Unanimously adopting five resolutions on humanitarian issues, and one resolution on countering violent extremism, the General Assembly today heard from more than two dozen speakers as the 193-member body debated the past, present and future of international assistance to persons in need.
Under the terms of a resolution titled ”Participation of volunteers, “White Helmets”, in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/70/L.27), the Assembly recognized the work of the White Helmets initiative and encouraged it to continue to enhance coordination with the international humanitarian system and to explore mechanisms for sharing best practices on disaster response and preparedness with other regional organizations.
By the last text adopted, titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to provide economic and social aid to the Palestinians.
The deterioration of the situation on all fronts – humanitarian and socioeconomic as well as political and security – had compounded hardships endured by the Palestinian population living under Israel’s occupation, giving rise to even greater needs and making international humanitarian aid all the more imperative, said a representative of the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine in the debate preceding the adoption of the resolution.
Other crucial issues taken up by the resolutions adopted by the Assembly today included the urgent need for adequate funding to ensure the safety of aid workers, in a resolution titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel”, as well as to prepare for and respond to disasters, in a text titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development”.
Humanitarian needs were constantly growing, the Assembly heard, while funding was not keeping pace with that growth. The humanitarian system was buckling under the strain of crises of a scale never envisaged, said the representative of Australia. But the grave situation in Syria was not the only driver of increases in humanitarian emergencies, the United States representative cautioned, noting that while global attention and focus had recently been on the conflict in Syria and its spill-over effects on Europe, her country would continue to also focus on Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, the Sahel and Ukraine, among others conflicts.
Other delegations focused on the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul. The Summit’s outcomes should clearly set the future humanitarian agenda while identifying the issues, including the strengthening of humanitarian assistance, use of resources, and assisting refugees, the representative of Turkey said. The Russian Federation’s representative, however, expressed concern at insufficient preparation for the Summit.
Under a resolution titled “A world against violence and violent extremism”, the Assembly condemned the targeting of civilian populations by violent extremists, deplored attacks on religious places and shrines and cultural sites and urged all Member States to unite against violent extremism in all its forms. States, regional organizations, religious bodies and the media had an important role to play in promoting tolerance and respect for religious and cultural diversity. The Assembly also emphasized the importance of education as the most effective means to promote tolerance and prevent the spread of extremism.
At the opening of today’s meeting, the Assembly elected Iraq to the Committee for Programme and Coordination.
Also speaking at today’s meeting were the representatives of Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Sweden, South Africa (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Qatar (on behalf of Arab States) Ecuador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Thailand, Switzerland, China, Kuwait, New Zealand, Italy, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Canada, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Syria, Japan, Israel and Iran, as well as the European Union.
The representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies spoke, as did the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The General Assembly will meet again on Friday, December 11 at 10 a.m. to take up the agenda item of “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly: High-level meeting on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development”.
The General Assembly met today to elect a member of the Committee for Programme and Coordination and to hold a joint debate and take action on draft resolutions relating to strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations: including on special economic assistance; strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; assistance to the Palestinian people; and assistance to the survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, particularly orphans, widows and victims of sexual violence. It also met to take action on a draft resolution on a culture of peace.
On the first topic, the Assembly had before it the Secretary-General’s note titled “Election of seven members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination” (document A/70/355/Add.1).
On the strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, the Assembly had before it a report titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/70/383), an eponymous draft resolution (document A/70/L.25) and a draft titled “Participation of volunteers, “White Helmets”, in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/70/L.27).
On strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, the Assembly had before it a report by the same name (document A/70/77-E/2015/64), an eponymous draft resolution (document A/70/L.29), the Secretary-General’s report titled “Central Emergency Response Fund” (document A/70/96) and a draft titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/70/L.30).
On assistance to the Palestinian people, the Assembly considered a report by the same name (document A/70/76) and an eponymous draft resolution (document A/70/L.18).
Lastly, regarding a culture of peace, was a draft resolution titled “a world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/70/L.21).
Elections for Committee for Programme and Coordination
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, noted that pursuant to Assembly decision 42/450 and upon nomination by the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly elected the members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination. Referring to the Secretary-General’s note on the matter, document A/70/355/Add.1, he said Iraq had been nominated to fill an outstanding vacancy for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2017
Acting without a vote, the Assembly then elected Iraq as a member of that Committee.
