order.


The Economic and Social Council will reconvene on a date to be announced.


Background


Meeting this morning to conclude its three-day humanitarian affairs segment, the Economic and Social Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/69/80-E/2014/68) and a related draft resolution (document E/2014/L.18).


Opening Remarks


IBRAHIM O. DABBASHI ( Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the panel’s focus was of great importance to him given his country’s recent history.  Man-made disasters around the world, including political crises and conflicts, incurred an enormous human cost, with funding for more than 80 per cent of humanitarian needs resulting from complex emergencies.  The discussion would explore how the humanitarian system could be built to better serve those in such situations, how existing models could better protect people, as well as new ways to strengthen partnerships between international and local actors in order to bring better assistance to more people.  It would also address the responsibilities of the concerned parties during hostilities and the provision of more sustainable solutions for displaced people.


Panel Discussion


Moderating the panel on “Serving the needs of people in complex emergencies” was Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  The panellists were Jose Ramos-Horta, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head, United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS); Ahmed Al-Kohlani, Director, Executive Unit, Internally Displaced Persons and Camps Management, Yemen; Philip Spoerri, Director for International Law and Cooperation, International Committee of the Red Cross; Nestor-Desiré Nongo-Aziagbia, Monsignor, and Roman Catholic Bishop of Bossangoa, Central African Republic (via video link); Oumar Kobiné Layama, Imam and President, Islamic Council, Central African Republic (via video link); and Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou, President, Evangelical Alliance, Central African Republic (via video link).


Ms. AMOS opened the discussion by pointing out that more than 23,000 people a day were forced to seek protection from hostilities, and that 33.3 million had been displaced in their own countries by violence and human rights violations.  While most complex emergencies were protracted, in certain instances, there was hope that the situation would stabilize, only for conflict to re-emerge.  Lack of access and active hostilities were not the only reasons that people affected by complex emergencies enjoyed no protection or assistance, she said, pointing out the inadequacy of aid.  It was also crucial to talk with armed groups and gain their acceptance of the need to ensure access.  “We have disagreements with Member States who see such engagement as conferring legitimacy on these groups,” she said.  However, that was not the case.  It was all about negotiating access to those in need.  In addition, it was essential to work with local communities in order to identify their needs and to build more effective partnerships with them.


Mr. RAMOS-HORTA, noting that the discussion was taking place on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, said too many societies today were suffering civil war and other forms of armed conflict, ethnic or religious violence, as well as growing militarization.  From Syria to South Sudan to the Central African Republic, civilians bore the brunt of the violence.  While there had been a decline in inter-State warfare since the Second World War, there had also been a dramatic rise in intra-State conflict, characterized by deliberate “one-sided” violence against civilians.  The blurring of civilian and non-civilian boundaries, as well as growing civilian engagement in conflict, was another trend, he said.  As such, shifts in global geopolitical and economic power must be accompanied by a growing responsibility on the part of rising global actors to respond to humanitarian crises.  Humanitarian action must be complemented by more intensive investment in peacebuilding, including conflict prevention and addressing root causes.  More must be done to help States understand their duty to protect all civilians, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race or gender.  Armed State, as well as non-State actors, must be more intensively engaged in order to understand their obligations under international humanitarian law.


Mr. KHOHLANI said the Government of Yemen was partnering with international and local organizations to coordinate humanitarian efforts on behalf of the more than half a million people displaced in the country.  “War stops in one region to erupt in another,” he said, noting that it had erupted six times in Saada Province, making displaced persons hesitant to return home.  Such disruptions had psychological and health consequences, especially among children and women.  In the past, humanitarian organizations had encountered problems in dealing with the multitude of local authorities, but today there was one central authority, with provincial branches, to deal with them.  A central information centre had been created, and statistics were being updated every month to provide accurate information on the displaced, he said, adding that food-rationing lists were updated regularly and provided to the World Food Programme (WFP).  Furthermore, the executive authority held weekly meetings with international organizations to handle challenges, providing both emergency assistance to the newly displaced and transport fees to those wishing to return home.  “Impartiality has been at the core of our work” regardless of whether displaced persons favoured the Government, he said.  A yearly plan was elaborated to meet humanitarian needs.


