GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AFTER DAY-LONG DEBATE, ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON AID TO ANGOLA, KAZAKHSTAN, MOZAMBIQUE, TAJIKISTAN AND TIMOR-LESTE

25 November 2002
GA/10106

GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AFTER DAY-LONG DEBATE, ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON AID TO ANGOLA, KAZAKHSTAN, MOZAMBIQUE, TAJIKISTAN AND TIMOR-LESTE

25/11/2002
Press ReleaseGA/10106

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

58th and 59th Meetings (AM & PM)

GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AFTER DAY-LONG DEBATE, ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON AID

TO ANGOLA, KAZAKHSTAN, MOZAMBIQUE, TAJIKISTAN AND TIMOR-LESTE

Texts Indicate Strategy of Encouraging Transition from Relief

To Development, Self-Help in Humanitarian Assistance Programmes

The General Assembly this afternoon adopted without a vote five resolutions relating to continued economic, humanitarian and other assistance to Kazakhstan, Angola, Tajikistan, Mozambique and Timor-Leste.  The action came after a day-long debate, during two meetings.

Action on a draft resolution on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was postponed until a later date.

The country-specific resolutions supported actions consistent with the theme of incorporating strategies aimed at transitioning from relief to development in humanitarian assistance programmes. 

Thus, in relation to Angola, the Assembly urged the Government of Angola to strengthen public administration to develop further a comprehensive resettlement and reintegration strategy, in cooperation with the international community.  It also urged the Government to continue to implement its urban and rural poverty alleviation programmes with a view towards eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.  

Furthermore, by its resolution on Tajikistan, the Assembly called upon the Secretary-General to continue to re-evaluate all United Nations humanitarian assistance activities in Tajikistan with a view to preparing a common humanitarian strategy that would support the relief and recovery operations during the transitional period from relief to development, with a major focus on promoting self-reliance and sustainable development.

In this context, the representative of Zambia said that international support for humanitarian crises should be given during the entire process from relief to development.  The intensity of risks and the impact of future hazards could be significantly mitigated if development took root. 

Additionally, the representative of the Republic of Korea noted that in all emergencies, natural or man-made, humanitarian assistance must proceed not as a

distinct phase in and of itself, but as part of a continuum that included relief, recovery and development.  Otherwise, the result was likely to be a dependency that perpetuated the emergency situation and a vulnerability that was prone to future disasters and crises.  He noted, moreover, that it seemed that, increasingly, the causes of natural disasters had less to do with nature and more to do with the accumulated effects of human activities, in the form of urbanization, indiscriminate development, environmental degradation, and resulting climatic changes.

The representative of Peru called for the international community to pay urgent attention to the causes of many natural disasters, which were the result of globalization of urban demographic explosions with unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.

The representatives of Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Brazil, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), Iran, Egypt, Mexico, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, India, Russian Federation, Colombia, Norway, Australia, China, Tajikistan, Canada, Argentina, Malawi, United States, Liberia, Japan and Angola also addressed the Assembly, as did the Observer for Palestine.  Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Organization for Migration also spoke.

The representative of Israel and the Observer for Palestine spoke in right of reply.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, November 26, to consider Social Development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.

Background

The General Assembly this morning began its consideration of the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance, for which it had before it a number of reports and resolutions.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel (document A/57/300), which outlines the threats against United Nations personnel over the past year as well as an update on implementation of the initiatives approved during the fifty-sixth session of the General Assembly.  The goal of the United Nations security management system is to enable the effective and efficient conduct of United Nations activities while ensuring the security and safety of staff as a high priority.  As a result of enhanced training and security management, as well as through the institution of initiatives such as the minimum operational security standards, fatalities among United Nations personnel appear to be decreasing.

The report notes, however, that perpetrators of acts of violence seemingly operate with total impunity.  Of the 214 deaths of United Nations staff, only

22 perpetrators have been apprehended for the deaths of 15 staff members.  Member States must take stronger action to ensure that the perpetrators of attacks against United Nations personnel are brought to justice.  Moreover, while steps taken to reinforce the safety and security of United Nations staff have produced tangible results, the report also notes that the dangers that United Nations staff face have increased exponentially in the last two years.  The nature of the threat has changed and become more indiscriminate and difficult to predict.  Thus, the United Nations Security Coordinator was asked to prepare a plan for the further reinforcement of the United Nations security management system.

The Assembly also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on Strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (document A/57/77-E/2002/63), which begins with an analysis of the causes and effects of humanitarian emergencies, highlighting regional repercussions, and the coordination mechanisms and tools adopted by the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to address them.  It then examines the issue of “reaching the vulnerable populations,” and details challenges to securing safe and reliable humanitarian space to bring assistance to those affected by humanitarian emergencies.  The report emphasizes the importance of early, integrated planning and the need to ensure that transitional programmes contribute to reducing the risks and impact of future natural hazards.  It also details the findings of the independent review of the consolidated appeals (CAP) process.

The report suggests that the Assembly may wish to support country teams’ contingency planning on complex humanitarian crises or natural disasters, call upon armed groups to respect the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law, encourage efforts to develop clear criteria and procedures for the identification of armed elements during massive population displacement, request further reporting on the criminalization of economies in conflict, and continue efforts to establish codes of conduct and standards of behaviour for humanitarian workers.  Moreover, on the subject of transitioning from relief to development, the Assembly may wish to encourage strategies to identify and support engagement with local structures and invite Member States to incorporate and operationalize disaster management analysis into poverty reduction, developmental and environmental strategies.

Finally, the report concludes that the CAP process has become an important instrument for resource mobilization, humanitarian coordination and strategic planning.  However, these improvements have not resulted in increased humanitarian assistance.  The Assembly may wish to call upon non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to contribute to the humanitarian strategy contained in its consolidated appeals and call upon donors to support low-profile emergency appeals, while supporting humanitarian coordination and strategic planning by addressing agreed priority needs.

The Secretary-General’s report on Emergency response to disasters (document A/57/320) reviews the establishment by Greece and Turkey of a joint standby disaster response unit.

The Secretary-General’s report on International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development (document A/57/578) provides examples of the work being carried out by the United Nations, in cooperation with national and regional partners, to help promote viable strategies that strengthen capacities to respond to and deal with the aftermath of natural disasters.  It underlines the importance of incorporating vulnerability reduction activities as a key element in ensuring the successful transition from relief to development.  Furthermore, it recognizes the need to strengthen cooperation between the United Nations and the international community for increased understanding of the link between disaster reduction and sustainable development planning.