Strengthening Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
Mr. LYKKETOFT said the reports before the Assembly demonstrated the challenges facing the international community as it sought to address an unprecedented level of humanitarian need across the world. Some 60 million people were displaced worldwide, half of them children. While the international community had responded by consistently increasing humanitarian assistance, as of 30 November, United Nations humanitarian response plans remained only 49 per cent funded. “A more proportionate, comprehensive and coherent response to today’s humanitarian and refugee crisis is urgently needed”, he stressed.
From recent Assembly meetings, it was clear that, while Member States were committed to advancing a more comprehensive response, doing so would require more leadership, more action and more resources, he said. In that regard, the Secretary-General had set forth a roadmap to address the crisis, including meetings in February and March 2016 to address both financing and resettlement needs respectively, related to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In addition, the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 would be an opportunity for the world to come together around a new deal for humanitarian action, and a high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants – to be held immediately prior to the General Debate in September 2016 – had also been proposed.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced two texts on the matter. Presenting the text titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/70/L.25), she said that, in 2014, 121 aid workers were killed, 88 injured and 120 kidnapped in the exercise of humanitarian work, and those were unacceptably high figures. Introducing the draft titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/70/L.18), she said it embodied the wish of the European Union and of the international community to help the Palestinian people.
CARLOS ZABALLA (Argentina), introducing the draft resolution entitled “Participation of volunteers, “White Helmets”, in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/70/L.27), said that a growing number of countries shared similar visions on providing humanitarian relief. As reflected in the draft, the White Helmets were an instrument of solidarity, oriented towards responding in situations of disaster. In Latin American, White Helmets had a prominent role in coordinating humanitarian relief. He said he trusted Member States would approve the draft resolution without a vote.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), introducing the draft titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/70/L.29), said that the Assembly’s annual adoption of that Humanitarian Omnibus resolution reaffirmed the United Nations leadership in coordinating and responding to global humanitarian needs. Its adoption by consensus highlighted the international community’s collective responsibility to respond to humanitarian needs, and reaffirmed the legitimacy of the humanitarian action of the United Nations. The 2015 version of the text contained a strengthened approach to humanitarian financing in order to respond to the growing gap between available resources and humanitarian needs. More needed to be done on that matter, he said, emphasizing the importance of the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing.
Continuing, he said that the text also contained new elements on the need to better tackle sexual violence and strengthen the role of women in humanitarian action, as well as a new separate paragraph specifically addressing the needs of children. Moreover, the text now contained new and stronger language on other important issues relating to the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, the needs of affected populations, and disaster-risk reduction and humanitarian response in the context of global health crises, such as the recent Ebola crisis.
Making a statement on behalf of his country and and India, he underscored the need for a new global partnership for humanitarian action and reaffirmed that humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law provided the basis for humanitarian assistance. Assembly resolution 46/182 called for collective efforts in responding to humanitarian crises, and it was a collective responsibility and moral obligation to address human sufferings. India and Sweden, in that regard, were committed to preserving and strengthening respect for and adherence to the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. However, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected during humanitarian action, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Lastly, he strongly condemned attacks directed against personnel involved in humanitarian or peacekeeping missions, and reaffirmed the need to end impunity for such acts.
MAHLASTE MMINELE (South Africa), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution, titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/70/L.30). The text was the result of consensus reached over three weeks of intense discussions, and took into consideration concerns of other groups and Member States.
He went on to say that the draft stressed the importance of international cooperation in supporting affected States’ efforts when dealing with natural disasters in all phases, including preparedness, response and early recovery. At the same time it recognized that affected States had the primary responsibility in the initiation, organization, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance within their territories. He also noted that the text contained new elements based on the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report, the Sendai Declaration and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
JOÃO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union Delegation, said “we live in a world in which crisis has become the new normal,” in which 60 million people remained forcibly displaced, 125 million required humanitarian assistance, and in which the international community remained unable to end entrenched conflicts. Humanitarian funding had nearly reached an unprecedented $10 billion this year. Yet, there was a huge inadequacy between global need, which was estimated at $20 billion, and the system’s overall response capacity. The World Humanitarian Summit should deliver outcomes and commitments by all actors in a number of key areas.
