ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

ECOSOC ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON STRENGTHENING COORDINATION OF EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS

ECOSOC ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON STRENGTHENING COORDINATION OF EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Concludes General Discussion under Humanitarian Affairs Segment
17 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon adopted a resolution on strengthening coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The Council also concluded its general discussion under the Humanitarian Affairs Segment and closed the segment.

In a resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (E/2013/L.20), ECOSOC requested the Emergency Relief Coordinator to continue to lead the efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance, and to continue to improve dialogue with Member States to ensure that all aspects and stages of humanitarian response addressed the specific needs of women, girls, men and boys, on an equal basis.  ECOSOC urged all actors engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance to fully commit to and duly respect the guiding principles contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 46/182 and called upon all States and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies, in particular in armed conflict and in post-conflict situations, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and delivery of supplies and equipment, in order to allow humanitarian personnel to perform efficiently their task of assisting affected civilian populations.

In the general discussion, speakers said that innovation had become a necessity in humanitarian action owing to increased humanitarian needs, and that it was essential to continue to modernize aid modalities.  One of the biggest humanitarian challenges the international community was facing was limited access to affected populations, for example in Syria and Afghanistan.   The fury of natural disasters recognized no geographical boundaries or fine lines between developing and developed countries.  Complex humanitarian emergencies were caused by armed conflict, demographic changes and chronic underdevelopment, and it was clear that humanitarian caseloads would continue to grow.  The territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries should be fully respected when offering them humanitarian aid, and the politicization of humanitarian assistance should be avoided.

Speakers also stressed that there had to be a focus not only on addressing the consequences of disaster but on reducing the underlying causes of vulnerabilities and enhancing the preparedness and resilience of people and communities.  Truly building resilience would mean breaking down the barriers between the humanitarian and development approaches.  By strengthening and broadening partnerships they could improve communication which in turn enhanced coordination and led to an increase in the effectiveness of response to emerging challenges. 

Speaking in the discussion were Finland, Pakistan, Norway, Syria, Belarus, Dominican Republic, China, Luxembourg, Israel, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Republic of Korea.

Also speaking in the discussion were Sovereign Military Order of Malta, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross,  International Organization for Migration, Organization for Islamic Cooperation, World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Vision, United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Population Fund,

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, in concluding remarks, said that humanitarian and development actors needed to work more closely together and with Governments and local communities on managing risks of humanitarian crises.  The resolution recognized the crucial role of women in decision-making and encouraged all to improve the integration of innovation into humanitarian action and its emphasis on pro-active engagements, sharing information and managing risks to reduce vulnerability was welcomed.

Masood Khan, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in concluding remarks, said that the opportunity to listen to experts, with perspectives from Member States, humanitarian organizations, people affected by crisis and the private sector was enriching and had allowed all to be better informed on how they could improve humanitarian assistance going forward.  More than 20 informal side events, more than ever before, were held on a broad range of important humanitarian issues, including funding for preparedness, and the importance of maintaining humanitarian space.  It had been a rich and stimulating discussion. 

The Economic and Social Council will resume its work on Thursday, 18 July, at 10 a.m. to begin its General Segment with a panel discussion with members of the Committee for Development Policy on the theme of “The road to development in the post-2015 era: Addressing emerging global challenges.”

General Discussion of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Finland said that innovation had become a necessity in humanitarian action owing to increased humanitarian needs and it was essential to continue to modernize aid modalities.  New technologies could transform humanitarian assistance by enabling the affected populations to have more of a say in decision-making and planning processes.  Finland urged humanitarian organizations to pay closer attention to the needs of persons with disabilities and the elderly.  

Pakistan said that the fury of natural disasters recognized no geographical boundaries or fine lines between developing and developed countries.  Complex humanitarian emergencies were caused by armed conflict, demographic changes and chronic underdevelopment, and it was clear that humanitarian caseloads would continue to grow.  The system needed to work more closely with national actors, communities, and financial institutions. 

Norway said that one of the biggest humanitarian challenges the international community was facing was limited access to affected populations, for example in Syria and Afghanistan.  The politicization of humanitarian action was an impediment to the delivery of aid to affected populations.  Norway expressed concern at sexual violence and rape used as a tactic of war, and said gender-related violence in war contexts had to be tackled.    

Syria said it had taken note of the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance and regretted that it made no mention of General Assembly resolution 56/182 which governed humanitarian work and stipulated the prior approval of the Government.  Regarding the situation in Syria, the Government had cooperated with many accredited humanitarian agencies and organizations to provide assistance to all those in need without distinction.  It rejected and condemned what was said by the Government of Australia that the Syrian Government impeded the delivery of assistance.

Belarus said that it supported the further strengthening of the United Nations’ coordinating capacity and the development of bilateral agreements in this sphere.  A key role had to be played by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  Belarus supported the efforts of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to mobilize funds.  It was necessary to expand resource bases.  Belarus supported the work of the Central Emergency Relief Fund; its work should continue, especially to resolve complex emergencies and disasters.