The Secretary-General’s note on Enhancing the functioning and utilization of the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (document A/57/613) shows that $267,644,437 has been advanced through the fund since its inception in 1991 through September 2002.  As of September 2002, the amount advanced for the year was almost

$42 million, making 2002 the year of highest use since the advancement of nearly $48.5 million in 1993.  While there has recently been a marked increase in advances to United Nations agencies for emergency response measures, this increase may be largely related to the expanded terms of its use, as agreed to by the Assembly in resolution 56/107, which extended use of the Fund to cover funding for humanitarian assistance for natural disasters, and new requirements in protracted emergencies and for emergency staff safety arrangements for United Nations and associated personnel.  Hence, before expanding the terms of the Fund even further, the note recommends that the pattern of its utilization be monitored and analyzed in more detail, and over a longer period of time.

Also before the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s report on Assistance to Mozambique (document A/57/97-E/2002/76), which describes follow-up initiatives undertaken in response to the 2000 floods, preparation for and response to the 2001 floods, and other United Nations assistance initiatives in support of the Government of Mozambique.  The report notes that while future improvements are needed, lessons learned have allowed for partners to be better coordinated and for preparation and response initiatives to be mainstreamed into United Nations and partner planning.  Furthermore, United Nations assistance in Mozambique has been augmented through the completion of the 2000 Common Country Assessment (CCA) which analyzed root causes of poverty in the country and resulted in the 2002-2006 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

The Secretary-General’s report on Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation in Tajikistan (document A/57/136) says that because of the continued drought in 2001, large sections of society in both urban and rural areas remain critically dependent on international humanitarian assistance.  The work of the international community and the United Nations family, while focusing on the alleviation of immediate needs, has attempted to address some of the underlying causes of poverty with projects and programmes aimed at long-term sustainability.

According to the report, more attention is needed in sectors such as health, water and environmental sanitation and education.  The main humanitarian and rehabilitation objectives of the United Nations in 2002 are to improve food security, access to primary health care and other basic social services and contribute to social rehabilitation, particularly through capacity building and the creation of employment opportunities.

The report of the Secretary-General on Humanitarian assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (document A/57/174) reviews the major humanitarian, socio-economic and human rights developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since July 2001.  Humanitarian activities focused on the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).  The economic reform process is marked by the socio-economic situation and, while the human rights situation continued to improve, the unresolved issue of missing persons remains an obstacle to better relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovo.

The report concludes that the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continues to stabilize, leading to a decline in humanitarian needs.  It calls for continued donor support to the most vulnerable populations, in particular the ethnic minorities of Kosovo.  In the current environment, the priority for the humanitarian community is to establish linkages with the development agenda and the formulation of policies, taking into account the needs and structural problems of refugees, IDPs and the most vulnerable persons in society.

The Secretary-General’s report on Assistance for humanitarian relief and the economic and social rehabilitation of Somalia (document A/57/180) outlines key developments in Somalia that have directly affected the well-being of the Somali people and United Nations operations in the country.  Recent and ongoing fighting between rival factions in the southern and northeastern parts of the country, in addition to continuing volatility in Mogadishu, are mentioned as particularly significant.  In terms of progress made, key interventions to alleviate the effects of conflict, poverty, food insecurity and related displacement are highlighted, and progress in sectors such as health, education, water and sanitation described.  Focus is placed on the difficult security environment in which United Nations agencies operate, the insecurity that United Nations workers face and the direct impact of security-related programme disruptions on beneficiaries throughout Somalia.  Somali leaders are called upon to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.

The report of the Secretary-General on International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk of Kazakhstan (document A/57/256) provides an account of what has been undertaken in the last two years for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region, which remains a matter of grave concern to the people and Government of Kazakhstan.  The report concludes that the international community has given significant attention to the problems of the Semipalatinsk region and has delivered substantial humanitarian and development assistance to the affected population.  However, the scale and consequences of the nuclear testing in the Semipalatinsk region are enormous and the population still remains exceptionally vulnerable to the economic, social and ecological challenges of the ongoing transition process.

The Secretary-General’s report on Assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Liberia (document A/57/301) outlines the evolution of the current situation as it relates to security, political, economic and humanitarian developments in the country and highlights the United Nations collaborative activities in support of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Liberia in 2001.  The report concludes that the consolidation of peace remains the most urgent challenge facing Liberia, as conflict had spread to five counties -- causing nationwide insecurity -- by early 2002.  The root causes of the conflict, identified as weak economic management, social inequalities and ethnic polarization, remain to a great extent unresolved.  There is a need for greater recognition of Liberia’s security, humanitarian and development crises, which hold serious implications for stability in the region.

The Secretary-General’s report on Assistance for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development in East Timor (document A/57/353) covers developments from July 2001 to May 2002, including the establishment of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), as the successor mission to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).  Since the Secretary-General’s previous report, progress had been made as the presence of the UNTAET military component ensured the stable security environment necessary for rehabilitation and development activities, while provision of essential services such as power, water roads, and housing has improved.  However, as more than

40 per cent of East Timorese are still living in absolute poverty, raising the economic and social status of the poor will be a major challenge, as will building human and institutional capacities given the grave shortage of qualified and experienced East Timorese across all areas of government activity, the private sector and civil society.

The Secretary-General’s report on Special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document A/57/377) describes the financial and material assistance provided by the United Nations system to the process of economic revival and reconstruction.  The United Nations organizations have contributed technical, financial and material assistance in the three key areas of restoring security and a lasting peace, emergency assistance to populations in distress and economic recovery and reconstruction, the report says, in which respect a consciously proactive approach has been adopted.  Support for the restoration of peace and security has consisted of promoting human rights and the culture of peace through training activities or institutional support for ad hoc systems, both public and private.

Against a background of localized conflicts and the after-effects of earlier clashes, the United Nations system continued its humanitarian interventions and reaffirmed its commitment to civilian victims.  The sheer size of the country, the dispersal of the population and the relative absence of statistical data hindered this assistance to some extent.  The priority aim of future system activities will be to support the process of transition towards political normalization and economic reconstruction, through promoting democratic governance, combating poverty and supporting the mobilization of resources.

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/57/L.33), by which the Assembly would 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.  It would also invite all States, relevant multilateral financial organizations and other entities of the international community and NGOs as well as relevant organs and organizations of the United Nations system, to contribute to its human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development.  Finally, it would call upon the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to enhance public awareness of the problems and needs of the region.

By the draft resolution on International assistance for the economic rehabilitation of Angola (document A/57/L.41), the Assembly would call upon the Government of Angola to continue to contribute to and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to work towards ensuring the maintenance of peace and national security necessary for reconstruction, rehabilitation and economic stabilization.  It would appeal to Member States and in particular the donor community to support the projects foreseen in the mid-term review of the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for 2002.