First, he said, respect for international humanitarian law – including safeguarding humanitarian access and combating impunity for violations – should top the agenda. The Summit must make aid more effective and accountable toward people it aimed to serve. Aid should systematically consider people’s needs, with women and girls given equal possibility to lead humanitarian action. The aid system must become more efficient through improvements by all actors, including donors and operators, as well as through common needs assessments, humanitarian response plans prioritized across agencies and sectors, and stronger field coordination. The Union, the world’s largest humanitarian donor, had enhanced aid and civil protection resources to match growing refugee needs. In third countries, it would enhance aid based on needs and vulnerabilities only. By enhancing the humanitarian action framework through a successor resolution to resolution 46/182 (1991), introduced by Sweden, the Assembly would help respond to the enormous humanitarian challenges.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that facing increasing humanitarian challenges required coordinating resources and reinforcing the international system to make it more efficient. Responding to such challenges was part of the Group’s work and was based on Arab values and principles of human rights. The Group coordinated humanitarian efforts in the region by getting involved at all levels. As a result of increasing humanitarian crises in the region, it was developing a system to respond better to them, with the Secretariat establishing a special mechanism. All efforts had to be based on principles of international law, international humanitarian law, respect for human rights, and especially principles of territorial integrity. The Group would participate in the World Humanitarian Summit next May in Istanbul, and sought results from the event because it was very important to the Group’s situation and that of the international community.
She went on to say that the Palestinian people faced a difficult economic and humanitarian situation because the practices of Israel, the occupying Power, violated the human and civil rights of Arabs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It also stifled the Palestinian economy while continuing the unjust and inhumane blockade against Palestinians. It was incumbent upon the international community to address those challenges by putting an end to the occupation, and help the Palestinian people establish an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Arab countries provided humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people and had their increased budget contributions to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to the huge budget deficit it faced and to meet the Agency’s appeals. The Arab States had also fulfilled their commitments in large part at the Cairo conference. The Group was ready to work with other United Nations organs, especially the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in responding to disasters, crises and conflicts.
DIEGO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed concern over the “continuous erosion” of respect for the principles and rules of international law and international humanitarian law. He urged Governments and other humanitarian actors to make efforts to strengthen capacities for understanding vulnerability and its causes, and reducing them, managing the risk of disasters and achieving community resilience. He also urged the United Nations to harmonize its systems of accountability and transparency and promote developing countries’ participation in its management and monitoring bodies. Noting the need for States and relevant humanitarian organizations to work closely with national institutions, the Community welcomed the initiative to hold the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) scheduled for October 2016 in Quito.
The upcoming Humanitarian Summit was an opportunity, he said, to rethink a multifaceted and complex international humanitarian architecture which had a true universal character and placed the human being at its centre. He called on States and other actors to incorporate a gender perspective and the empowerment of women during all phases of humanitarian action. It was also essential to tackle the underlying causes of the risks of disaster or conflict. Consequently, it was important to work together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to implement concrete actions at all levels to eradicate hunger. The Community’s Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025, which established a food supply and reserve programme for social and natural disasters, drew from existing capacities and experiences in the region.
FEDA ABDELHADY-NASSER, a representative of the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that it had been a year that had once again witnessed turmoil gravely affecting the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The deterioration of the situation on all fronts – humanitarian and socioeconomic as well as political and security – had compounded hardships endured by the Palestinian population living under Israel’s occupation, giving rise to even greater needs and making international humanitarian aid all the more imperative. Current assistance was helping to mitigate the serious challenges faced by the Palestinian Government in the context of nearly half a century of foreign occupation, and was alleviating suffering, giving opportunity and fostering hope. “Such assistance is providing relief and dignity to our people as they await the emergence of the political horizon that will ensure the realization of their inalienable rights and legitimate aspirations”, she said, adding that international help must continue until the realization of a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict.
