With the humanitarian response system often unable to pull together the right combination of resources and expertise in a timely manner, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for improved coordination, under the United Nations, of emergency assistance that taps into existing local skills and more efficient use of resources deployed in a predictable manner.
In a new report to the 2005 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Mr. Annan draws on the UN’s recent experiences dealing with threats to human security to offer recommendations on how to strengthen the coordination of the Organization’s emergency humanitarian assistance, which he says has faced particularly challenging “capacity gaps” over the past year.
From the ongoing violence in Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to natural disasters such as the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, and locust plagues in 10 different West and North African countries, he asserts that while the world’s humanitarian system has considerable resources, such assets would be more efficiently used if they were deployed under or coordinated with the UN and not “run under their own steam.”
“The United Nations should improve its ability to make the best use of humanitarian capacity at different levels, including regional capacity, by working out procedures where they can be deployed in a consistent manner to the benefit of affected populations,” Mr. Annan says.
He adds that procedures should be strengthened for the use and coordination of military assets, as well as to bolster support for UN resident/humanitarian coordinators and country teams.
The report also stresses the need to observe humanitarian principles in peacebuilding missions, with Mr. Annan recommending that guidelines be enhanced so that mission officials have a clear responsibility for maintaining oversight of all quick-impact projects and “heart and minds activities” that could have an impact on humanitarian action.