WITHOUT VOTE, ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON CONSOLIDATION OF NEW, RESTORED DEMOCRACIES

27 November 2000
GA/9831

WITHOUT VOTE, ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON CONSOLIDATION OF NEW, RESTORED DEMOCRACIES

27 November 2000

Press ReleaseGA/9831

WITHOUT VOTE, ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON CONSOLIDATION OF NEW, RESTORED DEMOCRACIES

20001127

Begins Debate on Strengthening of UN Humanitarian, Disaster Relief

By the terms of a resolution it adopted without a vote this morning, the General Assembly encouraged Member States to promote democratization and to make additional efforts to identify possible steps to support the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies. The Assembly’s adoption of that text concluded its consideration of support by the United Nations system for the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

The Assembly will invite the Secretary-General, Member States, the relevant specialized agencies, programmes, funds and other bodies of the United Nations system, as well as other intergovernmental organizations, to collaborate in the holding of the Fourth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, to be held in Cotonou, Benin, from 4 to 6 December.

Also this morning, the Assembly took up consideration of strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.

Mexico’s representative said that while humanitarian assistance was one of the noblest expressions of human solidarity, it was better to prevent than to remedy. Development was the best deterrent for conflicts, and, at the same time, the best defence against the ravages of natural disasters. Strengthening international cooperation for development, therefore, remained the highest priority.

Humanitarian assistance was a complex task, requiring real and definite parameters, he said. It was essential in that regard that there be full respect for the sovereignty of States, and that action should always be taken at the request or with the consent of the recipient State. In recent years, there had been an increase in the impact of natural disasters in numbers, victims, and the scale of damage caused. That had forged a growing awareness of international solidarity, and pointed towards the need to move on from merely reacting to disasters to a comprehensive strategy of sustainable development and efforts to prevent and reduce natural disaster effects, such as early warning, emergency mitigation and reconstruction.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9831 71st Meeting (AM) 27 November 2000

The representative of Tajikistan, introducing a draft resolution on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation of Tajikistan, said more coordination in humanitarian assistance was needed. Humanitarian multilateral assistance should not compete with bilateral assistance. Both needed to be part of a single whole, and inter-agency appeals must be taken into account. The increase in the incidence of natural and other disasters had placed new demands on the international community, and one priority was effective use of the most advanced technologies for dealing with catastrophes. That could be facilitated by a comprehensive inventory of the available technologies on a national, international and regional level.

With regard to sanctions, he said it was important to maintain neutrality, impartiality, a lack of political conditions and respect for sovereignty. Sanctions must be governed in accordance with international law and the law of the country that had suffered the disasters. There was a need for a humanitarian approach to sanctions, and they needed to be targeted. They should not be applied to foodstuffs, medicines or other emergency supplies.

The representative of Canada said an effective reaction to crises which, over the last couple of years, had tested the Organization’s ability, was of vital importance, and would impact the life-and-death situation of millions of people in need. Armed conflicts, floods, drought, earthquakes, among other calamities, were crises in which people frequently had their first contact with the United Nations.

Regarding the protection of civilian victims of conflict, he said the Assembly needed to address the underlying causes of conflict and to help create conditions for sustainable peace and reconciliation. The Assembly could help through promoting humanitarian rights law, encouraging respect of international humanitarian law and principles, and ending impunity. Civilians were increasingly becoming targets in armed conflicts, and those providing protection and assistance to them were also likely to find themselves under attack. Humanitarian workers needed protection but also proper training, and they needed to be provided with enhanced United Nations security resources to ensure that assaults were investigated and prosecuted.

The representatives of Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Venezuela, Norway, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Pakistan, South Africa, Japan, Mongolia, Russian Federation and India also spoke. The representative of Poland spoke in explanation of vote.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its debate.

General Assembly Plenary - 2 - Press Release GA/9831 71st Meeting (AM) 27 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly met this morning to conclude its consideration of support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies, and to start consideration of strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.

Support by United Nations System of Efforts of Governments To Promote and Consolidate New or Restored Democracies

The General Assembly had before it a draft resolution (document A/55/L.32/Rev.1) sponsored by Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States, Uruguay and Yemen, on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly would invite the Secretary-General, Member States, the relevant specialized agencies, programmes, funds and other bodies of the United Nations system, as well as other intergovernmental organizations, to collaborate in the holding of the Fourth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies.

By the same terms, the Assembly would stress that activities undertaken by the Organization must be in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and would encourage the Secretary-General to continue to improve the capacity of the Organization to respond effectively to the requests of Member States through coherent, adequate support of their efforts to achieve the goals of good governance and democratization. The Assembly would encourage Member States to promote democratization and to make additional efforts to identify possible steps to support the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

Strengthening of Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of United Nations

The General Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/82) on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The report states that the past year has been marked by emergencies in which the predicted worst case scenario was far surpassed in terms of the number and scale of complex emergencies and natural disasters that once against wrought devastation in some of the poorest places on Earth.

The report makes several recommendations and observations on coordinated response to natural disasters and complex emergencies, protection of civilians in armed conflict, the role of technology and coordinated response to crises of displacement. The report urges Member States to commit adequate resources to humanitarian operations through multilateral channels, encourages Member States to stimulate support for emergency response from private corporations, including by providing tax relief for such activities, and encourages United Nations agencies and departments to strengthen existing early warning, preventive and preparedness mechanisms and to engage the active participation of the United Nations country-teams in that respect.

The report states that the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council may wish to welcome Security Council resolution 1261 (1999) and the initiative to place child protection advisers in peace operations as a way of ensuring consistent attention to the protection of children through the peace consolidation process; to encourage partnerships among the governments of countries affected, humanitarian agencies and specialized companies to promote the use of technologies for humanitarian operations, including for the safety and security of humanitarian personnel; and to urge Member States to remove or suspend restrictions on the use of technology during sudden-onset emergencies.

The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council may also wish, according to the report, to reiterate that the primary responsibility for protection of and assistance to civilians in crises of internal displacement lies with the national authorities of the affected countries; to appeal to all governments and local authorities in countries affected by internal displacement to extend full cooperation and access to the agencies of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in their efforts to bring help to the displaced; and to urge donors to ensure adequate financial support for international activities on behalf of the internally displaced, including activities for strengthening their protection, and for promoting self-sustainability and durable solutions.

The General Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on safety and security of United Nations personnel (document A/55/494), which was submitted pursuant to resolutions 54/192 of 17 December 1999 and 54/429 of 23 December 1999. The report contains an outline of the threats against United Nations personnel, a comprehensive description of the existing security management structure and proposals to enhance the safety and security of staff. It is prepared in consultation with the members of the Administrative Committee on Coordination and covers the period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000.

According to the report, the current security management is designed to meet the operational requirements of the United States system which existed 20 years ago, with the result that, from 1 January 1992 to 18 September 2000, 198 staff members were killed and some 240 have been taken hostage or kidnapped since 1 January 1994. The Secretary-General points out that United Nations personnel have had to work in difficult and dangerous situations and have increasingly become victims of the environments in which they operate. The purpose of the United Nations security system is “to protect the protectors”, but regrettably, it is currently not able to adequately fulfil its responsibilities despite the best efforts and dedication of all those involved. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have focused attention on the issue of the security of staff. The Assembly reiterated that the primary responsibility under international law for the protection of United Nations personnel lay with host governments, and urged all parties involved in armed conflict to ensure the security of humanitarian personnel. For its part, the Council had held an open debate on the protection of staff on 9 February, in which the Deputy Secretary-General outlined efforts to improve the security management system while at the same time calling on Member States to provide the necessary support.