Mr. SPOERRI said that despite universal adherence to international humanitarian law, grave violations were being reported every day.  The real challenge was “simply the lack of respect of even the most basic tenets of international humanitarian law”.  While the key role of the Red Cross under the Geneva Convention was to apply its principles faithfully, the limits were nevertheless real.  Specific mechanisms provided by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its 1977 Additional Protocol were rarely used in practice, and part of the reason for that failure could be the fact that the consent of parties to a conflict was required to trigger those instruments.  Furthermore, they were designed for international armed conflict, not the non-traditional conflicts of today.  The Red Cross and Switzerland had launched a consultation process with States and other relevant stakeholders in order to strengthen compliance mechanisms, he said.


Monsignor NONGO-AZIAGBIA said there were now 40,000 displaced persons on his country’s border with Chad.  The impact of the international community’s humanitarian actions still needed to be felt realistically on the ground, he said, emphasizing that he had been trying to make clear to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) what was not functioning and what the population’s concerns were.  They faced enormous difficulties, with humanitarian workers unable to move freely because many areas were inaccessible.  The task of the United Nations was clear:  the country was waiting for disarmament to take place, and the United Nations must ensure that its missions were fully involved and that there was “no wrong interpretation” of events.


Imam LAYAMA, describing his country as “a real powder keg”, said international humanitarian efforts were lacking, people were suffering and disease spreading, emphasizing that the system for accessing aid must involve local actors as well.  Village heads, who knew the displaced and what had occurred, would know how to distribute within Bangui and beyond.  Aid workers should engage local chiefs because humanitarian actors had trouble moving around.  “The chiefs can help.  Religious leaders will help,” he stressed.  Calling for greater transparency in the use of funds by non-governmental organizations, he said it was important for the United Nations to ensure that funds were going to the right place or being used for administrative purposes and not reaching those in need.


Reverend GUÉRÉKOYAME-GBANGOU said the situation was complex and required a “fresh and sincere” discussion if anything was to improve on the ground.  More than 90 per cent of the population were “believers”, and religious leaders must care for those involved in the conflict.  Humanitarians came to religious leaders in a “narrow” way, he noted.  “Protestants, Catholics, Muslims — why shouldn’t all of us be associated with efforts to find solutions to the problems humanitarian workers were there to solve?”.  The results of humanitarian efforts were not very visible because humanitarians were only present in accessible areas, he noted, urging engagement with the future leaders of religious groups.  In that way, those targeted by the violence could be reached.  He also called for closer cooperation and better coordination among humanitarian workers and religious groups, stressing that a real, effective partnership would produce good assessments and results.


Mr. RAMOS-HORTA, responding to a question arising from the ensuing discussion — on creating institutions for facilitating engagement — recalled that Guinea-Bissau, where nearly the entire population were “believers”, had never suffered ethnic or religion-based violence.  Violence always occurred among the military or political elites.  “People were never dragged into the conflict,” he said, asking where the spiritual leaders of the Central African Republic were in efforts to prevent conflict in that country.  Flawless elections had been held in Guinea-Bissau, he said, stressing, however, that he did not consider that a benchmark of success.  Rather, the atmosphere — and how people really felt about the situation — was the true measure.  Basic needs must be met, and sustainable development could not be achieved without modernization of the State.  “There are no shortcuts for that,” he said, adding that such a process took at least five years.


Ms. AMOS underlined the necessity of long-term commitment, saying it was critical to stabilizing and building the State.  The role of national Governments was crucial in bringing communities together, yet there was need to explore how the international community could be more of service in meeting that goal.


Mr. KOHLANI said that during his country’s recent political crisis and armed confrontation, regional and national stakeholders had formed a consensus in order to avoid civil war, which, had it erupted, would not have ended for years.  Cooperation and support from neighbouring brotherly countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, was critical, as demonstrated by the initiative monitored by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the “P5” of the Security Council.  The drafting of a new constitution and the establishment of a new national Government were under way and the international community should “please continue applying pressure on those armed groups” in order to ensure a successful transition.


Mr. SPOERRI also said that protection work required “one’s feet on the ground” and direct access in order to witness and intervene.  Recent times had seen workers falling victim to insecurity, including the 37 Syrian Red Crescent volunteers who had been killed.  Regardless, it was imperative to continue going directly where aid was needed, no matter how difficult it was, he said.  “Those are difficult circumstances, but we have to keep trying.”


Participants in the room and around the world on social media then addressed a range of coordination-related issues, asking the panellists how roles could be defined in efforts to protect civilians.  It was unacceptable that aid delivered by impartial actors was blocked in certain situations, some speakers said, asking how to reverse that trend.  Working in complex emergencies required asking whether the current system was sufficiently capable of handling such challenges.