It would also urge the Government of Angola to strengthen public administration to develop further a comprehensive resettlement and reintegration strategy, in cooperation with the international community, and to continue to implement its urban and rural poverty alleviation programmes with a view towards eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.  Finally, it would urge the Government of Angola to take the lead in mobilizing funding for the expansion of programmes for humanitarian mine-action activities and encourage international donors to contribute to these efforts.

By the draft resolution on Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation in Tajikistan (document A/57/L.42) the Assembly would emphasize the importance of further cooperation and assistance from the authorities in facilitating the work of humanitarian organizations, including non-governmental institutions, and would urge Member States to fund fully, and in a timely manner, programmes included in a consolidated inter-agency appeal in order to meet the humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations while the country moves ahead with peace-building and economic development.  It would also call upon the Secretary-General to continue to re-evaluate all United Nations humanitarian assistance activities in Tajikistan, with a view to preparing a common humanitarian strategy that would support the relief and recovery operations during the transitional period from relief to development.

By the draft resolution on Special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document A/57/L.43) the Assembly would stress that the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cannot be dissociated from the resumption of economic activity in the country.  It would renew its urgent appeal to the executive boards of the United Nations funds and programmes to keep under consideration the special needs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Furthermore, it would express its deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation throughout the country and urge all parties to respect fully the provisions of international humanitarian law and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to all affected populations.

The Assembly would call upon the international community to increase its support for humanitarian relief activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Finally, it would request the Secretary-General to continue to consult urgently with regional leaders on ways to bring about a peaceful and durable solution to the conflict and to convene an international conference on peace, security and development in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region to address the problems of the region in a comprehensive manner.

By the draft resolution on Assistance to Mozambique (document A/57/L.46), the Assembly would urge the international community to render its assistance to the drought victims and for setting up national, subregional, regional and international disaster prevention, preparedness and management mechanisms, including early warning systems.  It would also urge the international community to continue supporting the Government’s efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, while requesting the Secretary-General to make all necessary arrangements to continue to mobilize and coordinate, with a view to supporting the efforts of the Government of Mozambique, humanitarian assistance and international assistance for the national reconstruction and development of Mozambique.

Additionally, by the draft resolution on Assistance for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development for Timor-Leste (document A/57/L.47), the Assembly would urge the United Nations, other intergovernmental organizations, Member States and NGOs to continue to support the Government and people of Timor-Leste in their endeavours towards self-sustainable nation-building and in facing the remaining vulnerabilities and challenges, such as nationwide capacity-building in all sectors, national reconciliation, the return of refugees to Timor-Leste, and sustainable development.

Finally, the General Assembly had before it the report of the Secretary-General on Assistance to the Palestinian people (document A/57/130-E/2002/79) which notes that realities and priorities in the occupied Palestinian territory shifted significantly owing to the rapid escalation of violence and confrontation in March-April 2002.  To reflect this shift in emphasis, the report contains a separate analysis of the assistance provided in the periods from June 2001 to March 2002 and from March to May 2002.  The international community is responding to the crisis with a two-track approach of continued efforts to support the Palestinian Authority’s capacity to deliver essential services and emergency assistance with regard to damage to institutions, infrastructure and property and urgent social and humanitarian needs.

The report concludes that there is growing consensus in the international community around a vision for peace in the Middle East -– one of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders in an economically prosperous region.  For its part, the United Nations will continue to advocate an end to violence, including terrorism, and to promote a meaningful resumption of political dialogue between the parties leading to the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting political settlement of the conflict based on relevant United Nations resolutions.

MADINA JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) introduced draft resolution A/57/L.33 on the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan.

She said the Government had elaborated a health reform project for the region in response to nuclear test explosions which had affected it for over

40 years.  It had reinstated payments to assist victims of the testing, and had taken measures to clean up underground water contaminated by air fuel from the military base in the region.  It had increased its support to orphanages, hospitals, schools and boarding houses.  Since 1997, the donor community had also given significant attention to the problems affecting the region.

The Tokyo International Conference on Semipalatinsk was extremely important, she said, because it had mobilized the international community.  Nevertheless, she called for continuing assistance from the international community to allow the Government to formulate and implement special programmes and projects for the affected population of the region.  The scale and consequences of the testing were enormous, she said, and the population remained challenged economically, socially and ecologically.

ABDULMEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, introduced the draft resolutions on assistance to Angola (document A/57/L.41) and assistance to Mozambique (document A/57/L.46).  After a long and protracted war, Angola was on the path to peace and development.  The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 4 April, which had helped to end hostilities in the country and laid the basis for further consolidation of peace and economic rehabilitation, deserved special mention.  Since then, Angola, with the assistance of the international community, had shown tremendous positive developments.  The adoption of the draft resolution would further help create the enabling environment for peace and development. 

Likewise, he said, the situation in Mozambique was a reason for hope and optimism.  Indeed, the Economic and Social Council had held a special high-level meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement in Mozambique.  The country was striving to embark from the situation where natural disasters had impacted tremendously on its economic development.  The adoption of the draft resolution would complement the efforts of the Government to further consolidate peace and to register continued economic development in the country.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), introducing the draft resolution on assistance to Timor-Leste (document A/57/L.47), said that the draft resolution acknowledged the efforts of both the international community and the East Timorese in the transition to independent statehood.  It highlighted the role played by UNTAET and acknowledged the progress made in the transition from relief to rehabilitation and development.  Furthermore, the draft resolution welcomed efforts to provide assistance to Timorese refugees.

The draft resolution, she added, welcomed the commitment of the international community to meet Timor-Leste’s external requirements for its rehabilitation and reconstruction.  It also urged the international community and NGOs to support the efforts of the people of Timor-Leste in facing the needs of reconstruction in such areas as health, education, the judiciary, and law enforcement.  Moreover, it highlighted the growing participation of East Timorese women and encouraged the further addressing of gender issues.  Finally, she said that she hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus, as in years past.

ELLEN LOJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities by agreeing to outline overall directions for international work in the field of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.  On the protection of United Nations personnel in the field, she exhorted Member States to ensure that the perpetrators of attacks be brought to justice.  In addition, the Security Management System needed further reinforcement.  She regretted the fact that the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator had not been able to implement many of the initiatives detailed by the Secretary-General in his report.

Though progress had been made in the area of United Nations-NGO security collaboration, she felt that the CAP process put at the disposal of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) disposal, had not fully realized its potential.  In particular, OCHA had repeatedly pointed out the need to overcome the pronounced financing discrepancies between emergencies and sectors.  To deal with the wide range of transitional needs, it was important to attract development funds and to better engage development actors.  As regards Afghanistan, the joint appeals for 2003 had demonstrated the advantages of an integrated approach.  She pointed out the importance of advocacy for OCHA, saying there was a clear need for a coherent advocacy and public information strategy in relation to the CAP, including the use of decentralized CAP-launches.  She also said that proper measures had to be taken to protect refugees from abuse.