The report discusses the many threats to United Nations system personnel, including negative statements by senior officials, sometimes inciting people to violence against staff members. Kidnapping and hostage-taking incidents were reported, as well as occupying United Nations system offices; for example, in Afghanistan, the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were stormed by mobs eight times during a one-week period as a result of a protest against the Organization. Criminality and the presence of mines were other threats that staff members faced. The Secretary-General said, “to date only 3 of the 177 cases involving the violent death of United Nations system personnel have been brought to justice”.

While the Secretary-General, as Chief Executive Officer of the Organization, is responsible for ensuring the protection of staff members and their dependants, he depends upon the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator for all policy and procedural matters related to security. The Office, which was created in 1988, consists of nine Professional and four General Service staff members, who are expected to coordinate security at 150 duty States. The current level of staff is clearly inadequate to meet the minimum requirements for the large number of staff assigned. Moreover, the operating budget for the Office of the Security Coordinator totals $650,880. In 1998, a trust for the security of staff members of the United Nations system was established; since 1 August, contributions had been received from the Governments of Finland ($102,000), Japan ($1 million), Monaco ($8,500) and Norway ($100,000).

In the view of the Secretary-General, the existing system, which relies on unpredictable and piecemeal funding and outdated, cumbersome and complex procedures, is not suited for the difficult and dangerous situations in which United Nations personnel are obliged to work. The report calls for proposals to strengthen the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator at Headquarters for the biennium 2002-2003, including 18 Professional staff members and appropriate support staff as well as increasing the number of field security officer positions from 60 to 100. The Secretary-General’s estimation of the total cost of these proposals is approximately $30 million per year.

Before the Assembly was a resolution on international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters from relief to development (document A/55/L.38), sponsored by China, Mexico and Nigeria.

By the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would stress that humanitarian assistance for natural disasters should be provided in accordance with and with due respect for the guiding principles contained in the annex to resolution 46/182, and should be determined on the basis of the human dimension and needs arising out of particular natural disasters. It would also stress the importance of strengthening international cooperation in the provision of humanitarian assistance for all phases from relief to development, including through the provision of adequate resources.

The Assembly would invite Member States to consider developing a framework for international humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural disasters, outlining the responsibilities of countries receiving and providing support.

Further to the draft resolution, the Assembly would stress the need for partnership among governments of the affected countries, relevant humanitarian organizations and specialized companies to promote the transfer and use of technologies to strengthen preparedness and response to natural disasters, and calls for the transfer of required technologies to developing countries on concessional and preferential terms.

The Assembly would also encourage governments in natural disaster-prone countries to establish, with the support of the donor community, national spatial information infrastructure relating to natural disaster preparedness, response and mitigation, including the necessary training of personnel.

Further to the draft resolution, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to prepare recommendations on how to improve the United Nations potential to mitigate natural disasters, including through the development of an inventory of existing capacities at the national, regional and international levels.

The Secretary-General would also be requested to continue to consider innovative mechanisms to improve the international response to natural disasters, through addressing any geographical and sectoral imbalances in such a response where they exist, as well as a more effective use of national emergency response agencies, taking into account their comparative advantages and specializations, as well as existing arrangements.

Special Economic Assistance to Individual Countries or Regions

The General Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/90) on assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Liberia. After the inauguration of the elected Government of Liberia, headed by Charles G. Taylor, the Government launched the National Reconstruction Programme to address critical needs arising from the conflict and to lay the foundations for sustainable long-term goals. The Programme identified the government’s priority areas as the consolidation of peace and democracy, resettlement, reintegration and active participation of the people, and rebuilding the physical, social and institutional infrastructure that had been virtually destroyed during the conflict.

The report focuses on the specific actions taken in the field of governance, security and the rule of law; macro-economic performance; humanitarian assistance, resettlement, repatriation and reintegration; health; education; community revival and restoration; food security; gender concerns and major challenges facing the country. The report states that there is a dire need for greater recognition of the post-conflict challenges facing Liberia and the subregion, within the international community in general and among the major donors in particular.

The report recommends that the General Assembly reaffirm its resolution 53/1, expressing gratitude to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the major donor countries, and the Bretton Woods institutions for their continuing efforts towards building sustainable peace in the subregion and calling for further support for rehabilitation and reconstruction effort in Liberia, while reaffirming its support for the United Nations system collaboration and dialogue with the Government of Liberia in the fields of human rights, national reconciliation, peace-building, and the strengthening of the rule of law.

The report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/92) on emergency economic assistance to the Comoros states that 46 per cent of households, or around 50.6 per cent of the population of the Comoros, one of the group of least developed countries, is living below the poverty line. Whereas, in light of the growing population, the State should be expanding the educational infrastructure and taking steps to create jobs, in fact, it has been forced for almost 10 years to pursue a policy of curbing budgetary spending and cutting public sector staff. The social sector has been particularly hard hit.

Since 1997, according to the report, the Comoros has been torn by a separatist crisis, which was coupled with a political crisis following the military coup d'etat on 30 April 1999. This has prompted most of the country’s development partners to withdraw or to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. The country also missed the opportunity to hold a donors' round table. The political context has been marked by institutional instability and has not facilitated the introduction of a suitable framework for consultation to mobilize donors and maintain assistance.

The report suggests that resolution 53/1 F of 16 November 1998, concerning special emergency economic assistance to the Comoros, be referred to the Economic and Social Council with a view to initiating a reconstruction and rehabilitation programme so as to lay the groundwork for national economic recovery on a sound basis. This is a prerequisite for the establishment of lasting peace and harmony and reconciliation among the islands.

The report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/123-E/2000/89) on assistance to Mozambique following the devastating flood states that the floods in February and March in southern Mozambique triggered a massive outpouring of international support. The emergency hit a country which is among the 10 poorest of the world and affected 12.1 per cent of the population.

According to the report, Mozambique already had a disaster management system into which the United Nations system could feed, but the disaster was of a magnitude far beyond anything with which the Government could reasonably have expected to cope. The United Nations system showed it could mobilize support quickly and yet was able to work with and through the Government. Lessons learned will provide the Government and the United Nations valuable information for better preparedness, response and improved coordination mechanisms in the future. The unusually strong Government/United Nations partnership will be embraced in future initiatives.

The General Assembly also had before it a report from the Secretary- General (document A/55/124) on assistance to Madagascar following the tropical cyclones. Tropical Cyclone Elaine and Tropical Storm Gloria struck Madagascar within three weeks in February, followed by the very severe Tropical Cyclone Hudah. The successive onslaught of these three cataclysms caused significant damage to the agricultural, health, educational and public infrastructures, as well as loss of human life.

The report focuses on the impact of the three disasters, the impact on economic conditions and food security in the affected areas, impact on availability of basic social services, structural constraints and difficulties facing intervention in the affected regions; the response by agencies of the United Nations system, the Government and donors; and the prospects for rapid and durable reconstruction.

The Secretary-General's report (document A/55/125-E/200091) on international assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Nicaragua: aftermath of the war and natural disaster, states that at the Consultative Group for Nicaragua meeting held in Washington, D.C. on 23 and 24 May, the sound economic performance of Nicaragua during the biennium 1998-99, with economic growth and decreasing inflation, was emphasized. There was a general agreement that combating poverty is the most important development goal for the Country. The floods and mudslides of Hurricane Mitch (October 1998) killed over 3,000 Nicaraguans and affected nearly 20 per cent of the nation's population.