On that point, the representative of Nigeria asked about the strengthening of early-warning mechanisms, rather than spending “fortunes” after lives had been lost.  Despite the “massive” insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria, only little support had been received from the international community, he noted, asking why it was more readily available in some situations and not in others.


The representative of Switzerland asked about how the trust of actors on the ground could be gained when humanitarian efforts were managed remotely.


The representative of Norway asked what the United Nations was doing to strengthen cooperation among stakeholders.


A representative of the European Union Delegation asked what could be done to convince States and armed non-State actors that allowing humanitarian access did not undermine sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The representative of Sweden asked about the implications for international humanitarian law when more humanitarian aid was being distributed by a growing number of actors


Monsignor NONGO-AZIAGBIA said religious leaders had anticipated the crisis in the Central African Republic and proposed ways to respond, but their suggestions had not been heeded either at the national or international levels owing to a lack of political will.  Religious leaders were focused on both policy and ethics, he added, emphasizing that the latter could never be sidelined in broader humanitarian discussions.  Sexual exploitation and child recruitment were also concerns, and religious leaders had a role to play in raising awareness about them, as well as other issues.


Imam LAYAMA echoed his colleague, noting that religious leaders had been the avant-garde in raising awareness.  They had travelled thousands of miles across the country to deter people from participating in the conflict.  He also pointed out that the country no longer had an education system, and that one solution could be to get schools running again so that children could resume learning.


Reverend GUÉRÉKOYAME-GBANGOU expressed surprise at the question about where religious leaders were, emphasizing that they had all stood together and spoken out together since 2012.  The crisis was not a religious one, but a military and political one, he stressed, asking those who had asked the question which place should be accorded to religious leaders and whether their proposals were being considered.  Instead of playing “this game of ping-pong”, stakeholders should all join together in making a success of efforts to restore peace and stability.


Mr. KOHLANI pointed out that most parties to conflict were not aware of international humanitarian law and were never held accountable.  Progress would be made when that changed.  Religious leaders certainly had a role to play, but they should remain impartial, he emphasized.


Mr. RAMOS–HORTA noted the tendency to blame outsiders for national problems because leaders lacked the courage to face their own failures.  A notion of “false pride” prevented them from seeking international assistance early.  He recalled that, as Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, he had told Parliament that his first responsibility was to protect the citizens and it was therefore his obligation to ask for assistance.  As President, he had asked the Security Council for help, but only for five years, he said, adding that if he had had to come back and seek more help, he would have failed and should have received a “certificate of incompetence”.  Pointing out that Timor-Leste had now enjoyed peace for the last seven years, he commended religious leaders in Central African Republic, saying it was clear they needed more support because it was a huge country with no infrastructure.


Mr. SPOERRI said remote management would always be second best, and it was important to be really sure who those partners were, while paying great attention and trusting perception.  There were many notions of protection and different understanding, and it was crucial to make distinctions.  As for the abduction and killing of aid workers, currently in numbers not seen before, he stressed that the most important thing was that such actions were a breach of law.  The role of the United Nations, media and local actors could all be utilized to that end.  Noting that local actors often conducted protection efforts on the front lines, working for their people and willing to take risks, he said it was important to equip them appropriately.


In a second round of questions, the representative of the Russian Federation asked whether risks to humanitarian workers outweighed the principle of State sovereignty.


The representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) asked how regional organizations could participate in building the capacities of local non-governmental organizations and in ensuring that States could participate in such efforts.


The representative of Brazil said that the question of drones, a remote-controlled “killing technology”, and their remote deployment by a handful of countries, usually in violation of airspace sovereignty, should not be underestimated.  How was ICRC working to protect civilians amid the growing use of drones?


The representative of Syria recognized right of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to negotiate with all parties to conflict in order to facilitate humanitarian access, but asked how negotiations with terrorists were possible, and further, how protection for negotiators could be ensured.  To what extent did humanitarian organizations prioritize the building of confidence with Governments over raising issues that fell outside the scope of humanitarian access?


Mr. KOHLANI, responding to the question about drones, said that some people in Yemen favoured their use in targeting terrorists, but they could also kill civilians indiscriminately, especially in remote regions.  The families of terrorists were also victims because they received no compensation or care from Governments or international organizations.  Yemen’s mountainous geography made it difficult to find terrorists and prevent their attacks, he said, adding that drones were used for that reason.  Rules must be established between Governments and international organizations to ensure that the rights of refugees were protected.