She concluded by pointing out the contributions made by the European Union to international humanitarian efforts:  overall, the Union had supplied about

50 per cent of global humanitarian assistance.  In 2001, it had given over one billion euros.  Through its aid office it had allocated over 500 million euros to fund humanitarian projects in more than 60 countries.  The relationship between the European Union aid office and its United Nations partners had been more clearly defined, she noted.

JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that the CAP, as a tool of strategic coordination, planning and advocacy, had been improving during the last decade.  Nonetheless, the results had been disappointing and there had been a steady decline in the proportion of humanitarian assistance channeled through the process.  There were also major discrepancies in funding of various emergencies, and even some large and catastrophic humanitarian crises had not captured the attention of donors. 

The proposed advocacy and public information campaign for increasing allocation of resources through the CAP should not increase the transitional costs of such a process, he said.  It should also be done in a holistic manner with more coordination among donors, participation of NGOs in the consolidated appeal components and its planning process, a financial tracking system that better accounted for the totality and the sources of humanitarian expenditures, and strong partnership with the media to ensure its success.

He said that an effective response to natural disasters should encompass preventive measures, including early warning systems and preparedness at the national as well as regional level.  The incorporation of vulnerability reduction and risk analysis in development planning at the local, national and international levels would strengthen preventive measures for addressing natural disasters.  Cooperation, collaboration and partnerships among major players from the North and South could contribute enormously to the prevention or reduction of the adverse impact of natural disasters.

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that while the United Nations did not have the institutional capacity to prevent internal conflicts, he supported the creation of a culture of conflict prevention, because conflicts caused so much suffering.  Humanitarian assistance was now one of the main tasks of the Organization and OCHA was therefore an essential mechanism of the United Nations.  However, Peru shared a growing concern over the difficulties faced in the CAP process.  Insufficient donor commitments had made it difficult to respond effectively to humanitarian crises.

Peru was particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and, therefore, concerned with their increasing frequency and magnitude, he said.  It was of the greatest urgency for the United Nations to strengthen its capacity to respond rapidly and effectively to natural disasters and to adopt decisive measures to strengthen the International Strategy to Reduce Natural Disasters.  Moreover, the United Nations should consider creating a compact with transnational corporations, many of which would be ready to contribute resources and equipment in large-scale natural disasters.

The international community also needed to pay urgent attention to the causes of the majority of natural disasters, which were the result of the globalization of urban demographic explosions, producing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.  Climate patterns had been distorted and natural disasters had increased.  Today, 55 per cent of natural disasters were hydro-meteorological in origin.  Thus, Peru supported the prompt entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol and the continued need to limit the production and consumption of gases that caused climate change.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) expressed his condolences in connection with the killing over the weekend of a British national working with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and reiterated that violations of the rights of humanitarian workers were a breach of international law.  He supported the enhancing of humanitarian assistance to meet the consequences of natural and man-made disasters as well as the impact of wars and conflicts.  He emphasized the importance of the Secretary-General’s call to promote a culture of protection. 

He appreciated the efforts of the international community to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian people resulting from Israeli practices.  The international community must provide assistance to the Palestinians and help salvage the peace process in the Middle East.  Israeli practices had resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe and the collapse of Palestinian infrastructures, economy and ecology.  A just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East was the only guarantee for the future of the Palestinian and Israeli people and for an end to the bloodbath. 

He appreciated the positive role played by UNRWA, which assisted about four million refugees.  He called on donor countries to step up their efforts to provide the necessary financing to meet the needs of the Palestinian people.  Donor countries must also take firm positions against actions which blocked the delivery of such assistance.   He called on OCHA to coordinate its efforts with UNRWA in order to follow up on the humanitarian condition of the Palestinian refugees.

MAURICIO ESCANERO (Mexico) said States had the primary responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance, and should do so in line with the principles of humanity and charity.  There had been an increase in natural disasters, such as storms and drought.  Climate change, he pointed out, had contributed to an increase in such disasters.  Many countries, especially those in the developing world, had been victims of those natural disasters.  They needed help to develop the capacity to deal with the consequences of such experiences.  Natural disasters, he went on, had compromised their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  When provided, humanitarian assistance should help to promote development in affected States, in addition to granting relief. 

He said the rehabilitation phase of assistance should be one of restoration, and should also incorporate measures to help affected States reduce their vulnerability to disasters in the future, so that they could be spared the repeated loss of resources and human life.  Mexico was prepared to assume a leadership role in assisting countries affected by natural disasters.  To respond effectively to humanitarian requirements, sufficient funds had to be available, he said.  Those resources should be provided unconditionally.  Such assistance, he stressed, had to be consistent with international law and should be an expression of solidarity with peoples and nations.

JENÖ STAEHELIN (Switzerland) said that his country would continue to pay close and equal attention to the coordination and consistency of humanitarian action within the United Nations system and among other actors.  Switzerland was pleased with the imminent adoption of the resolution on emergency international assistance deployed in the context of the “Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)” initiative, proof of the relevance of that issue.

He said Switzerland supported the Secretary-General’s intention to promote a culture of protection, the promotion of and respect for international humanitarian law, and the prohibition of the illicit exploitation of natural resources.  On respect for international humanitarian law, he said that responsibility fell on States on the one hand as the principal guarantors of protection, and on armed groups on the other as the ones required to adhere scrupulously to the fundamental rules of that law.  Regarding vulnerable groups in conflict situations, he said that civilian populations continued to pay the highest price, and it was therefore important that humanitarian assistance be provided impartially.  Also, the massive displacement of populations and consequent destabilizing effects must be addressed.

He concluded that the “criminalization” of national economies through the exploitation of natural resources, drug and weapons trafficking or -- even worse

-- human trafficking, continued to aggravate the numerous conflicts around the world.  It was a situation that deserved attention when the causes of conflict and the search for their resolution were considered.

ABDULAZIZ BIN NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said he was deeply concerned about the suffering of the Palestinian people, who had lost their properties and sources of living and were subject to displacement, extreme poverty and serious diseases.  Their suffering was the result of continuing Israeli aggression and crimes, which had exerted a devastating impact on the Palestinian economy.  His country had continued to provide special and immediate humanitarian aid, as well as long-term development assistance, to the Palestinians to alleviate their suffering and support them in their strife against Israeli aggression.

He condemned the Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories, which impeded staff of United Nations humanitarian organizations from providing the necessary relief assistance to the Palestinian people.  Such actions called for the intervention of the international community to protect the Palestinian population from Israeli aggression and massacres.

He requested Israel to halt its attacks and crimes against civilians immediately, to end the internal closure and blockade policies in Palestinian cities, and to allow humanitarian organizations to deliver the necessary aid.  He also urged the donor countries and relevant international financial institutions to enhance the scale and quality of humanitarian aid provided for the Palestinian people, in order to save them from humanitarian catastrophe.