The report's chapter on consolidation of democracy covers human rights, solution of property conflicts, and strengthening of the rule of law. A chapter on demobilization, reintegration and reconstruction of municipalities focuses on landmines, productive reintegration of ex-combatants, and reintegration of Nicaraguans in exile. Regarding natural disaster prevention and management, the report states that although Nicaragua is frequently affected by natural disasters, it lacks a permanent disaster prevention and handling system. With the passing in April of a modern, decentralized, participatory and realistic law, Nicaragua became the first Central American nation to move towards an integrated disaster prevention and response system.

The report also covers decentralization and local development, population, women's rights and sexual and reproductive health, and environmental management.

The Assembly had a report by the Secretary-General on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/55/212). The report consists of information on the institutional framework for the Semipalatinsk Relief and Rehabilitation Programme, the Tokyo International Conference on Semipalatinsk and donor assistance to the health, humanitarian, economic and environmental sectors of the Semipalatinsk region.

The Tokyo International Conference on Semipalatinsk had the following objectives: to raise the awareness of the international community; to appeal to the international community for further assistance to meet the urgent needs; to consider possible cooperation and coordination of the international community and to exchange technical knowledge and experience in the areas of health, ecology, economic rehabilitation and humanitarian support and to inform participants of the institutional arrangements of Kazakhstan to manage, coordinate and account for international assistance.

The Conference conveyed three important messages aimed at improving the effectiveness of the health and medical care provided to the population of the Semipalatinsk region. First, there was a need to improve the scientific evidence to be used as a basis for determining priorities and taking action. Second, there was a need for transparency and accountability, including an improved communication strategy and involvement with the public, as well as better coordination of all national and international participants in the action. And finally, the handling of the health-related consequences of people affected by nuclear testing should be seen as part of the broader public health strategy and reforms in Kazakhstan and should be balanced with other health needs in the region, including mother and child health, reproductive, environmental and mental health, and communicable disease prevention.

The report states that, during the last two years, the international donor community has given considerable attention and delivered humanitarian and development assistance to the affected populations of the Semipalatinsk region. However, because of the longer-term effects of radiation, as well as the consequences of nuclear explosions, the population remains exceptionally vulnerable and is not in a position to meet the economic, social and ecological challenges of the ongoing transition process. The report stresses the importance of addressing the compelling needs of the affected population, prioritized in the Semipalatinsk Relief and Rehabilitation Programme of the Government of Kazakhstan and emphasized by the participants at the Tokyo International Conference on Semipalatinsk. The initiatives of the government, complemented by the support of the international donor community, can help to improve the situation of the affected population.

There was also a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/317) on assistance to Mozambique. The report states that the dramatic economic and political recovery of Mozambique after the end of the 16-year civil conflict continued in 1999. For Mozambique, 1999 was the year in which it laid the foundation for a take-off that, in the absence of unforeseen shocks, should eventually remove it from the group of the poorest countries in the world. On the political front, the second successful multiparty election confirmed that Mozambique is on the path to parliamentary democracy. Results of both the first-ever national poverty assessment and the first post-war census were published in 1999, with both making clear the depth of the problems to be faced in the development of a comprehensive poverty programme.

Mozambique remains one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, where 69 per cent of all Mozambicans live in absolute poverty. The recovery of Mozambique from such devastation in the relatively short time of seven years is considered remarkable, but the country’s economy remains extremely fragile. However, the post-war reconstruction has still not been completed.

The report contains information on the political context, including multiparty elections, political development, land law and peasant rights. The report also provides information on the economic context, including privatization and investment, macroeconomic trends and action to reduce poverty. There is a section on HIV/AIDS and an overview of United Nations initiatives. The report also consists of an update on initiatives, including three strategic objectives. These objectives include the increase of access to, and quality of, basic social services and employment; the fostering of an enabling environment for sustainable human development; and a culture of peace and the promotion of sustainable management of natural resources.

There was also a report by the Secretary-General (document A/55/319) on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The present report describes the financial and material assistance provided by the United Nations system to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in its economic recovery and reconstruction process. The country is the third largest in Africa, bordering with nine other countries. For more than four years, the country has been experiencing a major crisis due to a succession of wars.

The latest war, which continues even today, interrupted the process of democratization which had begun to show signs of reviving as a result of the change of political regime in May 1997. The protagonists in this war are the country's neighbours in the east -- Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda -- in a loose alliance with rebels now divided into three different and rival factions, and the Congolese Government supported, at its request, by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

At the initiative of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), a ceasefire agreement was signed in Lusaka on July 10 1999. Unfortunately, little headway has been made with implementation of the above-mentioned agreement due, on the one hand, to the various difficulties created by the belligerents and between allies -- the most blatant being the confrontation that occurred between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in Kisangani from 5 to 10 June 2000 -- and on the other hand, to the rejection by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of the facilitator designated for the inter-Congolese dialogue.

The current armed conflict, which extends over more than half the national territory, has thwarted most of the efforts to stabilize and revive the national economy, reversed the nation's reconstruction priorities and blocked all attempts by the new government to restore structured international cooperation.

The report focuses on the level of production, including the inflation and exchange rate, the monetary situation, external debt and official development assistance, and the social and humanitarian situation. The report also provides information about the economic measures and the situation and challenges relating to governance. Furthermore, the report focuses on the situation and challenges of sustainable economic and human development, and the cooperation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Nations.

The report concludes that the determination of the United Nations to ensure the rapid departure of foreign armed forces from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a great source of hope for the return to a situation of lasting peace. In order to overcome the impending crisis, substantial assistance from the international community will have to accompany the country's reconstruction efforts, consistent with the priority themes outlined in the previous report. Once again, they were: peace, security and reconciliation; preparing a stabilization, reconstruction and recovery strategy; and the resumption of structural cooperation.

The General Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/333) on emergency assistance to countries affected by Hurricanes José and Lenny. In October and November 1999, several small island developing States and territories of the eastern Caribbean were struck by Hurricanes José and Lenny. International, regional and national response efforts were mobilized in support of the affected countries, many of which suffered extensive damage. The report provides an account of the extent of the damages and destruction caused by the hurricanes, the response of the international community and that of the governments of the countries affected, as well as the assessment of efforts by the governments of the Caribbean region as a whole to deal with such occurrences.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General (A/55/347) on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation in Tajikistan. The report was submitted pursuant to paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 54/96 of 8 December 1999 and covers the period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000.

The main provisions of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan have been implemented, and the transition period ended with the first multiparty parliamentary election and the first session of the professional parliament, which was held earlier this year. The United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) should be regarded as a successful peacekeeping operation.

Tajikistan had now entered a new phase of post-conflict peace-building. This process is still affected, however, by problems such as organized crime, drug trafficking, the need to promote and protect human rights, unresolved refugee problems and the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan. The extreme poverty faced by 80 per cent of the population renders the achievements of the peace process extremely vulnerable.