Mr. RAMOS-HORTA said there was sometimes very little the international community could do to end wars, as in the case of the Iran-Iraq conflict of the 1980s.  In Syria’s case, two of the world’s greatest diplomats had been unable to convince the parties to negotiate, and today in Iraq, little could be done to end that conflict.  The obligation was to mobilize resources so as to help internally displaced persons, refugees and others.


Mr. SPOERRI said that where States failed in their responsibility to care for their people, as outlined in international humanitarian law, they must seek other ways to do so.  History had shown that “go-betweens” could accomplish things that States could not.  On the issue of drones, he said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had never described them as illicit weapon systems.  However, international humanitarian rules applied to drones and ICRC would examine exactly how.


Ms. AMOS, summarizing the discussion, noted that Governments were sometimes themselves party to conflict and could not help humanitarian workers.  While such workers must take responsibility for their own safety, they did not have to seek permission to negotiate with armed groups.  There had been a focus on the need for humanitarian action to be supported by stronger peacebuilding and preventive diplomacy, as well as accountability and partnerships with local communities and religious organizations.  The centrality of justice and the rule of law had been repeatedly stressed throughout the morning.  Whatever was done to support people caught in conflict, the key element was reaching the point where violence ended and peace could begin.  If the situation on the ground was not ready, humanitarian efforts would be more difficult.  However, it was crucial to make efforts to bring all stakeholders to that point so that they would want that peace.


Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Norway and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


General Debate


BHAGWANT S. BISHNOI ( India) said that by the end of 2013, the global number of people internally displaced by armed conflict had grown to more than 33.2 million, a record, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.  While reaffirming India’s commitment to resolution 46/182, stipulating that humanitarian assistance must be in accordance with the principles of neutrality and impartiality, he emphasized that the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of States must also be fully respected.  Humanitarian assistance must be delivered with the consent of the affected country, he said, adding that India was steadfast in its commitment to Afghanistan and ready to assist in any humanitarian efforts there.


SALVADOR DE LARA RANGEL ( Mexico) said the period of preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit must be a time for analysis, reflection and definition of a coordination model that would meet the needs of the victims of conflict, disasters and other events that could generate a humanitarian crisis.  A model for timely and effective coordination must balance prevention and response efforts, while including local communities.  Coordinated and integrated efforts among various decision makers were essential to recovery efforts, and strategic associations with the social, business, scientific and industrial sectors could catalyse Government efforts.  The current coordination and response model could no longer be used in tackling the humanitarian crises arising from the situation in Syria.


SEBASTIANO CARDI ( Italy) said his country was engaged in humanitarian activities at the European level, noting that beginning in July, Italy would lead the Council of Europe’s Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid, which would provide an operative framework for the European Union’s humanitarian action.  Protection of vulnerable groups during emergencies would be a key topic for discussion, and there would also be a special focus on strengthening links with civil protection in disaster risk reduction, preparedness and humanitarian aid to victims of natural disasters.  Civil protection could serve as a testing ground for new technologies to reduce risks related to extreme weather events.


TINE MØRCH SMITH( Norway) said national Governments had a responsibility to protect and assist their own people during crises and if they weren’t able to, they must facilitate access for international aid.  However, as seen in Syria, hundreds of thousands of civilians were being deliberately denied medical and health care, and in the past five years, armed non-State, as well as State, military and security forces had attacked thousands in at least 70 countries around the world.  Solutions included more funding, a broader donor base and making humanitarian operations more efficient by ensuring rapid humanitarian assistance, unhindered by bureaucratic hurdles, and greater investment in disaster risk reduction and resilience.


BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said that statements by United Nations officials and some Member States about the humanitarian crisis in his country showed that not everyone wanted to find the root causes to the crisis.  Some Member States were directly feeding terrorist groups in Syria, and therefore, eliminating the root causes must include eliminating terrorism.  Delegates had not mentioned the terrorism in Syria at all, although their citizens were joining terrorist groups, he pointed out, recalling that Australia’s representative had recently expressed concerns over 150 of its citizens who had joined terrorist groups.  Additionally, a meeting convened in Brussels had addressed the issue of foreign fighters returning from Syria.  Unilateral measures had led to the humanitarian crises there and allowed the political pressure on the Government.  The lack of humanitarian funding was due to the weak coordination of organizations, not the Government.  No solution to the human crisis could be reached through political attacks and blaming the Government for allegedly hindering access.  Terrorism was hindering access, he stressed, adding that the most effective way to end the crisis was to put an end to the destructive behaviour of some Governments that were pretending to offer humanitarian aid.