A. GOPINATHAN (India) said that the vulnerability of societies to natural disasters posed a major threat to sustainable development, as pointed out in the Secretary-General’s report.  Also, the clear linkage drawn between poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters was completely valid.  In the long term, therefore, development assistance reduced the need for emergency humanitarian assistance and highlighted the importance of drawing a distinction between natural hazards and natural disasters.  Drought was a natural hazard and, therefore, unavoidable.  It need not, however, inevitably lead to disaster.  Famine could be avoided through long-term development assistance, which would make the socio-economic system resilient to the impact of natural disasters.  That, truly, would be a culture of prevention. 

He felt the idea of a “right to security from natural and technological disaster” needed further study and exploration, particularly with regard to its enforceability and obligations.  He was aware of the view that that process would benefit from inter-governmental oversight, particularly with regard to its principles, scope and objectives.  He looked forward to an opportunity to provide such oversight through an appropriate inter-governmental mechanism in the United Nations. 

It was his understanding that the concepts of a “culture of protection” or “responsibility to protect” or “humanitarian intervention” had not found acceptance among the vast majority of Member States.  Further discussion of that subject would only divert attention from issues which were of real concern to most Member States.

M. E. NIKOLAEV (Russian Federation) said that the importance of advanced technologies for the prevention and mitigation of the consequences of disasters was increasing.  Upgraded activities in the field could be attained through strengthening national early warning systems and enhancing international cooperation, attracting advanced search and rescue and other special technologies, and the effective exchange of experience and information and training of personnel.  In that context, a global emergency warning network should be created, aimed at better coordinating national search and rescue services, including defining national specializations in international rescue operations.

Tangible improvements had been made in structuring the procedural aspects and format of the Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeals process, he noted.  Information on the contents and methods of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s activities should be transparent to all Member States and systematically updated, while it was also necessary to strengthen the coordination of the activities of bilateral donors within the framework of Appeals implementation.

Furthermore, the United Nations had accumulated substantial experience in rendering humanitarian assistance to IDPs, he added.  However, the agreement of States on IDPs’ citizenship and the endorsement of the governing bodies of the United Nations remained necessary preconditions for humanitarian operations for the protection and assistance of IDPs.  It was the primary responsibility of national governments to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to IDPs.  International efforts should be complementary to measures taken at the national level.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the fact that 170 million people were affected by natural disasters in 2001, and that there had been 12 million refugees as a result, was a dramatic reality that the United Nations must face.  Most of those people lived in developing countries.  It was universally acknowledged that tending to the basic needs of those affected lay with national governments.  Hence, improving humanitarian response in the future would depend largely on the national and local capacity to respond.  The role of the international community was complementary in nature. 

An increase in focus on humanitarian activities was seen in two areas.  The first was in basic assistance for the needs of individuals, based on the need to protect them while respecting fundamental human rights.  It was necessary to respect the competence of those bodies entrusted with humanitarian assistance.  The second area was that of dialogue with the parties involved in conflict, particularly regarding humanitarian assistance. 

Attention to displaced persons was another area of increased focus of the humanitarian activities of the United Nations, he said.  In that connection, he highlighted the entry into operation of the new unit for displaced persons within OCHA.  The applicable guiding principle on displaced persons could be a useful framework for reference in conducting dialogue.  Massive displacement in Colombia was due to the activities of armed groups.  In its confrontation with society, those groups disregarded basic human rights and the rule of law.  He invited Member States to consider the upcoming Secretary-General’s report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which would be the subject of an open debate during the Colombian presidency next month.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) expressed concern that the total level of resources provided for humanitarian action was declining in proportion to the increasing levels of need.  He said that if the CAP lost their market share, that would reduce their effectiveness as a tool for strategic planning and coordination.  Donors should not allow themselves to be guided by media coverage to determine which emergency to support.  The loss of support for CAP had to be reversed, he said.  Since NGOs appeared to be gaining ground in international funding, they should coordinate their projects with the relevant CAP.  He recommended that the practice by international humanitarian organizations of requesting unearmarked or broadly earmarked contributions be closely examined.

Donor countries, he pointed out, should not overlook the needs of countries in transition.  They had attracted the least funds.  Contributions should be made to development and peace-building in countries that were seeking to resolve violent and deep-seated conflicts.  Attention should also be paid to reducing their vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters.  That was imperative because of the increased frequency of natural disasters.  He also supported the “4R” initiative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, bridging the gap between repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction processes in order to promote durable solutions for refugees, address poverty reduction and help create good local governance.

PETER TESCH (Australia) said his country was committed to working with the international community to support Timor-Leste’s reconstruction and development.  Although much had been achieved in Timor-Leste, significant challenges remained for UNMISET and other donors.  Through UNMISET, the United Nations would continue having an important role to play in maintaining social stability, particularly through the promotion of the rule of law, a transparent justice system and an effective police force.

He said responsibility for ensuring the safety of United Nations and humanitarian personnel rested with the governments within whose jurisdiction their activities were taking place.  Governments should recognize the workers’ impartiality, and allow them to operate without threat or hindrance.  Governments must also denounce attacks against the workers, and take all measures to bring perpetrators of violence to justice.  Practical measures should also be taken to ensure humanitarian workers’ safety.

       He added that States must undertake practical measures to promote understanding and observance of international humanitarian law within their own communities, especially among military and security forces, but also in civilian populations.  Also, the legal framework for the protection of United Nations and associated personnel needed to be strengthened.  Australia was playing an active role in efforts to improve implementation of the convention on the safety of those personnel.

SOMAIA S. BARGHOUTI, Observer for Palestine, said that the Secretary-General’s report had dealt with a number of issues, including the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the severe economic crisis faced by the Palestinians.  Since April 2000, the occupied Palestinian territory, including Al-Quds, had encountered serious deterioration.  In addition to the thousands of Palestinians killed and wounded, Israeli forces had bombed and demolished a number of buildings, homes and lands.  The destruction wrought between November 2000 and November 2001 had been assessed at $305 million.

As mentioned in the report, the Israeli policy of circling and surrounding Palestinians was the initial reason for the crisis, which was first of all an economic crisis, she said.  The policy had brought about a decline in income and economic activities.  Unemployment in the West Bank was 50 per cent; it was about 60 per cent in Gaza.  Israeli practices aimed at the Palestinian people were flagrant violations of the Geneva Conventions.  It was up to the international community to ensure that Israel respected the principles of those conventions and the will of the international community. 

She paid tribute to those in Arab countries who had provided emergency relief to the Palestinian people as well as support to the Palestinian Authority.  In addition, she thanked all donors and NGOs that had provided humanitarian and emergency assistance to the Palestinian people. 