The report stresses that Tajikistan needs to receive more than exclusively humanitarian aid. Sustained economic growth is the key to maintaining peace and stability in Tajikistan, and the programme of economic and social recovery requires urgent international development assistance. The United Nations Tajikistan Office for Peace-building was established in June 2000 for an initial period of one year to pursue the objectives of post-conflict peace-building. It will help mobilize international support for the implementation of programmes aimed at strengthening the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights, demobilization, voluntary arms collection and employment creation for irregular fighters. Furthermore, the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the civil war seriously affected the economic viability of the newly independent Tajikistan. The delivery of basic social services has deteriorated and living standards have continued to decline. As a result, Tajikistan’s economy requires urgent support.

Part IV of the report refers to humanitarian operations and contains sections on security developments affecting humanitarian relief efforts, activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), relief food assistance, agriculture support, refugee repatriation and support, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, child protection, rehabilitation and development, and drug control and abuse. The report contains further sections on international assistance and concluding observations.

A report of the Secretary-General on humanitarian assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (document A/55/416) covers developments from 1 July 1999 until 30 June 2000. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia consists of the Republics of Serbia (including Central Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina) and Montenegro.

According to the report, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia hosts the largest refugee population in Europe, with over 500,000 from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Since June 1999, there has been an additional influx of displaced persons, mainly Serbs and Roma, from Kosovo to the rest of Serbia and Montenegro. In 1999, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia showed a sharp economic decline, exacerbated by infrastructural damage during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) campaign and economic sanctions. The gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 32 per cent in 1998-1999. The social services capacity in the Republic significantly decreased, and the educational system is also rapidly declining. The social welfare system is facing serious problems. With the trade restrictions imposed on Montenegro in early 2000, the relationship between Serbia and Montenegro continued to deteriorate.

In Kosovo, the stability of the social situation differs markedly by region. The scope and quality of social services is gradually improving. The industrial and manufacturing sectors of the province, which accounted for about one third of pre-crisis GDP, were heavily damaged during the air strikes. Prospects for their rehabilitation are in doubt.

The human rights crisis within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has deepened as political tensions escalate. The majority of the population is now considered to be vulnerable to violations of their basic human rights. Trafficking of persons has increased the number of persons who remain unaccounted for as a result of the regional crisis.

The report describes assistance provided by the United Nations and its partners in the area of coordination arrangements, winterization efforts, food aid, shelter, health, water and sanitation, education and child welfare, agriculture, promotion of durable solutions, environmental damage, mine action and human rights. It also describes assistance provided by Member States.

The report concludes that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is expected to face significant humanitarian challenges for the foreseeable future. For Serbia, the immediate future is likely to be characterized by continued deterioration of its economy. In Montenegro, it is unlikely that the government will be able to take over the responsibility for all humanitarian caseloads in the near future. International support will continue to be needed for delivery of assistance, protection, advocacy and assessment of needs, so that the humanitarian requirements of both the displaced and social cases can be consistently addressed. The provision of humanitarian assistance in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should be based on the needs of the most vulnerable groups, without political conditionality.

Among the report's conclusions is the observation that the international community has scored impressive achievements in Kosovo. As the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) takes over basic public services, the remaining assistance programmes of international humanitarian agencies are expected to focus on protection and the provision of goods and services to minority populations. The goal of promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence among ethnic groups has so far proven elusive. The return of all displaced persons must remain a top priority. At the same time, it must be recognized that it may take many years to overcome the bitter resentment and mistrust engendered by recent events in Kosovo. This will require a sustained and determined effort by all concerned, not least by the people of Kosovo themselves.

Finally, the United Nations remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Until the underlying political and economic problems can be resolved, the Organization will continue its efforts to address the urgent needs of the affected populations.

The Assembly had a report of the Secretary-General on humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development for East Timor (document A/55/418), covering developments immediately prior and subsequent to the passing of Security Council resolution 1272 (1999) of 25 October 1999, establishing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) with three components: governance and public administration; humanitarian assistance and emergency rehabilitation; and military. On 8 November 1999, Sergio Vieira de Mello was appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in East Timor and Transitional Administrator.

According to the report, the outbreak of violence in the aftermath of the Popular Consultation of 30 August 1999 resulted in widespread destruction and the internal and external displacement of 75 per cent of the population. The establishment of the multinational peacekeeping force (INTERFET) resulted in the restoration of a secure working environment. In order to address emergency needs, the humanitarian community agreed upon a series of common guidelines for priority intervention, which served as the basis for activities of more than 200 humanitarian actors. Priorities were, among other things: to assist refugees’ return from West Timor; to ensure food security; and to facilitate community development and economic recovery through emergency repairs to infrastructure. The guiding principles also provided for the transfer of sectoral coordination responsibilities to UNTAET, now complete.

The report reviews major humanitarian developments and describes sector requirements and assistance provided by the United Nations and its partners such as food security, health, education, repatriation of refugees, cooperation between civilian partners and the military, coordination, and community development, economic recovery and rehabilitation.

The report concludes that the difficulties presented by the massive displacement and widespread destruction have been overcome, in large part, owing to the rapid and generous response of donors. The humanitarian community was able to provide the necessary assistance at an early enough stage to prevent the deterioration of the physical condition of the population. Those factors, along with the resilience and determination of the East Timorese people, have militated against the creation of a dependency cycle and have contributed to the maintenance of human dignity among the East Timorese. Also important for the transition from relief to development has been an acknowledgement by all humanitarian partners that the focus must be on rehabilitation and development issues.

The report states that the continuing engagement of the international community will be required for the foreseeable future in all sectors in order to ensure that the programmes continue to benefit the people of East Timor and pave the way to self-reliance and sustainable development.

Before the Assembly was also a report by the Secretary-General on economic assistance to the Eastern European States affected by the developments in the Balkans (document A/55/620). In its resolution 54/96 G of 15 December 1999, the Assembly expressed concern at the special economic problems confronting the Eastern European States, in particular, the impact of developments in the Balkans on their regional trade and economic relations, and on navigation along the Danube and on the Adriatic Sea. The Assembly stressed the importance of implementation of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe.

Describing responses from States, the United Nations system and the affected States, the report concludes that economic assistance has been carried out against the background of numerous political and economic complexities. Apart from the adverse effects of military conflicts, economic sanctions and other disruptions during the transition period following the disintegration of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Kosovo crisis produced a devastating impact on the fragile economies of South-Eastern Europe and beyond.

The report notes that, with broad-based international support, the affected countries have embarked on a difficult path towards economic and social reform and recovery, including special efforts to fully overcome the consequences of the Kosovo crisis. The democratic changes in Yugoslavia have paved the way for the cessation of the country's international isolation and the resumption of regional cooperation. However, ensuring a lasting stability and sustainable development of South-eastern Europe is a long-term and difficult process, requiring continued and concerted efforts of the countries of the region and the international development actors.

At the regional level, particular attention has to be paid to such fields as infrastructure reconstruction, including the resumption of navigation on the Danube, private sector development, trade integration, investment promotion and institutional capacity-building. The relevant components of the United Nations system continue to implement substantial programmes of financial and technical assistance in the affected countries. For Kosovo, a series of emergency measures and activities has been carried out to address the regional consequences of the Kosovo crisis, as a result of economic and social constraints caused by large numbers of refugees and displaced persons, as well as disruptions in trade, transport and foreign investment in the neighbouring and other affected countries.

The report states that, within the evolving regional priorities, continued donor support, participation of regional development and investment banks and private-sector involvement would be essential for developing cross-border cooperation, upgrading infrastructure and promoting trade and investment in the Balkans as an integral part of Europe. The neighbouring and other affected countries should be encouraged to participate more actively in international cooperation and support for reconstruction, recovery and development efforts in the region.