Dominican Republic said that for small vulnerable economy nations, often small islands such as itself, issues in the sphere of humanitarian assistance seemed to be more than ever timely and urgent.  The number of humanitarian crises would increase in the future due to climate change, giving rise to the question about how the international community could strengthen capacities to provide a prompt response to natural disasters.  It was hoped that the upcoming HOPEFOR international conference would be able to count on the participation of experts as well as support from various relevant bodies at the regional level. 

China said that the international community should act with a sense of urgency and deal with the complex humanitarian crises which had occurred in recent years.  The territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries should be fully respected when offering them humanitarian aid, and the politicization of humanitarian assistance should be avoided.  Strengthening innovation in humanitarian operations was crucial.

Luxembourg said that the question of humanitarian access should be addressed and violations punished, for example in Syria.  Bearing in mind that communication was crucial in disaster situations, Luxembourg had set up a satellite communication platform which made broadband available to humanitarian staff working in the field.  The aim was to provide a communication tool which would improve capacity to handle disasters.

Israel said that the dramatic rise in humanitarian needs together with the effects of the global financial crisis had increased the need for better coordination and for more effective use of innovation and technology.  Preparedness must be the core of humanitarian response, while investing in risk reduction and prevention measures were also important.  Israel had established national programmes to reduce the risk of disaster.

Brazil said that it supported programmes aimed at changing structural problems.  The structural approach of Brazil’s humanitarian cooperation aimed to empower individuals and communities to overcome social and economic vulnerabilities, in particular to achieve food security.  Brazil believed that States had the legal and political responsibility to reduce the risks faced by poor people, including by setting up systems that addressed underlying factors.

Venezuela said that it recognised the need to have rigorous and ongoing work on the creation and development of the capacity of delivering humanitarian assistance.  The growing magnitude of challenges could not be used as an excuse to run over sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Venezuela was concerned about how this issue was addressed in the report of the Secretary-General as the language used seemed to suggest that the consensus of the State was not a key element. 

Colombia said that it had come a long way in terms of disaster prevention and assistance at the national and local level.  Colombia had taken a holistic approach to the whole issue of disaster, including not only disaster response but also risk reduction, aimed at reducing vulnerabilities.  In prevention, emergency assistance, recovery and sustainable solutions, there were tactics pertaining to coordination at the national and local level to avoid duplication.  There was also a follow-up and evaluation process. 

Netherlands stressed the need for medical and humanitarian workers to be granted unimpeded access in accordance with international humanitarian law and without becoming a target themselves.  Risk reduction and resilience were particularly important and remained top priorities in the Netherlands’ humanitarian policy.  The Netherlands thanked Ms. Amos and her team for all their efforts to improve the situation of the most vulnerable in this world.  

Sri Lanka said that humanitarian challenges had significantly increased as a result of climate change.  It was necessary to devise an international system which would address the needs of those affected by climate change, including by introducing policies for funding and adaption.  Sri Lanka was aware of the necessity to address humanitarian needs in the aftermath of disaster and underscored that recovery of the population should be sustainable.

Republic of Korea said that it strongly supported the international humanitarian system and welcomed efforts to strengthen leadership, coordination and accountability in humanitarian operations.  The Republic of Korea was grateful to all humanitarian staff working in precarious situations despite the risks involved, and called upon host countries to take all necessary steps to ensure their safety.   

Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that in its experience, sustainable reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes combined with a strong development perspective contributed to increasing community resilience towards future incidents and at the same time making poor rural populations more resilient to the consequences of climate change.  By strengthening and broadening partnerships they could improve communication which in turn enhanced coordination and led to an increase in the effectiveness of response to emerging challenges. 

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that they had to focus not only on addressing the consequences of disaster but on reducing the underlying causes of vulnerabilities and enhancing the preparedness and resilience of people and communities.  Reducing risks and strengthening resilience, together with food security, healthier lives, water and sanitation were four key areas that it promoted to be included in a post-2015 agenda.  The need to maintain a regular dialogue between Member States and humanitarian actors was of particular importance.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that in all its work, UNHCR worked in partnership and cooperation with States, in a supportive and supervisory role.  It equally worked in close partnership and cooperation with United Nations organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations.  Involvement of concerned communities at all stages was important.  The important effort to strengthen humanitarian response through the Transformative Agenda was fully supported.  The magnitude of challenges in refugee and humanitarian emergencies in the past year were underscored. 

International Committee of the Red Cross said that in regard to the difficulties in accessing vulnerable populations in armed conflict, a particular challenge could be controversy over the existence of armed conflict and the applicability of rules under international humanitarian law.  The denial of humanitarian access could be catastrophic for the victims of armed conflict and violence.  The International Committee of the Red Cross called on all States to grant and facilitate access to ICRC and other impartial humanitarian organizations.  The International Committee of the Red Cross also drew attention to the issue of violence and insecurity against the delivery of impartial health care.

International Organization for Migration said that it had been providing life-saving assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons for the past 60 years.   Recent crises had forced millions of persons to flee their homes, either within their own country or beyond its borders.  Accountability to the affected population should be at the heart of humanitarian missions, and the international community should continue to fight against attacks on humanitarian workers.     