HUANG XUEQI (China) said that challenges in the humanitarian field remained formidable; the spread of HIV/AIDS continued to grow while the plight of refugees and IDPs worsened.  Agreeing with the Secretary-General’s review of humanitarian aid activities and the root causes of humanitarian crises, he said that China recognized that natural disasters, as well as other humanitarian crises leading to complex emergencies, had effects beyond the borders of individual States.  In that respect, strengthening regional response mechanisms was just as important as building national capacities. 

In its provision of humanitarian assistance, the international community should strictly abide by the guiding principles of the Charter as well as those of humanity and State sovereignty, he added.  Assistance activities should be undertaken on the basis of appeals by affected States, and the United Nations should focus on national capacity building to achieve gradual transitions from relief to development.  Moreover, the status of special groups such as IDPs, women, children and the disabled should constitute the basis for such efforts. 

The appeals process was important in financing for humanitarian assistance, he noted.  However, over the past decade the proportion of funds channeled through it had declined relative to overall funding, while there was also a shortfall between what was needed for humanitarian activities and what was given.  In that context, the 2003 Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal had been a good fundraising event, raising the visibility of OCHA and drawing attention to humanitarian assistance activities.  Finally, as a disaster-prone developing country, China had received assistance from the United Nations and the international community, yet it had provided and would continue to provide assistance to other States through bilateral channels.

MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said that in order to address the regional effects of natural disasters and the resultant complex humanitarian emergencies, a holistic approach was needed.  In that respect, United Nations initiatives to strengthen its regional presence in areas vulnerable to natural disaster and other forms of crisis would ensure that all the dimensions of an emergency -- humanitarian, human rights, political and developmental -- were addressed.  Furthermore, international support for humanitarian crises should be given during the entire process from relief to development; the intensity of risks and the impact of future hazards could be significantly mitigated if development took root.

The food crisis in southern Africa, caused by three consecutive years of droughts and floods, had left an estimated 14.5 million people affected by food shortages, he noted.  In Zambia, in particular, there had been two consecutive years of drought in the southern -- the most productive agriculturally -– region, with almost total crop failure and decimation of livestock.  Recognizing that adverse weather patterns had become a persistent cycle, the Government had developed new measures and strategies to deal with the problem on a long-term and permanent basis, including the production of food crops using irrigation, winter maize production, strengthening good farming methods, promoting conservation farming, crop rotation and agriculture diversification.

Additionally, he said that the report, while addressing the difficulties of accessing vulnerable populations in armed conflict, did not address the peculiar problems of landlocked countries whose vulnerable populations lived mostly in rural areas and were thus difficult to access because of poor infrastructure.  Moreover, some countries neither facing conflict nor emerging from it were host to refugees from neighbouring States.  This led to added pressure on local authorities, already struggling to provide scarce and limited social services such as education, health, water, sanitation, communication and transport.

Afternoon Meeting

When the Committee met again this afternoon, RASHID ALIMOV (Tajikistan), introducing the draft resolution on assistance to his country, said the United Nations had played an important role in the peace process and had continued to

provide assistance for post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction.  The assistance of the United Nations had been critical in areas such as covering immediate emergency needs and mitigating the effects of two years of drought, as well as in improving access to primary health care and other basic social services.  However, continued assistance, including international financial assistance, was critical to sustaining the peace process.

The draft resolution welcomed the role of the United Nations in post-conflict peace-building in Tajikistan and expressed gratitude to all nations for their positive response to its needs, he added.  Furthermore, it called for continued assistance for reconstruction in post-conflict Tajikistan and noted the Secretary-General’s intention to continue the humanitarian programme there.  It also called upon Member States to finance humanitarian programmes to meet the needs of vulnerable segments in the process of moving the country forward in peace-building and reconstruction.  Finally, it requested the Secretary-General provide to the General Assembly, at its fifty-ninth session, a report on progress made.

GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said that humanitarian access, physical and legal protection for civilian populations and addressing the causes of conflict remained the most pressing issues for war-affected populations.  That was true in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Burundi, the Middle East, Colombia and elsewhere.  For populations affected by natural disasters, often the victims of unforeseen events, the recent droughts in southern and eastern Africa had highlighted the extent to which structural factors, including poor policy decisions, could undermine the ability of populations to cope, and could increase vulnerability.  There was no doubt that those dilemmas impacted on the capacity of governments, United Nations agencies and other inter-governmental and non-governmental actors to carry out effective humanitarian action and to ensure coordination. 

He said he believed the Inter-Agency Standing Committee was coming into its own.  The Action Plan developed by the Committee in response to the allegations of sexual violence and exploitation in the context of humanitarian crises was welcome, and demonstrated a collective commitment to addressing that issue worldwide.  He expected the Committee, under the continued leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, to follow through on the Action Plan and enforce a policy of zero tolerance.  Agencies delivering assistance must ensure they were accountable to both those they received support from as well as those they provided assistance to.

Expressing appreciation for the work done by OCHA, he urged the continued improvement in coordination within the humanitarian community.   There should also be greater coherence among political, human rights and development actors.

LUIS E. CAPPAGLI (Argentina) deplored the death on 22 November of Iain Hook of UNRWA, and expressed concern at reports that the ambulance that had been summoned to assist him was refused immediate access.  In addition to that grave incident, he said, on several occasions in recent times vehicles and staff of UNRWA had also been attacked.  He called on Member States to take “stronger actions” to fulfil their responsibility to ensure that the perpetrators of attacks against United Nations personnel were brought to justice and that any threat or act of violence against humanitarian personnel on their territory was investigated and that all appropriate measures taken against such perpetrators.

He said Member States which had imposed restrictions on communications equipment for the use of international humanitarian staff should lift those restrictions immediately, in the interests of safety and security.  The safety and security of United Nations and associated staff engaged in United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building operations should continue to be an important element in the planning of those operations, he said.  In that context, he invited the Secretary-General to continue to seek the inclusion of, and host countries to include, key provisions of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, among others those regarding the prevention of attacks against members of the operation, the establishment of such attacks as crimes punishable by law and the prosecution or extradition of offenders.

He underlined the importance of promoting the universality of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and encouraged all States to become parties to and respect fully their obligations under the Convention and further called on all Member States and other parties involved in armed conflict, in compliance with international humanitarian law, to ensure the security and protection of all personnel.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that in examining the cause of natural disasters, it seemed, increasingly, that they had less to do with nature and more to do with the accumulated effects of human activities, in the form of urbanization, indiscriminate development, environmental degradation, and the resulting climatic changes.  Thus, disaster response and recovery programmes must be drawn up and implemented on the premise of their close link to long-term planning for development.  In all emergencies, natural or man-made, humanitarian assistance must proceed not as a distinct phase in and of itself but as part of a continuum that included relief, recovery and development.  Otherwise, the result was likely to be a dependency that perpetuated the emergency situation and a vulnerability that was prone to future disasters and crises. 