The report concludes that the implementation process of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, especially the activities of its Working Table on Economic Reconstruction, Cooperation and Development, provides an essential mechanism for promoting structural reforms, sustainable development, intraregional economic cooperation and integration of South-Eastern Europe into the European mainstream as an important contribution to peace, stability and prosperity in the Balkan region and beyond.

Before the Assembly was a resolution (document A/55/L.16) on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region, sponsored by Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. By the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would stress the need for continuing international attention and extra efforts in solving problems with regard to the Semipalatinsk region and its population.

The Assembly would also urge the international community to provide assistance in the formulation and implementation of special programmes and projects of treatment and care for the affected population in the Semipalatinsk region.

By the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would also invite all States, relevant multilateral financial organizations and other entities of the international community, including NGOs, to share their knowledge and experience in order to contribute to the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region, and would invite, in particular, donor States, relevant organs and organizations of the United Nations system, including the funds and programmes, to participate in the rehabilitation of the Semipalatinsk region.

The Assembly would also invite the Secretary-General to pursue a consultative process, with the participation of interested States and relevant United Nations agencies, on modalities for mobilizing the necessary support to seek appropriate solutions to the problems and needs of the Semipalatinsk region.

Further to the draft resolution, the Assembly would call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to enhance world public awareness of the problems and needs of the Semipalatinsk region.

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution (document A/55/L.35) on emergency assistance to Belize, sponsored by Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

By the draft, the General Assembly would urge Member States, as a matter of urgency, to contribute to the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of Belize in the wake of Hurricane Keith. Further to the draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the international financial institutions, bodies and agencies of the United Nations system, to assist the Government of Belize in identifying medium- and long-term needs and in mobilizing resources, as well as to help with the efforts of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the affected areas of Belize.

The General Assembly had before it a draft resolution (document A/55/L.36) on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sponsored by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India and Mauritania.

By the draft, the General Assembly would urge all parties concerned in the region to cease all military activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which breaches the ceasefire provided for in the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and the Kampala disengagement plan. It would urge them to fully implement those agreements and create the conditions necessary for the speedy and peaceful resolution of the crisis, and urge all parties to engage in a process of political dialogue and negotiation.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would renew its invitation to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate with the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other organizations in addressing the need for rehabilitation and reconstruction, and stress the need for the Government to assist and protect the civilian population, including refugees and internally displaced persons, regardless of their origin.

The Assembly would urge all parties to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law, and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to all affected populations throughout the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the safety of such personnel.

The General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to consult urgently with regional leaders in coordination with the Secretary-General of the OAU about ways to bring about a peaceful and durable solution to the conflict and to convene, when appropriate, an international conference on peace, security and development in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to keep under review the economic situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a view to promoting participation in and support for a programme of financial and material assistance to enable the Democratic Republic of the Congo to meet its urgent needs for recovery and reconstruction.

The Assembly also had a draft resolution on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation of Tajikistan (document A/55/L.41), sponsored by Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan.

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would stress that Tajikistan has entered a new phase of post-conflict peace-building, which requires continued international economic assistance. It would encourage Member States and others concerned to continue assistance to alleviate the urgent humanitarian needs and to offer support for the post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction of Tajikistan's economy.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would call upon the Secretary-General to re-evaluate in 2001 all humanitarian assistance activities in Tajikistan with a view to addressing longer-term developmental issues, and would stress the need to ensure the security and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel, and of United Nations and associated personnel, as well as the safety and security of their premises, equipment and supplies.

By the draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to give special attention, in the dialogue with the multilateral lending institutions, to the humanitarian implications of their adjustment programmes in Tajikistan.

Assistance to Palestinian People

The Secretary-General's report (document A/55/137-E/2000/95) on assistance to the Palestinian People covers the period from May 1999 to May 2000, and provides an analysis of the current status of development and of development assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory. In September 1999, the Secretary-General reconfigured the mandate of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, whose title was changed to United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority.

The report states that throughout the period under review, the Special Coordinator has maintained his efforts to fulfil the mandate of his office, including ensuring better coordination between the relevant institutions of the Palestinian Authority and United Nations agencies, as well as the donor community, and monitoring and documenting economic and social conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

According to the report, progress has continued to be made in meeting some of the urgent and most significant priorities that confront the Palestinian authority and people. Additional support is necessary to address basic human needs and to improve the physical environment and infrastructure. The planning processes and plans of the Palestinian Authority have become more effective in the past three years, and this has brought greater clarity on the unmet needs. United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and other funds and programmes are making important contributions, in a responsive and innovative way, to the socio-economic development priorities.

The report states that there is concern about the declining trend of both new commitments and disbursements for development cooperation, in spite of the present special needs and the challenges that lie ahead. The Palestinian institutions and the Palestinian Development Plan serve as a reasonable framework for further international assistance and a sound basis for ongoing dialogue to guide future development collaboration. The circumstances, assumptions and exigencies which affect the occupied Palestinian territory and people will continue to evolve in the coming period.

Support by United Nations System of Efforts of Governments To Promote and Consolidate New or Restored Democracies

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the item before the Assembly articulated the aspirations and objectives of new and restored democracies. The first three International Conferences on New or Restored Democracies had established the foundations on which democratic institutions could be consolidated.

He said that, in the present international scenario, it was only democratization which could help States to effectively address many challenges of today’s world. Democracy and development were inseparable. The developing countries depended on international support. The United Nations could play a proactive role in advancing the process through innovative and wide-ranging programmes. Strengthening of democracies should be a key objective of activities of the United Nations system. It would be useful if the Secretary- General brought out a compendium of pronouncements on democracy in all major intergovernmental decisions of the United Nations.

Enhancing the democracy process had been a rewarding experience in his country, he said. His country had embarked on a comprehensive programme of reform and deregulations. The commitment to democracy and rule of law had prompted it to accord priority to human rights. Social development had remained the main focus of development strategy. Rights of women and children had been focused upon. The role of civil society in development and democratization efforts, particularly in the social sector, had been very extensive.

He recommended that the world body improve the capacity of the Organization to respond effectively to requests of Member States for support to their democratization efforts, but recognized the responsibility of the respective countries in ensuring peace, justice, equality, human rights, individual freedom, rule of law, pluralism, development and better standards of living.

Action on draft resolution A/55/L.32/Rev.1

The Assembly was informed that Ireland had become a co-sponsor of the resolution.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on the issue without a vote.

JANUSZ STANCZYK (Poland), responding to the previous speaker on behalf of the Convening Group of the Community of Democracies, said that the Convening Group noted with satisfaction that this resolution had been adopted by consensus, and thus the entire membership of the United Nations had spoken resolutely with one voice on the issue of democracy. This was of utmost importance, not only for the States on whose behalf he spoke but for the international community at large.

He said that on 4 December in Cotonou, Benin, the Fourth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies would open its deliberations. The Convening Group of the Communities of Democracies strongly appealed to all Member States to be represented at the Conference at the highest possible level, and that they participate actively in it.

The Convening Group underlined its strong interest in promoting democracy and democratization in the world. He deeply believed that the Group’s strong approach and determination would stimulate and facilitate efforts of other governments, as well as international organizations, to intensify their national and international action to strengthen the rule of law, further develop and enhance democratic institutions and mechanisms, and strongly stand by democratic ideals.