Organization for Islamic Cooperation said that humanitarian causes were among its top priorities, and it had created a specialized department within its Secretariat responsible for humanitarian affairs.  The Organization for Islamic Cooperation had intervened to offer assistance to the victims of natural disasters in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and was currently planning the creation of an emergency humanitarian intervention fund.    

World Health Organization said that in spite of demands and challenges, progress had been made.  Humanitarian agencies were working together more closely than ever before.  Good progress had been made with the development of the Transformative Agenda but much more remained to be done.  They had to build on the strong foundation for a more consistent application of the Transformative Agenda at the field level.  There was a need to more clearly position health outcomes as a responsibility of humanitarian action.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that the international community needed to remain vigilant and use new thinking and innovation to anticipate and respond to humanitarian needs.  This could be done by strengthening leadership and coordination, but also by increasing transparency through the creation of mechanisms for the population, including children, to provide feedback on programmes, voice concerns and suggestions for improvement, and participate in designing responses.  UNICEF had reinforced its monitoring to track performance against targets and was leveraging new communication technology.

World Vision said that it had witnessed first hand how ongoing armed conflict had disrupted, displaced and devastated the lives of millions of people, and the particular impact of disasters on children.  Earlier this month, World Vision suffered the loss of dedicated colleagues in Sudan and this was profoundly saddening.  World Vision urged the international community to ensure that humanitarian organizations were able to access persons in need safely.  Every party to a conflict had a responsibility to protect children from harm under international humanitarian law. 

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that it had taken an inter-agency initiative for risk reduction; preparedness was important, and UNDP was focusing on post-crisis support to populations living in countries which experienced crises.  Being on the front line in many countries, UNDP frequently experienced obstacles to delivering humanitarian access and its staff had experienced threats.

United Nations Population Fund said that when emergencies struck, lives could change in an instant and families and individuals could easily find themselves without basic things.  Young persons were especially vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and HIV infection.  Reproductive health rights were a priority issue, and no woman should ever die giving birth.  

Action on Resolution L.20 and Concluding Remarks

MASOOD KHAN, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, extended thanks to all Member States, United Nations agencies and organizations that had contributed to this year’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment, and in particular the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  Member States were thanked for advancing many important issues in this year’s resolution and for providing timely and coordinated assistance to millions of people and need.  Turning to resolution E/2013/L.20 on the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, new language on protection was used in the resolution and it encouraged efforts to provide quality education in emergencies, condemned attacks against medical personnel, and emphasized the role of women in decision-making processes in humanitarian response, among others. 

The Council adopted then resolution E/2013/L.20 by consensus.  
 
In a resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations (E/2013/L.20), the Economic and Social Council stresses that the United Nations system should continue to enhance existing humanitarian capacities, knowledge and institutions, and encourages the international community, the relevant entities of the United Nations system and other relevant institutions and organizations to support national authorities in their capacity-building programmes; requests the Emergency Relief Coordinator to continue to lead the efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance, and to continue to improve dialogue with Member States to ensure that all aspects and stages of humanitarian response address the specific needs of women, girls, men and boys, on an equal basis; urges all actors engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance to fully commit to and duly respect the guiding principles contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 46/182; calls upon all States and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies, in particular in armed conflict and in post-conflict situations, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and delivery of supplies and equipment, in order to allow humanitarian personnel to perform efficiently their task of assisting affected civilian populations; urges Member States to continue to prevent, investigate and prosecute acts of sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies; and requests the Secretary-General to reflect the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the present resolution in his next report to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly on the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.

VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Relief Coordinator, in concluding remarks, said that the 25 events organized this year in addition to the general debate were a testament to the high level of interest in the Humanitarian Affairs Segment.  Humanitarian and development actors needed to work more closely together and with Governments and local communities on managing risks of humanitarian crises.  Panel discussions this week had provided many examples of how best to harness innovation in order to improve humanitarian response.  The challenges for humanitarian organizations which operated in conflict and post-conflict settings were addressed through a number of events.  The Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeals was launched today.  At mid-year, there were 20 appeals requiring a total of $12.9 billion and only 40 per cent of the funds needed had been received so far.  During the general debate many delegations stressed the importance of respect for humanitarian principles by all actors engaged in humanitarian action.  Delegations had supported the humanitarian community’s increasing efforts in preparedness, capacity building and resilience.  Improving the system’s effectiveness, accountability and leadership was another issue raised by many speakers.  The resolution recognized the crucial role of women in decision-making and encouraged all to improve the integration of innovation into humanitarian action.  Ms. Amos welcomed the resolution’s emphasis on pro-active engagements, sharing information and managing risks to reduce vulnerability. 

MASOOD KHAN, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in concluding remarks, said that the opportunity to listen to experts, with perspectives from Member States, humanitarian organizations, people affected by crises and the private sector was enriching and had allowed all to be better informed on how they could improve humanitarian assistance going forward.  More than 20 informal side events, more than ever before, were held on a broad range of important humanitarian issues, including funding for preparedness, and the importance of maintaining humanitarian space.  Innovation in humanitarian action had also been a strong theme.  The humanitarian fair had showcased innovative tools the humanitarian system was already adopting and it should be encouraged to continue to do this.  It had been a rich and stimulating discussion. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/026E


Related Information