New York

07 December 2006

Secretary-General's remarks at CERF high-level conference

Thank you very much, Jan, Madame President, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Earlier this year we launched the Central Emergency Response Fund mandated by the World Summit. Today, I am proud to tell you of its first results.

In just eight short months, the upgraded CERF has delivered on its promise to help those most in need; from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Lebanon to Liberia, the Fund has committed $230 million to over 320 projects in 30 countries.

When it became operational in March, famine haunted lives all across the Horn of Africa. Almost immediately, $25 million of CERF resources jumpstarted our humanitarian response in that theatre. Due to this lifeline, and to generous giving by bilateral donors, the United Nations not only helped avert a severe famine, we also ensured minimum food security for millions, and mitigated the spread of disease from a lack of clean water.

CERF's primary ethos is to be proactive and fair. It brings us closer to our goal of ensuring that no cry for help anywhere will go unanswered; that forgotten crises as well as headline disasters will receive the international community's attention and benefit from its resources. CERF allocations for under-funded emergencies help to fulfil that promise. Thus far, $77 million has been allocated to 18 countries with unmet emergency needs; 99% of this amount has addressed overlooked humanitarian needs in Africa.

Clearly, CERF has shown that it will provide assistance anywhere, and save lives everywhere.

It is innovative. It is flexible, and it saves lives. But above all, it succeeds because of strong support from you, its donors. To date, 52 Member-States have given to the Fund. I am grateful to each of them for their support, though I would particularly like to acknowledge contributions from developing nations: their giving –from very limited resources –shows a remarkable commitment to the promise of CERF.

CERF has also attracted other non-traditional donors, including the local Government of Hyogo Prefecture in Japan and the independent Disaster Resource Network. I hope their pioneering contributions will spur others, in the private sector and beyond, to support this important initiative.

Friends, in the quest to improve lives, CERF enables us to lead from the front. Indeed, in the critical realm of humanitarian assistance, it allows the United Nations to do more, and to do it sooner. And by alleviating suffering before situations spin out of control, it facilitates faster transitions to recovery and rebuilding.

Just this month, the High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence credited the upgraded CERF with “facilitating quicker, more effective [humanitarian] responses” and issued a call for a fully-funded CERF as early as possible.

Today, my dear friends, I repeat that call, and urge you once again to be generous in your support. I believe the record of the CERF speaks for itself; of course, I also hope that, in my final days as Secretary-General, and in my final appeal to you, that you will respond and respond generously and give again this year as you did last year. But if you don't want to give me that parting gift, it is also the last appearance of Jan Egeland and it is his last appeal, just like mine, before you. He has been a great leader in the humanitarian area, so maybe you should give him the gift if you don't want to give it to me and we determine how generous and what a farewell gift you are giving us by the contributions you make this morning. I know you will not disappoint us.

Thank you very much.