Emergency International Assistance for Tajikistan

RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan), introducing the draft resolution on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation of Tajikistan, said his country attached great importance to United Nations work in extending humanitarian assistance, which was making an important contribution to overcoming the consequences of natural, man-made and other disasters. With regard to sanctions, he said that it was important to maintain neutrality, impartiality, a lack of political conditions and the respect for sovereignty. Sanctions must be governed in accordance with international law and the law of the country that had suffered the disasters. There was a need for a humanitarian approach to sanctions, and they needed to be targeted. They should not be applied to foodstuffs, medicines or other emergency supplies. It was important to continue work on rendering sanctions regimes more humanitarian.

More coordination in humanitarian assistance was needed, he continued. Humanitarian multilateral assistance should not compete with bilateral assistance. They needed to be part of a single whole, and account must be taken of inter-agency appeals. His country was concerned with the low level of coverage of financial needs in response to inter-agency appeals of 2000. The increase in the incidence of natural and other disasters had placed new demands on the international community, and one priority was effective use of the most advanced technologies for dealing with catastrophes. That could be facilitated by a comprehensive inventory of the available technologies on a national, international and regional level.

He informed the Assembly that, since the release of the draft resolution, the following countries had added their names to the list of co-sponsors: Bangladesh, Japan and India.

International Cooperation for Rehabilitation, Economic Development of Semipalatinsk Region of Kazakhstan

MADINA B. JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan), introducing the draft resolution on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, said the region remained a matter of serious concern. International effort was required in solving the problems of the region, particularly in addressing health issues, and its human and ecological rehabilitation. The report of the Secretary-General had stated that the longer-term effects of radiation had left the population extremely vulnerable. A team of independent experts from Japan had examined the nuclear test site and had come to the conclusion that the level of radiation was 600 times above normal. In fact, it was equal to the level in Japan following the Hiroshima bombing. Further international assistance was needed in addressing the situation, she said. She also informed the General Assembly that since the release of the draft resolution the following countries had added their names to the list of sponsors: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands and Poland.

GELSON FONSECA, JR. (Brazil) noted that both natural and man-made disasters continued to cause pain and suffering, whereas the resources to alleviate their consequences fell short of what was needed. He felt that preparedness was crucial, particularly international assistance in mitigating damages and reducing the need for post-disaster aid and reconstruction. Prevention involved the construction of solid pillars for a peaceful society through cooperation for development, poverty eradication and the strengthening of the rule of law. Strategies to tackle humanitarian problems should focus on conflict prevention, peacemaking and post-conflict peace-building.

In evaluating three aspects of United Nations humanitarian assistance, he pointed to coordination of the many different humanitarian agencies, whose efforts “must be based on the principle of shared responsibility”. His Government believed that a synergy in the realm of humanitarian assistance was needed. The second aspect was related to the access of humanitarian personnel to those who needed assistance. Often there was a denial of access in situations of armed conflict. He called on States to take into account their international obligations and facilitate the work of humanitarian personnel. Brazil was very concerned with the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, referring to 198 civilian staff killed in the service of the Organization since 1992 as “shocking”.

He said gross violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law were at the centre of today’s complex emergencies. It was important, therefore, to strengthen the advocacy efforts of the United Nations system and put pressure to halt such abuses, by ensuring that those responsible are held accountable for their crimes. Brazil urged the United Nations to widen the scope of protection under the 1994 Convention on Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. He paid homage to those who had lost their lives to provide some hope for the underprivileged of the world, called them "heroes of real life”.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said during the last couple of years the world had been shaken by successive crises which had tested the ability of the Organization to react to them. An effective reaction was of vital importance, impacting the life-and-death situation of millions of people in need. Armed conflicts, floods, drought, earthquakes, among other calamities, were crises in which people frequently had their first contact with United Nations agencies. To meet the objectives of assistance should be given top priority. The Secretary-General, in a report to the Security Council, had made 40 recommendations for protecting civilian victims of conflict.

Security Council action was necessary but not sufficient. Humanitarian action was often independent of political situations. The Assembly needed to address the underlying causes of conflict and to help create conditions for sustainable peace and reconciliation. The Assembly could help through promoting humanitarian rights law, encouraging respect of international humanitarian law and principles, and ending impunity. He called on the Assembly to integrate the recommendations of the Secretary-General into its own work, and to promote practical strategies for implementation at the field level.

He said that next spring the Secretary-General was mandated to report on the protection of civilians to the Assembly and the Security Council. His country would continue to actively promote that dimension of the Human Security agenda. Civilians were increasingly becoming targets in armed conflicts, and those providing protection and assistance to them were also likely to find themselves under attack. Working under the flag of the United Nations or the Red Cross or Red Crescent was no longer a guarantee of protection. Humanitarian workers needed protection but also proper training, and they needed to be provided with enhanced United Nations security resources to ensure that assaults were investigated and prosecuted. The Secretary-General’s recommendations with regard to the scope of legal protection under the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel should be considered carefully. It was vital that the Assembly took greater responsibility for monitoring conditions on the ground, and, where conditions merited, for acting promptly to invoke the 1994 Convention.

He welcomed progress made in more coordinated approaches in complex emergencies and natural disasters. He urged OCHA to improve collaboration within the humanitarian community. In order to ensure coherence among the various United Nations bodies, a sense of partnership among the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council must be promoted, he said.

JULIA LOPEZ (Venezuela) said that natural disasters had a profound effect on developing countries, delayed the integration of their economies into the world economy, caused loss of life and damaged infrastructures and basic services. Venezuela expressed recognition for the support received following the tragedy on 17 December 1999, which had taken her country by surprise. Since then, Venezuela had stepped up efforts to improve its system for the management of disasters. A special Working Group had been set up to design strategies in order to work on risk management. Her country was also working on revising risk management policies in order to give them a preventive dimension, and was strengthening prevention measures at all levels of decision-making.

The lesson that had been learning from last year’s disaster was that atypical climate change could cause extensive damage. The Government of Venezuela had been working on relief efforts with the private sector, yet the affected areas had not been yet reconstructed. At the moment, there was heavy rainfall in several areas in Venezuela, and a state of emergency had been declared in 11 states. A further challenge was that of access to technology. That meant not only the allocation of financial resources, but also the training of highly specialized human resources. Venezuela appealed to the more developed States of the international community to share that technology.

ARNE HONNINGSTAD (Norway) stated that humanitarian emergencies were increasing in scale and in number, requiring more resources to react effectively. In addition, the international community's collective effort to fulfil obligations were out of tune with the real needs. Norway urged Member States to reverse that trend through sustained, adequate financial commitment from donors and further improved coordination by the United Nations. In that regard, his country welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on "strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations”.

The enlarged membership of the United Nations Inter-Departmental Framework for Coordination Team was a positive step toward better preventive action, he said. Norway believed that the expansion would strengthen the development of improved mechanisms for early warning, contingency planning and preparedness. He felt that the extensive attention aimed at better coordination of assistance when natural disasters struck was both helpful and relevant. Moreover, the references to legal instruments, notably the International Criminal Court and the 1994 Convention of the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, were rightly given centrality in the report. Further, his Government supported the Consolidated Appeals (CAPs) to be launched in eight cities around the world, starting in New York tomorrow, and hoping to generate $2 billion for 2001. That amount would represent emergency life-saving assistance to more than 35 million persons.