Humanitarian assistance, he said, began with access to, and needed assessment of, vulnerable populations.  Monitoring to ensure that the assistance provided reached the populations was equally crucial.  Full cooperation at both ends of the process must be rendered by all parties concerned.  Another increasingly important element was the safety and security of the humanitarian workers delivering the assistance.  As the Secretary-General pointed out in his report, operational security had become an integral element of humanitarian intervention.  In that regard, he welcomed the steps that had been taken to strengthen security coordination and management for United Nations personnel.  In particular, security training for all field-bound personnel and the development of minimum operating security standards at all duty stations were steps in the right direction.

ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) said his country, among others in the developing world, was in the grip of an unprecedented famine which threatened the lives of

3.3 million people.  The situation was exacerbated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which affected about 16 per cent of the population.  In the face of such crises, it was important to regularly review and comprehensively evaluate the coordination of the performance of humanitarian relief efforts, lest there be duplication of effort and misallocation of resources.  Huge migrations, spawned by civil wars and natural disasters, gave rise to the need for constructive and ingenious ways of accessing, protecting and catering for victims in a more effective, holistic and coordinated manner.

While acknowledging improvements in the United Nations humanitarian operations, he said its CAP process should build local technical capacity for reliable weather forecasting, and flood and contingency planning.  Obsolete meteorological equipment in the developing countries, he noted, produced unreliable data and weather predictions.  United Nations field-disaster management teams might also find it expedient to co-opt the participation of State agencies, thus making it easier to mobilize high-level political will for unimpeded distribution of emergency relief.  The international donor community should also channel much of its humanitarian assistance through multilateral frameworks, in order to ensure transparency and allow for close monitoring of funds being disbursed.

SICHAN SIV (United States) said that the Secretary-General’s report had drawn attention to the increasing combination of the destructive forces of conflict and natural disaster.  To that list, he would add a third force –- misrule, which multiplied the adverse effects of natural disasters.  Some governments were engaged in regional or internal conflicts, spending precious money on weapons, while their people suffered from hunger and disease. 

Not only did such governments and non-State actors cause great harm to their citizens, he said, but many also hindered access by relief workers.  Supporting the call for countries to remove such barriers and to facilitate humanitarian access, he noted, that while it was important for United Nations relief agencies to work together efficiently, their efforts to alleviate suffering would never be enough on their own.  Governmental conduct was critical in mitigating harm to the citizens of each country and it was the primary responsibility of each State to provide for the safety and well being of its people.

The United States recognized that the international community had worked hard to improve its ability to predict natural disasters and to reduce the damage they caused through preventive measures, he added.  Moreover, there was concurrence on the need to follow emergency relief with a transition to development strategy.  Strengthened by transparent and accountable systems on the part of the host country, the international community could accomplish much in that area, as shown in Afghanistan.

EDWIN F. SELE (Liberia) said that, as the Secretary-General’s report had stated, Liberia was facing daunting problems in the areas of reconciliation, peace-building, reconstruction and recovery.  The Government had not succeeded in generating the required financial resources domestically and internationally to revive the economy to its pre-war level.  The report cited the selective sanctions imposed by the Security Council as one of the reasons for the severe decline in international aid since May 2001. 

Another major area of concern in the peace-building process in his country was maintaining internal peace and security, he said.  Since 1999, the Government had been engaged in fighting externally-supported, armed, non-State actors, who were determined to forcibly remove the democratically-elected Government of Liberia.  That conflict continued to create a serious humanitarian crisis, including IDPs and new Liberian refugees in neighbouring countries.  Regrettably, that unfortunate situation had reversed any gains realized pursuant to the installation of the democratically-elected Government in 1997. 

In a post-conflict era, delays in integration and reconstruction as well as inadequate external support usually undermined genuine efforts aimed at peace and recovery, he noted.  For its part, his Government would continue to take concrete steps that would stimulate economic growth such as fiscal prudence, public accountability and transparency.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) expressed his country’s concern that the CAP process, which the international community followed in dealing with humanitarian crises, allowed only specific NGOs, and without any clear explanation regarding the criteria used in inviting them.  He said it was important to conduct full discussions before deciding to invite certain NGOs to participate in the process, and to further discuss under what criteria they should be invited.

He said Japan also regretted that despite the great efforts it had put in, the need for humanitarian emergency assistance had been on the increase.  It was essential that humanitarian agencies, led by OCHA, define strategy and priorities, with a view to making use of the limited resources in the most effective and efficient manner.  He said that proactive, preventive efforts, if successful, could be far more cost-saving than reactive emergency relief efforts.

In addition to the financial assistance so far extended to OCHA, Japan was ready to provide about $2 million this year.  Further, it was considering extending more than $3 million of assistance to OCHA through the Trust Fund for Human Security, in addressing the problems of the internally displaced and information management.

MARGARIDA ROSA DA SILVA IZATA (Angola) said she wanted to thank all the Member States that had supported Angola, and had co-sponsored the draft resolution on the humanitarian situation in that country, as well as those delegations that had participated in the drafting process.

Angola had presented this draft resolution because the situation in the country remained very precarious, she added, as the Secretary-General’s report had shown.  Therefore, Angola called upon the international community and the United Nations agencies to continue to support the projects contained in the mid-term, and to be especially generous in their support for the 2003 appeal.  Finally, it was hoped that the draft resolution would be adopted by consensus.

JACQUES VILLETTAZ, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, reiterated that humanitarian action must be kept distinct from political and military action.  Their aims were fundamentally different.  The primary goal of military operations should be to establish and maintain peace and security to help progress, or sustain, a political settlement of a conflict.  While such settlements were key to ultimately ending suffering engendered by conflicts, it was crucial that, in the meanwhile, humanitarian actors be able to independently assist and protect the victims. 

Consequently, in its relations with the various armed forces, the Committee always strove to promote a better understanding and respect for each other’s respective role, constraints and working methods.  In that context, the Committee was concerned by what it perceived as a developing tendency -- particularly at the level of policy framework elaboration -- to increase military involvement in humanitarian operations. 

He stressed the absolute need to avoid any blurring of roles that might result from a militarization of humanitarian assistance.  That could seriously undermine perceptions of the latter’s neutrality, with the attendant consequences on the security of humanitarian workers.  Coordination also signified concerted efforts to safeguard that very independence and the strictly humanitarian nature of humanitarian operations.  Such efforts were necessary to maintain a working environment where humanitarian organizations could safely discharge their mandate.