Nevertheless, humanitarian aid could not be a substitute for a just resolution of the conflict in line with international law, she went on. Political action was needed to salvage the two-State solution. Palestine continued to appeal to the international community, including the Security Council, to mobilize the political will to redress the injustice, bring an end to the Israeli occupation and peacefully resolve the tragic conflict as a matter of priority. Describing the grim reality of the Palestinian people on the ground – including the eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, the unprecedented levels of devastation caused by the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 and the daily military raids and escalating violence – she went on to say that unemployment remained extremely high in the Occupied Territories and that the World Bank had recently assessed the economy of Gaza to be “on the verge of collapse”. In addition, following the 2014 military aggression by Israel, more than 100,000 Palestinian civilians remained displaced. As the international community embarked on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognizing the special challenges faced by people living under foreign occupation and colonial domination, “we insist that the Palestinian people cannot be left behind in this crucial global undertaking”, she concluded.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) emphasized that the humanitarian system was buckling under the strain of crises of a scale never envisaged. The situations in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan continued to cause “unimaginable” human suffering and unfulfilled demands for funding. In addition, disasters would affect 100 million people a year on average, and climate change would increase the risk, exposure and magnitude of natural hazards. In that regard, the Sendai Framework would be an important blueprint in the prevention of such hazards. The Sustainable Development Goals also represented cause for optimism. Catalysing humanitarian innovation to drive solutions and improve efficiency was crucial, and in that regard Australia had launched the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge focused on innovative solutions in the region. Expressing high expectations for the World Humanitarian Summit, Australia stressed that the forum must secure genuine, concrete commitments which would ensure the humanitarian system was able to address current and future challenges. It also must galvanize political commitment needed to enable transformative reforms.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that providing humanitarian assistance was the most important task of today’s world. The international community was witnessing an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. Resources provided by donors were insufficient, and the system was struggling. It was clear that the main reason for the growth in needs was the surge in conflicts. Humanitarian crises were also increasingly protracted in nature. The key to reducing unprecedented pressure on humanitarian response lay in the prevention of conflicts. The World Humanitarian Summit should provide opportunities that led to additional impetus to eradicate conflicts, he said, expressing concern at insufficient preparation for the summit. He referred to difficulties in south-eastern Ukraine, saying that in the period coming onto winter, the leadership was attempting to make living conditions unbearable. Energetic efforts by the Russian Federation’s leadership had been necessary to prevent negative humanitarian consequences. All measures had been undertaken to protect the Russian peninsula from energy blackmail by Ukraine.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), aligning himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that to ensure that present and future humanitarian operations were effective and sustainable, political will and commitment must be translated into concrete action at national, regional and global levels. For its part, Thailand had adopted a new National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Plan 2015, which incorporated the priorities for action of the Sendai Framework. At the regional level, Thailand had held an event aimed at familiarizing stakeholders with ASEAN’s regional mechanisms related to disaster management, through which all relevant sectors of ASEAN Member States would unite as one, responding to disasters. He urged for new approaches to be developed to ensure linkage between humanitarian and development assistance with a view to building resilience.
STEFANIE AMADEO (United States) said that 2016 would be an important year for humanitarian work and an opportunity to make measurable progress. Her country would participate in the Syria Pledging Conference in February because addressing that conflict was a top priority for them. She expressed pleasure that the Secretary-General had announced a high-level event in Geneva on examining durable solutions for refugees and looked forward to participating there. Turning to the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, she said their broad goals at the event included securing more humanitarian financing, improving coherence between development and humanitarian assistance and providing aid for women and girls in particular. Violent conflicts represented 80 per cent of the situations requiring a response from humanitarian organizations. The world was facing actors who displayed a disregard of humanitarian law and principles and contempt for human life. That may mean new ways of working as States faced critical challenges for the protection of civilians. While global attention and focus had recently been on the conflict in Syria and its spill-over effects on Europe, the United States would continue to also focus on Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, the Sahel and Ukraine, among others conflicts. It could not afford to forget the world’s other protracted crises, which were too numerous to mention.
JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said that more people than ever were now impacted by crises and conflicts and close to 60 million were displaced. He cautioned that humanitarian work must not be politicized. He noted that the five major humanitarian crises in 2015 were all linked to conflict. Risk management and vulnerability-reduction led to related costs. However, humanitarian requirements were covered because of the need to adopt new policies and act preventively while aware of risks and tackle the deep-rooted causes of conflict. On the risk of disasters, the Sendai Framework provided new evidence on comprehensively tackling the underlying factors of disaster. The World Humanitarian Summit afforded an exceptional opportunity for States to look at the humanitarian system to identify the best ways for it to meet the needs of the vulnerable. In the run up to the Summit, States must commit to work more closely with humanitarian agencies to bolster the system. Humanitarian challenges were all linked, and could not be tackled individually. It was important to coordinate efforts and share a common vision.
WANG MIN (China) stressed that international humanitarian assistance must comply with the principles of sovereign equality, non-interference in internal affairs and peaceful settlement of disputes enshrined in the Charter. Humanitarian responses must respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of host countries and avoid the politicization of humanitarian issues. The fundamental way to address the global humanitarian crises lied in the pursuit of peace and realization of common development. Factors like climate change, food and nutrition insecurity, water shortage and change in demographic structure had increased the risks of natural disasters and the vulnerability of mankind. Developing countries still faced serious constraints in resources and technological capacity. The international community must help them in effectively strengthening their risk management capability and preparedness, he said, calling on donors to further intensify efforts and provide more funding on flexible terms in response to humanitarian appeals.
SABAH AL-SABAH (Kuwait) said that his country supported the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group. Kuwait favourably viewed the draft resolutions for the Assembly’s consideration today. The specialized agencies and funds of the United Nations were important, as was participation at the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in May 2016, which would be a historical opportunity for States to commit themselves to a plan. Kuwait was concerned at recent developments in the security of United Nations personnel, many of whom were serving in dangerous locations. Turning to the Middle East, he said that lasting peace had to be achieved, so the Palestinian people could enjoy their legitimate rights and be recognized with an independent State on their own territory with East Jerusalem as its capital.
PHILLIP TAULA (New Zealand) expressed concern about the continued escalation in the number of people affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters worldwide. While funding commitments were increasing, the system was struggling to cope. To find lasting political solutions to long standing conflicts, the Council needed to address emerging crises and prevent conflicts. In addressing such challenges and making a positive change, the World Humanitarian Summit was a critical opportunity. Welcoming the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator’s recent updates on the Summit’s process and expected outcomes, she looked forward to increasingly close engagement between all partners to contribute to its success.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) aligned himself with the European Union’s statement, and said that to meet the commitment made in September to leave no one behind, the international community had to begin by assisting the most vulnerable, placing humanitarian needs at the center of the international agenda. Italy had done so by confronting the refugee crisis, making it a priority to save the lives of those who fled conflict and misery by crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Putting humanitarian needs at the center of the agenda meant working to ensure that international humanitarian law was respected, and that women, children and people with disabilities were better protected, and that fragility was replaced by resilience.
YAROSLAV GOLITISYN (Ukraine) said that his country had become the recipient of United Nations’ humanitarian aid as a result of the occupation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation and its military aggression in the Eastern part of the country. In that regard, he expressed appreciation at the Organization’s full adherence to the provisions of the Charter pertaining to the respect of States’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity. For its part, Ukraine was doing everything possible to meet the life-saving needs of the affected population, including through the allocation of pensions and social benefits. Recognizing the importance of ensuring safe and unhindered humanitarian access, he considered as unacceptable recent attempts of illegal armed groups to refuse such access in some areas beyond Government’s control. In addition to improving the provision of humanitarian assistance, it was necessary to strengthen the synergies obtained from knowledge-sharing and best practices replication, s/he noted. In that regard, the forthcoming thirtieth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster should serve as an opportunity to identify solutions that can be replicated for similar emergencies in the future.
HALİT ÇEVİK (Turkey) said while the global humanitarian system had made considerable progress over the years, the international community was facing tremendous challenges as more than 125 million people would need humanitarian assistance to survive in 2016. “The current international humanitarian system can no longer adequately address the increasing dimensions and complexities of today’s humanitarian crises”, he said, adding that it was States’ moral obligation to help those in dire need. As the third largest humanitarian donor, Turkey had provided $3.5 billion in official development assistance (ODA) and allocated $1.6 billion to humanitarian aid. However, further support was needed from other donors to cope with rapidly increasing demand. Turkey was fully committed to make the World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul in May 2016, a real success. The Summit’s outcomes should clearly set the future humanitarian agenda while identifying the issues, including the strengthening of humanitarian assistance, use of resources, and assisting refugees.