Norway had responded generously in mobilizing resources to the CAPs, which should be used as a strategic tool and an important channel for contributions to emergency humanitarian assistance. But the international community was faced with a paradox: the more work and inter-agency coordination undertaken in order to improve the CAPs and make them more user-friendly, the fewer funds had been mobilized. His country expressed concern at the fact that only 55 per cent of the CAP for 2000 had been funded as of mid-November. Norway recognized that important improvements in the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance had taken place, but more remained to be done. He called on the United Nations to include NGOs and local national organizations when coordinating the utilization of scarce resources. In closing, Norway also took note of those who had lost their lives in the service of the Organization, saying that a clear message must be sent that the situation was unacceptable and intolerable. Norway urged the United Nations to establish a full-time post of United Nations Security Coordinator.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said it was essential to provide victims of natural disasters with the assistance they needed. The European Union welcomed the work of the OCHA on enhancing the effectiveness of operations, and the transition between humanitarian assistance and reconstruction. Full support was required for the many tasks the OCHA had to carry out, he said. The security of United Nations staff could not be ignored, and the European Union shared the concern of the Secretary-General as to the deterioration of working conditions in terms of safety of personnel. There were many problems and several measures needed to be taken. In one year, 21 United Nations staff had lost their lives, crimes that had gone unpunished in almost every case. That was clearly an intolerable situation. The European Union urged all States to include in their legislation provisions for the battle against impunity, and to sign and ratify, if they had not already done so, the 1994 Convention on Security of United Nations Personnel.

The European Union welcomed the efforts of the United Nations system and the Coordinator of Security to address the above-mentioned issues and to find effective solutions. However, financial strengthening was required in the field of cooperation. Security had been discussed within the OCHA and the Inter- Agency Standing Committee, and the European Union encouraged the continuation of their work, particularly in terms of training of staff. It was vital to train staff, particularly first-time staff in complex situations. The Inter-Agency meetings had also resulted in arrangements to remedy the situation of insufficient coordination in favour of internally displaced persons.

The Third Humanitarian Session of the Economic and Social Council had allowed reflection on the objectives in that field, he said, as well as on the reform by the Secretary-General of United Nations operating procedures. The European Union encouraged the humanitarian segment to exchange views regarding coordination in a specific and targeted manner. The European Union also supported the action of the OCHA in developing its coordination with other sectors of the United Nations system. The General Assembly had created an international strategy for the mitigation of disaster, yet a great deal remained to be done. In the battle for the reduction of disasters, international cooperation made full sense and needed to be supported.

MANUEL TELLO (Mexico) said that while humanitarian assistance was one of the noblest expressions of solidarity, it was better to prevent than to remedy. Development was the best deterrent for conflicts, and at the same time, the best defence against the ravages of natural disasters. Strengthening international cooperation for development therefore remained the highest priority. It was an unavoidable challenge facing the United Nations.

Mexico had always maintained that solutions to disputes must be in accordance with the United Nations Charter, he said. Today, there were no clear mandates or universally accepted criteria for dealing with situations with grave humanitarian consequences. His country had rejected the right of interference based on unilateral decisions or decisions of small groups of countries. While the international community could not stand aloof from the tragedies of humanitarian crises, action must be based on universally accepted principles.

Humanitarian assistance was a complex task, requiring real and definite parameters, he said. He supported the guidelines of Assembly resolution 46/182, which provided a Plan of Action and Standard of Conduct for the display of international solidarity. It was essential that there be full respect for the sovereignty of States and that that action was always taken at the request or with the consent of the recipient State.

In recent years, there had been an increase in the impact of natural disasters in numbers, victims, and the scale of damaged caused. The International Decade for the Reduction of Natural Disasters was aimed at mitigating the negative impact of among other things, El Niño, cyclones, hurricanes, which afflicted every corner of the world. It had forged a growing awareness of international solidarity, and had pointed towards the need to move on from reacting to disasters to a comprehensive strategy in terms of sustainable development and efforts to prevent and reduce natural disaster effects, such as early warning, emergency mitigation and reconstruction. Humanitarian assistance was a shared responsibility and a collective commitment, he stressed.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that in complex humanitarian emergencies the role of the United Nations became pivotal. One had not only to respond to the immediate needs of the victims, but also to address political and development aspects of the situation. The United Nations could perform those two roles. However, it needed to be assured that the independence and impartiality of humanitarian activities were not compromised by their association with the political process. The United Nations could also be more effective in ensuring access of civilians to areas requiring humanitarian assistance and to ensure the safety of civilians. Efforts had been made by the United Nations system to strengthen both legal and physical protection for civilians caught up in armed conflicts. However, such steps became extremely difficult when State machinery was used to kill innocent civilians in situations of armed conflict and foreign occupation. Terrorism perpetrated by State troops should be curbed with stern action. The international community should bring to justice those who violated the human rights of people living under foreign occupation.

In the last decade, he noted, Africa had suffered from a number of complex humanitarian emergencies. However, the response of the international community had not been very supportive of Africa’s efforts. Bilateral actions had been very selective. In most cases, those were not driven by the sole consideration of meeting the needs of victims, but were based on political considerations. It was well known that the effects of disasters could be mitigated by early warning and rapid response. To develop those abilities, the developing countries must be provided access to relevant technologies and sufficient resources. The needs of small island developing States should be given special attention in that connection.

Although there had been an overall increase in resources allocated for humanitarian assistance, the proportion of international humanitarian aid delivered through multilateral channels had declined. The utilization of resources through bilateral channels made coordination of international resources more difficult. It also resulted in a loss of opportunities to develop the national capacities of affected countries, as most of the organizations tended to focus only on the delivery aspect of assistance, and not on the long-term question of development. The CAP should be the overall framework for channeling humanitarian assistance from all sources.

Pakistan was bearing the burden of an emergency which had been virtually forgotten by the international community, he said. His country was host to approximately 2.6 million Afghan refugees. They had played a critical role in putting an end to the cold war but had been denied a share in the peace dividend. The world had abandoned that mass of displaced humanity. Consequently, the onus of responsibility had shifted to the Government of Pakistan. Its limited resources had seriously curtailed its ability to address the needs of those refugees. He called on the international community to respond to the appeals issued for humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), said that United Nations staff were constantly faced with the prospect of being physically and psychologically harassed, violated and murdered with impunity. According to the Secretary- General’s report on the issue, 217 civilian staff members of the United Nations system had been killed in the line of duty since 1992. Worse yet, only 3 cases of violent deaths out of 177 had been brought to justice. The situation was untenable and required concrete action. It was vital for Member States to acknowledge their obligations for the safety and security of United Nations personnel. Where criminal or violent acts occurred, it was crucial to ensure swift and effective action against the perpetrators. One could not expect United Nations staff members to take on difficult and dangerous assignments without proper training and equipment.

Earlier this year in South Africa, and particularly in Mozambique, the most devastating floods in history had occurred. South Africa and Zimbabwe had not been spared, he said. Despite problems of their own, it had been heartwarming to note the number of ordinary South Africans and Zimbabweans who had crossed the border to assist the people of Mozambique. Much of that would not have been possible, or sustainable, without the assistance of United Nations bodies such as OCHA and the World Food Programme (WFP). It was important to learn from those and similar disasters in order to better prepare for future calamities. The southern African floods illustrated the value of using multilateral channels for emergency assistance. However, it also underlined the fact that relief agencies were acutely under-funded. The need for national disaster plans and management policies had also become painfully evident.