OMAR HILALE ( Morocco) said the 52 million people needing aid in Africa reflected the seriousness of the humanitarian situation there, and the security of internally displaced persons was also of concern.  Humanitarian actors must uphold the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, and host countries must shoulder their commitments on refugees.  Verified and updated information was also critical.


DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation), while calling for strict compliance with the principles for delivering humanitarian assistance, as enshrined in resolution 46/182, said that some countries were manipulating humanitarian issues in order to exert pressure.  The Secretary-General’s report touched on the humanitarian impacts of explosive weapons, which had nothing to do with the mandate of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  If that issue was to be considered, then so must the use of unmanned aerial vehicles against civilians, he said, adding that such approaches compromised the work of United Nations, as well as the principles of humanity, neutrality and independence.


ANNA GEBREMEDHIN ( Finland), associating herself with the European Union, expressed hope that the recommendations of a study on environment and humanitarian action would be taken up by agencies and donors alike.  The coordination role of the United Nations was essential in addressing humanitarian crises.  Encouraging the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the cluster agencies to report regularly on achievements and challenges, she said her country supported preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit, adding that Hungary had invited Finland to co-host the European regional consultations.


TSHAMANO COMBRICK MILUBI (South Africa), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said humanitarian actions must be responsive to the specific needs of vulnerable populations, in particular women and children.  Fragile States warranted additional attention to ensure that they were not impacted by non-State actors.  There was also a need to strengthen disaster-preparedness and to incorporate the protection of women against sexual violence.


Mr. TALAVERA ( Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said resilience did not mean merely strengthening the Government, but having an organized civil society.  Governments with vulnerable populations must define policy and disaster risk management, with support from the international community.  Partnerships must be constructed from zero by identifying problems and seeking proper solutions.


DER KOGDA ( Burkina Faso) hailed the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of unprecedented crises.  Drawing attention to the Sahel, he said the situation had been exacerbated by the presence of 100,000 Malian refugees in neighbouring countries.  The transformative plan was a laudable initiative to strengthen the transparency of the Office’s actions.  For its part, Burkina Faso, in 1993, had established a national council for assistance and rehabilitation to prevent and reduce the impacts of humanitarian disasters.  It also had allocated $3 million to procure housing and survival materials for Malian refugees, who today numbered about 40,000.  He welcomed the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 as an opportunity to define a global humanitarian programme.


MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA ( Japan) regretted that the humanitarian community faced grave challenges, with the more than $16 billion in humanitarian appeals higher than ever.  Contributions to those appeals were concentrated in only a few donor countries.  In 2013, 10 countries, including Japan, had comprised more than 75 per cent of all humanitarian funding.  “We need to reform how the international community implements humanitarian assistance,” he said, calling for best practices and lessons learned.  He supported the holding of the World Humanitarian Summit.  Japan and Indonesia would co-host regional consultations in July, he said, noting that East Asia was the most disaster-prone region in the world.  Japan also would take part in discussions on the Summit’s four themes, highlighting gender perspective as a cross-cutting issue.


JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) urged countries to continue their efforts towards improving the effectiveness of international assistance when needed.  On a regional platform, New Zealand shared best practices on disaster management and risk reduction, as regional organizations were well placed to implement them. Around the world, civilians were suffering the most in conflict situations.  Addressing those situations and their humanitarian response should continue to top the international community’s agenda.  Further, delivery of humanitarian aid must be ensured without delay, and humanitarian aid workers must be protected.  Syria was a tragic example of what happened when access was denied.  His country would continue to support those in need.  Humanitarian aid was the litmus test of the United Nations’ credibility.  He looked forward to the World Humanitarian Summit, emphasizing that prevention was the first line of an international response.


SABRI BOUKADOUM ( Algeria), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said that initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance was the primary role of the concerned State.  Building national and local preparedness and response capacity was also critical for a more predictable and effective response.   He urged the United Nations and the international community to assist developing countries in enhancing their institutions and knowledge base.  It was vital to enhance coordination between humanitarian and development actors and he looked forward to the World Humanitarian Summit.