SADIA FAIZUNNESA (Bangladesh) said it was ironic that the world was experiencing the largest numbers of displacement due to conflict since the Second World War, just two months after adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Her country strongly supported the paradigm shift from emergency response to preparedness and resilience building. The humanitarian domain needed to adequately consider the root causes of adverse effects on the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. Redirecting critical funding away from development aid at the current pivotal time could perpetuate challenges that the global community had committed to addressing in the 2030 Agenda.
MICHAEL GRANT (Canada) said despite some extraordinary efforts, the international community had come nowhere near meeting humanitarian needs. One of the greatest challenges to alleviating suffering was to address the number of armed conflicts where monstrous brutality had been directed towards civilian populations. Member States had the power to demand political solutions, compliance and accountability, and to use their leverage to stop conflicts. Thus, it was absolutely necessary that they stepped up efforts to support international humanitarian support. Canada was pleased that the resolutions firmly recognized the importance of women’s and girls’ equal participation in all stages of decision-making. His delegation was also pleased that such resolutions had recognized the need to improve accountability at all levels to the needs of affected populations.
SUH SANGPYO (Republic of Korea) said a durable solution was needed to address “an unprecedented convergence of humanitarian challenges”. Without such a solution, a key element of the 2030 Agenda, namely human dignity and peaceful societies, could simply not be guaranteed. Humanitarian action was a top foreign policy priority for the Government of the Republic of Korea, which this year had provided a large part of its overall humanitarian assistant to emergencies in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. Disaster relief had also been sent to Nepal and Ebola-affected parts of Africa. With regard to humanitarian action, his Government believed that more priority needed to be given to those in the most vulnerable position, such as women, children and refugees. It was also essential to adopt new technologies to provide quality education in children in humanitarian situations. While the preparatory process for the World Humanitarian Summit was welcome, the United Nations humanitarian system was encouraged to further engage Member States and stakeholders. The Republic of Korea would do its part to ensure that the Summit was a success.
JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda) said that each year, the international community joined the Rwandan people in remembering the event which took place 21 years ago. The Government of Rwanda had allocated a certain percent of the budget to assisting genocide survivors, but the fund was suffering critical challenges relating to its daunting task. The support previously provided by the Government was under review to be mainstreamed into a general social protection strategy. As events of the genocide became more distant, support to survivors became more difficult. The challenge for survivors of genocide was in securing sustainable employment. With a view to meeting the needs of disabled and elderly genocide survivors, Rwanda also encouraged focus on vulnerable groups such as orphans and widows. She called on Member States and the international community to recommit to the promise of “never again” in the fight against genocide around the world.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) confirmed that the humanitarian assistance in action was what was most noble in the world, as long as it was motivated by moral principles. To resolve any humanitarian crisis, it was important to recognize the roots of the crisis. It was important to clarify that the suffering of Syrian people today lay in the following reason: terrorism. He expressed regret that the draft resolution didn’t include any reference to terrorism, despite repeated requests to include it. The resolution of the humanitarian crisis in Syria required all to fight terrorism. He expressed regret at the choice of Istanbul as the venue for the humanitarian conference.
HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan) said that the Global Humanitarian Overview, which had been launched on 7 December, estimated that $20.1 billion was required to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in 2016. That was five times the level of a decade ago. It was patently obvious that the continuing growth of humanitarian funding could not keep up with humanitarian needs. The international community had to address the root causes of humanitarian crises rather than continuously providing only reactive emergency assistance. The upcoming World Humanitarian Summit was an ideal opportunity for various stakeholders to gather, discuss and collaborate on common humanitarian issues.