ZOY KATEVAS DE SCLABOS, member of the Governing Board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and President of the Chilean Red Cross, said that the welcome increase of focus on transboundary preparedness and multilateral response mechanisms had provided an opportunity to look for new ways of addressing the problems of disasters.  The work done so far on disaster response was welcome, but there was a corresponding need for much more activity in the future on disaster preparedness.  Among the lessons learned in the past was that no single agency or organization could –- or should -– try to address the issue alone.  That was why the Federation, as well as its member national societies, had significantly increased their attention to building alliances and partnerships with other organizations. 

The Federation was also paying increased attention to the regional and subregional dimension of preparing for and responding to natural disasters.  It had established, for example, the “Pan-American Disaster Response Unit” of the Federation in Panama.  Also, arrangements were now being considered for the Federation to develop cooperation with all United Nations regional economic and social commissions.  Partnerships in the field of disaster response must be established with all those able to help make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable.   

The increasing number of actors in emergency assistance and disaster relief underlined the need for coordination, and recalled the central role of public authorities of the affected country, she said.  That was why the Federation continued to call for the establishment of national disaster plans and national coordination mechanisms. 

ROBERT G. PAIVA, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that with increasing threats to humanitarian aid workers, the IOM continued to reinforce its capacity to deal with staff security, in coordination with the United Nations Security Coordinator.  The Emergency Relief Coordinator and his staff in OCHA had played a critical role in forging an enhanced sense of community, shepherding closer collaboration and drawing valuable lessons.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee mechanism had contributed to improvements in information sharing and coordination among international agencies.

Being part of the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals Process was a key element of IOM’s involvement in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, he said.  Compared to when that process began, the current appeal showed rather striking progress in presenting a more comprehensive picture of the needs of a given situation and participating agencies’ coordinated plans for dealing with it.  The appeals process was a strategic planning and programming process, not just a resource mobilization tool.  It was sometimes puzzling that the pattern of response did not necessarily reflect the real improvements in the process nor the end product.

He said that the establishment of the Unit on Internal Displacement within OCHA was a further example of how coordinated action, combining the strengths of a range of agencies, could create stronger response mechanisms.  The IOM welcomed OCHA’s initiative in creating the IDP unit, as well as the open manner in which it had elicited participation from all Committee members.

Action on Drafts

The General Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolutions on:  -- International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/57/L.33); -- International assistance for the economic rehabilitation of Angola (document A/57/L.41); -- Emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and rehabilitation in Tajikistan (document A/57/L.42); -- Assistance to Mozambique (document A/57/L.46) and, -- Assistance for humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and development for Timor-Leste (document A/57/L.47) by consensus. 

Action on the draft resolution on Special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document A/57/L.43) was postponed.

Right of Reply

CHAIM SHACHAM (Israel), in right of reply, expressed condolences over the killing of Iain Hook, project manager of the Jenin camp rehabilitation programme of UNRWA and said Israel was conducting a thorough investigation of the events leading to his death.  He said Israel was sensitive to the humanitarian and economic needs of the Palestinian population.  In today’s debate, the Palestinian observer had referred to the deteriorating condition of the Palestinians, blaming Israel’s security measures as the cause of that deterioration.  Israel, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, had taken actions to improve the free movement of goods and labour from Palestinian territories into Israel.  Those actions had had significant positive impact on the Palestinian economy.

However, he continued, the decision of Palestinians to employ violence as a political tool had sabotaged Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and had left Israel with no other choice than to take certain security measures.  He stressed that the purpose of those security precautions was not to burden the Palestinian population but to ensure the security of Israeli citizens.  The challenge for Israel was to protect its citizens while minimizing the impact of tightened security on the Palestinian population.  Unfortunately, terrorists had used every easing of measures to carry out attacks.  If there was no terrorism, then there would be no need for tightened security and the resulting economic consequences. 

Ms. BARGHOUTI, Observer for Palestine, said that the Israeli statement was full of lies and distortions.  The real cause of violence and the deterioration of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories was the continued Israeli occupation and the continued military actions of Israeli forces.  That claim was not coming from her or her delegation.  She encouraged the Israeli representative to read the reports of the Secretary-General, which indicated that the main causes of the humanitarian and economic deterioration was Israeli military action. 

Israeli forces had resorted to committing the worst war crimes seen in history, including State terrorism, she continued.  Under the banner of security, they had used excessive force and demolished homes, all of which had a negative impact on the Palestinian economy.  The Palestinian Authority had condemned all forms of terrorism.  There was a difference between terrorism and the right of

people living under occupation to defend themselves.  That right came from international law, which legitimized the use of any means to resist occupation. 

Mr. SHACHAM (Israel), responding, said that he wished to elaborate on the death and injury of Palestinian children in the violence.  A few hours ago an eight-year-old boy was killed in Nablus while trying to hurl two pipe bombs at Israeli soldiers.  This abhorrent use of children was not unique, but had been actively promoted by the Palestinian Authority.  Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority had trained children in the use of weapons and encouraged them to become suicide bombers.  Instead of educating for peace, Palestinian textbooks openly taught hatred of Israel and Israelis, while materials broadcast in the media reinforced this hatred.  Children were urged to “drop your toys and take up arms”, while youth groups taught children to be holy warriors in the jihad against Israel and the Jews.

As the Palestinian Authority expanded its use of children in the violence, the age of suicide bombers was dropping by the day while attacks by teenagers had become the norm, he said.  Children had been used to transport weapons.  This constituted a violation of every treaty meant to protect children in conflict.  It was immoral and illegal.

Hundreds of Israeli children had been killed and wounded, he added.  This was not just incidental; they had been the intended targets of violence.  Although the suffering of every child was tragic and regrettable, there was a distinction to be made.  Most Palestinian children had been hurt during their direct involvement in acts of violence, while Israeli children were the intended and preferred victim of the perpetrator.

Ms. BARGHOUTI, Observer for Palestine, said that the Israeli representative’s statement was racist and, moreover, it was not accurate but full of lies.  Her delegation regretted the death or injury of any child.  She reminded the Assembly that 2,000 Palestinians had been killed since September 2000, one-third of whom had been children and most of whom had either died in their homes or in school.  Only a few had died where violence was taking place.  Furthermore, there had been more than 35,000 Palestinians injured, one third of whom had been children.

The Palestinian Authority did not exploit children, nor educate them to hate, she added.  The children had seen the destruction, the demolition of their houses, the killings of their parents and the closures.  That was how they had learned to oppose the occupation.  They had not seen one day of normal life during the 35 years of occupation, nor had they enjoyed the rights provided by the Universal Declaration.  The Palestinians loved life and their children as much as anyone else, she concluded, but the end of the occupation was the only way that the two peoples could live in peace.

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For information media. Not an official record.