This year’s humanitarian segment of the Economic and Social Council had addressed the thorny issue of internally displaced persons, and as the Assembly was aware, had failed to come up with any agreed conclusions. He found that turn of events particularly disconcerting. The issue of internally displaced persons was of major concern to the African region. Ten African countries alone accounted for over 12 million of the estimated 20 to 25 million people displaced in the world today. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had displaced some 1.3 million of its citizens, and caused similar displacement in neighbouring countries. Piecemeal approaches on internal displacement had to end, he said. He called on all Member States to cast aside ideological inflexibilities and commit themselves to a serious debate on the issue.

MR. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that, although there were some encouraging signs of greater responsiveness on the part of the international community in coming forward with increased assistance, the pace was not sustained. With the increase in the number of humanitarian emergencies, the range of organizations getting involved in humanitarian response to crises was also increasing. That was giving rise to coordination challenges. The need for better coordination was indeed a priority. The CAPs was a key tool for coordination of the international response to emergencies, and that more emphasis must be placed on the process as a continuous year-round process of inter-agency coordination.

It was a matter of hope that there had been a good response to the consolidated appeal in 1999, when some 75 per cent of requirements were met. Every effort must be made to maintain that upturn in donor response. He emphasized the need to ensure the safety of personnel who were risking their lives to help people in distress. It was important for all to ensure that humanitarian personnel had safe and unimpeded access to all people in need of assistance.

The role of technology in disaster preparedness and alerting people to an impending natural disaster could not be overemphasized, he said. The best way to minimize loss of human lives and reduce the impact of a disaster was to alert people to an impending crisis sufficiently ahead of the event. In Bangladesh, early warning and disaster preparedness had already made a huge difference in the way that natural calamities and cyclones were tackled. He urged all donor countries and international agencies to prevent, mitigate and mount adequate response to disasters.

HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) said effective humanitarian activities were possible only in an environment where humanitarian personnel could discharge their responsibilities, without hindrance or fear for their lives. In that context, he said arrangements for the safety and security of United Nations personnel should be strengthened. Japan thus supported the initiative of the Secretary-General to ensure the safety and security of personnel from different organizations on the ground, in a complex and rapidly changing context.

He said efficient and adequate training was also a key factor in guaranteeing the safety and security of personnel. Last year, Japan contributed $1 million to the trust fund created to strengthen security training of field personnel, and would contribute another $1 million this year. Other countries should join his in this effort, and the United Nations should make the best use of it. He said Japan also wanted to highlight the importance of a legal framework for the security of humanitarian personnel.

The primary responsibility for ensuring a secure environment for humanitarian workers lay with the government of the host country, he said. He pointed out the need to further strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance in light of the increasing number of actors involved, the growing complexity of situations and the differentiated needs of victims. Also crucial, in addition to the need for horizontal coordination, or synergy between actors on the ground, was the coordination needed to ensure a smooth continuum between humanitarian emergency assistance and assistance towards reconstruction.

JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the heavy snows and extremely cold winter of 1999/2000 in his country had led to the loss of nearly three million head of livestock -- about nine per cent of the nation's entire livestock population. More than a fifth of the nation's human population had also been affected by what was the worst multiple disaster in his country in the last 30 years. Cattle-raising was the main source of income for most of the rural population hit by the natural calamity. Even more alarming was the effect of the death of their herds on nomadic families.

Mongolia was large, he went on, and it was not easy to deliver assistance to remote localities that had been hit by disaster. Responses for international assistance had been nevertheless quite helpful, but given the scope of damage, it would be extremely difficult for Mongolia to cope on its own with all the negative consequences, which would affect the country for several years. Winter had already started in Mongolia and the herders faced the prospect of another harsh season.

He said the relief operation in his country offered some lessons for consideration in similar situations in the future. There was a need for faster reactions to appeals, faster assessment of disaster damage and, of course, faster implementation. As was evident from the Secretary-General's report, the overall response to international appeals was still not satisfactory. Multilateral responses to humanitarian emergencies were needed, in support of national efforts. Since natural disasters often struck States lacking the resources to cope with them adequately, his delegation wanted to stress the need for further concrete measures to reduce the vulnerability of societies in those countries, such as disaster-reduction mechanisms which should also be an integral part of sustainable development strategies. He stressed the importance of appropriate technologies for early warning, prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response to natural disasters. Such technologies should be made available on preferential and concessional terms.

YURIY ISAKOV (Russian Federation) said that progress had been achieved in the approach of the United Nations system to natural disasters, particularly in readiness and early warning systems. On the other hand, an increase in natural disasters presented new challenges and made it necessary to further improve the existing tools. It was vital that neutrality, impartiality, and the agreement of the country affected, were all adhered to. Otherwise, there could be no improvement, he said. Humanitarian intervention was directly opposed to the above-mentioned principles, and destructive to international relations as a whole. The effectiveness of United Nations work was decisively dependent on consensus decisions. He stressed the importance of the Economic and Social Council humanitarian segment, which had functioned in a businesslike atmosphere, avoiding politicization. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee was an important forum for improvement, and its work should be published on a regular basis. He was gratified that the appeals for 2001 were to be held tomorrow, and encouraged donor States to remember the so-called “forgotten emergencies”.

He said that the increase in number and scale of natural disasters lent topicality to the report on the role of technology. However, it seemed to focus mainly on early warning technologies, such as telecommunications and space technologies. There was no information about the use of technology at the stage of recovery and rescue. The Russian Federation had submitted a list of its specialized technologies for disasters. He urged other countries to submit similar information in order to coordinate machinery in crisis situations.

He stressed the need to increase assistance to Tajikistan, where drought and refugees from Afghanistan exacerbated the situation. Impartial assistance to Afghanistan was also required, he said. He emphasized the need for sanctions regimes to take into consideration consequences on civilians. It was vital that

humanitarian assistance did not fall under sanctions regimes. He pointed out that next April would be the fifteenth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The consequences and scale of the accident required serious international attention. The three countries primarily affected -- Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation -- called upon the international community to find solutions to minimize the consequences.

ATUL KHARE (India) said it should be a matter of concern that some serious issues in delivering humanitarian aid did not get more notice. The uncoordinated aspect of humanitarian assistance was one of those. Also to be addressed was the question of delivering assistance to populations at risk in areas of recent conflict where a United Nations peacekeeping operation was deployed. The assistance itself was a bone of contention between parties to a conflict. Also, further attention should be given to the issues of increasingly using armed forces to deliver aid and of increasing reliance on private sector largesse or transnational corporate involvement, which could be driven by commercial interests rather than local needs. Finally, the Relief Web's platform should be truly useful for the information of impartial humanitarian agencies.

All those problems could be addressed by scrupulously adhering to the Guiding Principles for Humanitarian Assistance, he continued. However, those were honoured more in the breach than in the observance. Nevertheless, those guidelines made it clear that however much the assistance of others was appreciated, primary responsibility for humanitarian assistance lay with the affected country.

He said state-of-the-art technologies such as remote sensing, computer modeling and electronic information management should be developed for better global management of natural disasters. To ensure the safety of humanitarian workers delivering assistance, the genuine impartiality of the assistance must be made clear to those being helped. On a bilateral basis and despite limitations, India had been assisting the Palestinian people and would continue to do so through scholarships and cultural exchange programmes. It had also assisted the people of Afghanistan, but the humanitarian situation there was assuming serious proportions. The Taliban authorities must revoke their discriminatory practises against minorities.

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For information media. Not an official record.