DAVID ROET (Israel) said that, according to estimates published by the United Nations this week as many as 87.6 million people in 37 countries were in urgent need of humanitarian need. In the Middle East, the lack of access to besieged areas and the deterioration of civilian infrastructure had led to a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since the Second World War. The costs of taking action were high, but the price of not doing so was even higher. Israel was committed to extending humanitarian aid whenever and wherever it was needed. It had deployed search and rescue teams following the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year. When the Ebola outbreak struck West Africa, it had joined the international effort to contain the disease, sending basic medical equipment, drugs, protective gear and doctors. Israel was also the largest donor per capita to the Organization’s Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund, donating a total of more than $8 million. Those and other efforts in humanitarian outreach represented the spirit of Israel’s people and the nation’s character.
Such efforts by Israel were not limited to endeavours overseas, he went on to say. It made continuous efforts to improve the well-being of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It had been working closely with the United Nations to facilitate the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, upgrading the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings. Despite those efforts, the full reconstruction of Gaza would only be achieved when the Palestinian Authority assumed a more substantive role in Gaza. That had been recognized in the “Assistance to Palestinian People” draft considered by the Assembly today. Many in the chamber had blamed Israel and questioned its actions, but no answer had been provided as to why the Palestinian Authority continued to evade its responsibilities regarding governance in Gaza. Despite daily acts of terror against its citizens and incitement by the Palestinian Authority, Israel would continue humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, encouraging strong institutions and a vibrant economy.
AJAY MADIWALE, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said 2015 had been a critical year for multilateral agreements, many of which had important implications for humanitarian action. Such agreements included new frameworks for disaster reduction and financing for development as well as the 2030 Agenda. The principle of “leaving no one behind” could not be realized without addressing the needs of those caught in humanitarian crises. Affected people must be provided with critical lifesaving assistance and basic services such as health and education. Regarding the current displacement crisis, the scale of humanitarian operations was unsustainable and insufficient to provide adequate protection and basic needs to refugees, migrants and their host communities. On climate change, he underscored the need for States to come to an ambitious agreement in Paris, supporting vulnerable countries and communities. In that regard, investing in disaster-risk reduction and harnessing co-benefits with climate change adaption would be extremely important.
PHILLIP SPOERRI, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), underscored that much of the human suffering today was the result of a blatant lack of compliance with international humanitarian law by both State and non-State parties to armed conflict. It was they, and not humanitarian organizations, who had the primary legal responsibility for protecting civilians under their control. Despite coordination efforts made in recent years, the lack of access and security remained an important obstacle to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection. Governments should therefore make every effort to reach a renewed consensus on apolitical humanitarian action, including by not sponsoring or limiting such action for ulterior motives. Also, greater attention and understanding should be devoted to the question of how to better include and promote local acts in the overall humanitarian response, he said, noting that local humanitarian actors may sometimes be viewed with suspicion and consequently be prevented from engaging in protection activities. Lastly, he underscored the importance of closer links between humanitarian and development planning and financing, which would allow humanitarian organizations to plan and budget their development-related work over long-term periods.
The Assembly then adopted without a vote the five resolutions introduced earlier in the meeting.
By the first text, titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/70/L.25), the Assembly strongly condemned the deliberate targeting of humanitarian personnel and the unprecedented increase in the scale and complexity of threats against them, including politically and criminally motivated attacks. It also urged all States to take measures to ensure the security of humanitarian staff, including United Nations personnel and to ensure respect for the inviolability of United Nations premises. The Assembly underscored the urgent need for adequate funding to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel and encouraged all States to contribute to the Trust Fund for Security of Staff Members of the United Nations System.
By the resolution titled ”Participation of volunteers, “White Helmets”, in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/70/L.27), the Assembly recognized the work of the White Helmets initiative and encouraged it to continue to enhance coordination with the international humanitarian system and to explore mechanisms for sharing best practices on disaster response and preparedness with other regional organizations. It also invited the Secretary-General to keep considering the use of the White Helmets initiative as a resource for preventing and mitigating the effects of humanitarian disaster situations.