PETER LLOYD VERSEGI ( Australia) said there were more than 50 million people around the world who had been displaced due to conflict, persecution, drought and disasters.  He urged embracing the reform of the humanitarian system, building resilience, harnessing new partnerships — including with the private sector — and ensuring those efforts protected the most vulnerable.  He welcomed the World Humanitarian Summit as an opportunity to reshape the humanitarian system, noting that the Open Working Group of the Sustainable Development Goals considered disaster risk reduction integral to the post-2015 framework.  To reduce the impacts of disasters, resilience must be built through effective planning, technological innovation, risk management and asset protection, while working with regional and national partners to develop local response capacity.  He voiced deep concern at attacks on civilians and humanitarian personnel, stressing that all conflict parties must adhere to international humanitarian law.


Ms. ALVAREZ ( Cuba), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said humanitarian assistance should be carried out in full respect of the humanitarian principles and with the consent of the States concerned.  She also underlined the need to respect the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in State affairs.  The international community was obliged to help developing countries improve their response to natural disasters by providing official development assistance (ODA) to strengthen relevant national institutions.  There also should be greater access to resources and technology.  Governments’ central role in coordinating humanitarian assistance was essential.  For its part, Cuba had made progress in its normative and institutional plans, she said, citing a climate change programme and another on coastal vulnerability.  Success was based on anticipating adverse events and their impacts, she added.


Ms. CAUSENS (United States) said quality of data would strengthen understanding of needs and assessments in the context of humanitarian aid.  Enhanced coordination among all actors, including local stakeholders, was critical.  Voicing support for the “Rights up Front” initiative, she said that the lack of personal documents could lead to statelessness, while a lack of access to services was also concerning.  Efforts must be made to ensure that those in need received the necessary papers.  In addition, incidences of rape and sexual violence often spiked in conflicts, she said, stressing the importance of having health services, including mental health care, for survivors.  Innovation was also critical, she stressed, adding “we should always be seeking the best business model”.  Noting that internally displaced persons living in urban settings were less likely to receive assistance than those in camps, she said efforts must be made to correct that.  Remembering humanitarian workers who had lost their lives in the line of duty, she said that the international community owed its full adherence to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.


HAHN CHOONG-HEE (Republic of Korea) said that a smooth transition from relief to development should be facilitated from the very start of a crisis.  National ownership and participation were essential to an effective and sustainable transition, as was ensuring that recovery programmes considered the needs of the affected people and empowered local actors through technology transfer and know-how.  He called for more investment in disaster risk reduction and management, noting that less than 4 per cent of total humanitarian commitments over the last 10 years had funded prevention and preparedness, amid the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters.  He also called for a scaling up of humanitarian efforts for the Syrian people.  It had been three months since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), but the rise of violence in the country continued.  He urged all parties to that conflict to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian relief.


DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), associating with the Group of 77 and China, reaffirmed States’ role in initiating, organizing and delivering humanitarian assistance in their territories.  International assistance organizations and non-State actors had a key role in supporting those efforts and he called on United Nations humanitarian bodies to work in close coordination with the affected countries.  They should enhance their capacity, knowledge, expertise, as well as their interaction with stakeholders at all levels, including in the field.  Further, they should improve delivery coordination with affected States and stakeholders in ways that supported early recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.  The vulnerabilities underlying humanitarian crises must also be a focus, he said, urging a shift from a responsive to a preventive humanitarian paradigm.  Indonesia would co-host regional consultations for the World Humanitarian Summit.


PER ÖRNÉUS (Sweden), associating with the European Union, expressed concern at the situations in Syria, South Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as for the vulnerable populations in forgotten crises.  Sweden had strongly invested in coordination through its support to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Central Emergency Relief Fund and via humanitarian appeals.  On the United Nations’ coordinating role, he welcomed the focus on a new approach to programme cycle management, which should be a priority and involve refining needs assessments.  Different segments of affected populations had distinct needs according to gender, age and disabilities, and thus, different ways must be devised to address them.  Humanitarian and development actors also must work together to achieve results.  He voiced concern at violence against humanitarian workers and violations of international humanitarian law.


HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) said that unsolved, underfunded and forgotten crises had created protracted displacement, for which host countries needed to find long-term resources and solutions.  Many States lacked capacity to adequately respond to such emergencies, while others had been increasing their capacities and resources with a shift in paradigm that involved greater investment in resilience, risk management and preparedness efforts.  Turning to the Syrian crisis, he said Turkey had mobilized its resources to help Syrians fleeing the conflict, with more than 1 million seeking shelter in his country, at a cost nearing $3 billion.  He also pointed to the emergency in Iraq, with the humanitarian situation worsening as a result of the upsurge in violence.  Turkey was fulfilling its humanitarian responsibilities, both in its region and around the world, and was one of the few countries that had increased its humanitarian assistance in proportion to its economic growth.  By working through its own agencies, with low-cost overhead, aid delivery was more efficient, rapid and long-term oriented.


G. HOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran) said his country was committed to humanitarian assistance, with full adherence to the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence.  Particular attention should be paid to respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States.  He recalled the visit of the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in September 2013, where a joint statement had been signed between her and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister on partnership in humanitarian assistance.  His Government and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs were preparing to sign a joint action plan for drawing a road map in how best to respond to the humanitarian challenges ahead.


WANG HONGBO (China), associating with the Group of 77 and China, urged the use of new technologies, strengthening the coordination of efforts and addressing the root causes of humanitarian crises.  United Nations humanitarian assistance must adhere to the Charter and to General Assembly resolution 46/182, as well as respect the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity.  China opposed the politicization of humanitarian issues.  Emphasizing the central role of recipient Governments, she welcomed United Nations efforts to use new methods in relief work.  At the same time, there was a wide gap between developed and developing countries in that regard and the international community should provide financial and technology support.  The World Humanitarian Summit would be an opportunity to share best practices, and China looked forward to participating in that event.


MAGZHAN TOBAYAKOV (Kazakhstan) said his country hosted the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Office for the Caucasus and Central Asia, which covered eight countries and a land mass larger than Western Europe.  The region was highly prone to natural and human-made disasters.  Kazakhstan had consistently supported efforts to improve preparedness, with its expertise in mobilizing search teams, coordinating emergency response, and carrying out advocacy and capacity-building work — nationally and in other vulnerable regional countries.  It supported the Central Emergency Response Fund as an important tool to ensure predictable, adequate and timely funding.  Noting that Kazakhstan had moved from a recipient to a donor country, he said it had assisted such countries as Afghanistan, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan and others when they faced disasters, as well as contributed $500,000 to the Somalia Consolidated Fund.


SADIA FAIZUNNESA (Bangladesh), associating with the Group of 77 and China, noted the shift from response to resilience-building.  However, building trust and understanding between affected countries, their people and aid organizations was important.  Humanitarian aid must adhere to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, and sovereignty and integrity must be duly respected.  The segment had shown how poverty affected crisis response.  The humanitarian domain needed to consider that component in order to understand effective humanitarian aid.  It was also essential to enhance coordination and cooperation.  Capacity-building for national and local authorities was also critical.  There was no one-size-fits-all in building resilience, and all factors had to be noted.  Bangladesh was one of the top-three troop-contributing countries.  It was also hardest hit by natural disasters and the most vulnerable to climate change.  It was incorporating programmes to reduce risk and poverty, as well as food security.


Mr. MARIĆ (Serbia) said that due to recent flooding in his region, a state of emergency had been called.  According to official reports, 32,000 people had been rescued and 180,000 were in need of assistance.  The roads and infrastructure had been seriously damaged and land- and mudslides had made many roads impassable.  Many homes had been destroyed or damaged.  The Government had organized and coordinated all humanitarian assistance and aid.  However, its resources and efforts were not enough and it requested flood rescue teams, among other assistance.  Over a dozen countries from around the world participated, including member States of the European Union and the Russian Federation, and he expressed his most sincere gratitude for their help.


DRAGANA ANDELIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) stressed the principles of humanity, neutrality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance, reiterating the need for mainstreaming a gender perspective into such work.  Preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit were an opportunity to consider how to better respond to humanitarian situations.  Thanking the United Nations for its assistance as her country dealt with the worst natural disaster in the last 120 years, she highlighted the efficient cooperation of the Organization’s team with Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions in reducing the impacts of flooding.  Following the release of a damage assessment report, a donor conference would be held 16-17 July, in which the United Nations would participate.


MARÍA JOSÉ DEL ÁGUILA CASTILLO (Guatemala), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said some humanitarian crises stemmed from conflict, while others from natural disasters.  The millions of affected persons obliged a focus on how assistance was provided, she said, noting the collective need to solve prolonged crises.  Guatemala supported the holding of regional consultations ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit and would participate in those in 2015.  The causes of crises must be addressed, whether they were religious, sectarian or poverty-related.  Guatemala had worked to combat violence against women and girls, notably through a law against femicide.  In sum, the humanitarian system must respect humanitarian principles, while countries must provide unimpeded access to the aid workers.