By the text titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/70/L.29), the Assembly asked the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator to continue strengthening the coordination and accountability of humanitarian aid and leadership within the Organization’s humanitarian response system. It encouraged Member States, the United Nations system, and humanitarian and development organizations to further assess, with the private sector and others, how innovation could be more integrated into humanitarian action. It asked the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the support provided to United Nations resident/humanitarian coordinators and to United Nations country teams, and asked him to report on actions taken to enable the United Nations to strengthen its ability to recruit and deploy staff quickly, effectively and flexibly, to procure emergency relief materials and services rapidly, cost-effectively and locally, where applicable, and to quickly disburse funds in order to support Governments and United Nations country teams in the coordination of international humanitarian assistance.
In the resolution titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/70/L.30), the Assembly, expressing deep concern at the increasing impact of natural disasters, reaffirmed the importance of implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. It emphasized the need to promote and strengthen disaster preparedness activities at all levels, in particular in hazard-prone areas. It encouraged Member States, the United Nations system and other relevant humanitarian and development actors to increase funding and cooperation for disaster risk reduction activities, including disaster preparedness. It also encouraged Member States to provide dedicated financial contributions to preparedness, response and recovery efforts in a harmonized, flexible and complementary manner.
By the last text adopted, titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/70/L.18), the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions and regional organizations to provide economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. It also stressed the importance of following up on the results of the 2014 Cairo International Conference on Palestine: “Reconstructing Gaza” to promote the enclave’s economic recovery and reconstruction.
Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Turkey categorically rejected the allegations of the Syrian regime. Turkey would continue to stand by the people of Syria.
In explanation of vote after adoption of the resolution, the representative of Israel said that his country fully supported the noble vision of calling for the world to unite against violence and violent extremism. The problem with today’s vote was not with the message, but the messenger. Iran calling for an end to violence was like a ventriloquist calling for the puppet to keep quiet. Iran was second on Freedom House’s list of the world’s most censored countries. Sponsoring the resolution did not change the reality, which was that Iran was the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism. The terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and other regional proxies were operating with Iranian funds, and at Iranian instruction. Iran was cynically taking advantage of the prestige of the United Nations to portray itself as a State seeking peace and moderation.
The representative of Canada said his delegation joined consensus on the resolution, noting that his State was a strong supporter of human rights. Recognizing the role of each State in ensuring a peaceful society and mindful of the objectives of the text, all States, in particular the main sponsor of the text, should comply with their international obligations, including for women, ethnic minorities and all religious communities.
In explanation of position, the representative of the United States said her country joined consensus on the resolution because it supported United Nations initiatives to counter violent extremism and that was a core element of its policy toward countering terrorism. Whether non-State actors or Governments, those who killed innocent people or fomented sectarian conflict were acting contrary to the values of human rights and inclusive societies called for in the resolution. Both at home and abroad, the United States’ countering violent extremism efforts included interventions against extremist ideologies. But it remained concerned that some Governments used efforts to counter extremism as a means to stifle civil rights, which went against human rights and their international obligations and may even lead to support for extremists. She looked forward to the Secretary-General’s Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism and to supporting regional and local initiatives underway to save youth from extremists.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said the representative of the Israeli regime had as usual levelled accusations against his country that were baseless and nothing other than a bunch of lies. The anger of that regime against the resolution was understandable because a regime that had created an apartheid system in the territories it controlled could not tolerate human rights, and thus considered the resolution to be against itself. The regime placed people under occupation, with harsh policies and practices condemned time and again by the international community, shamelessly flouting principles of international law and the civilized world. It was safe to say that the entire humankind was against the policy of putting people under occupation and siege and denying them basic rights and necessities as the Israeli regime was doing in Gaza. The suffering and humiliation the Palestinian people had undergone and the atrocities committed against them were a major source of anger and bitterness that extremists had tried to exploit to advance their own evil agenda. Iran was against the occupation inter alia because it was one of the main sources of violent extremism, and had done whatever was in its power to encourage moderation in its region.
Also exercising the right of reply, Syria’s representative said it was surprising to see the representative of Israel speaking in his first statement about helping people and “crying with pity” for those in Somalia, among other places. And yet, everyone knew about their practices against Palestinians as well as Syrians in the Occupied Golan. The Israeli occupation was the main reason for suffering in the region, and the main reason for extremism in the world; regarding their working with terrorists in Syria, it was true. Based on that, the Israeli regime was working against Syria’s proposals and goals.