Ms. STRUŸF (Netherlands) stressed that the cooperation of all United Nations agencies and other aid organizations was of paramount importance to efficient aid delivery, especially in the face of the growing need.  In 2013, funds had mainly gone to the crisis in Syria, whereas now there were several crises, including in South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Sahel region, and recently in Iraq.  More was needed now than ever, and she urged unimpeded access to those affected.  Further, any obstacle to aid constituted a violation of international law.  The upcoming World Humanitarian Summit could offer ways to make aid more effective while respecting core tenets of neutrality, impartiality and independence.


ADRIANA TELLES RIBEIRO (Brazil), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said that the humanitarian agenda, as demonstrated over the past three days, was much more encompassing.  In the case of Syria, she stressed that, in the absence of a political solution, military force would impact the most vulnerable, unarmed civilians.  Brazil had been contributing to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to assist the refugees and was supporting the population in Syria through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.  The United Nations, she concluded, should address the issue of drone technology, as they were remote-controlled killing machines, which, among other things, violated air sovereignty.


ABDULLAH ALSHARRAH (Kuwait) supported international plans to ensure humanitarian assistance delivery.  He urged the creation of favourable conditions for such work, which included safety, stability and an end to conflicts that squandered human and financial resources.  Kuwait had hosted two international donor conferences to address the situation in Syria, he said, reaffirming the importance of global efforts to create peace in the Middle East, notably by resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The international community should work to ensure that all peoples exercised their rights, he said, underlining the importance of coordination in fulfilling the needs of affected States and urging redoubled efforts in that regard.  Countries affected by conflict and disasters must be able to access funding and he called for fulfilling aid pledges.


Mr. BONAMY, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said millions of internally displaced persons were largely beyond the reach of humanitarian aid, often left to cope without adequate food and water.  The collective response had fallen short.  Governments must be more effective in preventing and resolving conflict, and support enhanced protection of civilians in order to stem the rising numbers of internally displaced persons.  That required greater compliance with international humanitarian law, which prohibited arbitrary displacement.  Humanitarian actors could play only a subsidiary role in such work.


MARWAN JILANI, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said building resilience required long-term approaches across sectors and among all stakeholders, as well as breaking out of “sectoral silos” and ensuring that disaster risk reduction was integrated into the post-2015 development agenda.  Legal frameworks were a critical tool for Governments to shape their plans to reduce the human impact of natural hazards.  Today, IFRC would launch a report of 31 country laws, the largest comparative study on that topic.  It aimed to provide legislators, public administrators and development practitioners with support in their work to implement effective disaster risk management frameworks.


LEA MATHESON, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said affected populations must be at the centre of the humanitarian response, stressing: “We must take care not to become overburdened by processes and systems.”  Efforts should always be needs- rather than mandate-driven.  In crises that led to large migration flows, the response must consider the specific needs of migrants, whether they were refugees, internally displaced persons or economic migrants.  In that connection, she said the Migration Crisis Operational Framework had improved the way IOM supported States’ responses.  She also cited the importance of collaboration, notably by linking humanitarian and development action.


YASMIN HAQUE, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said children faced a broad array of protection challenges, noting that in the Central African Republic, they were experiencing a profound — and deepening — tragedy, with entire communities destroyed and terrorized.  Support for child protection efforts was critical, as was addressing violations of children’s rights through the reintegration of those involved in the conflict, referral of abuse survivors to health and justice services, and the application of tough advocacy to compel perpetrators to align their practices with international child right standards.  Child protection was far too often under-resourced, she added, noting that in 2013, only 8 per cent of global requests for resources had been funded.


The representative of Greece, responding to remarks made by the representative of Serbia, recalled that, in line with Security Council resolution 817 (1993) and General Assembly resolution 47/225 (1993), States should use the proper name of “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” when referring to that country.


Closing Remarks


Ms. AMOS, in closing remarks, noted the 26 informal side events that had covered the wide range of issues under discussion.  She said the segment demonstrated stakeholders’ eagerness to work effectively together.  The average length of displacement at 17 years was a call to the United Nations to translate commitment into action.  “After every atrocity, we say never again,” she said.  With the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, the international community had the unique opportunity to reform the way it worked.


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For information media • not an official record