ECOSOC HOLDS PANEL ON PREDICTABLE, EFFECTIVE, FLEXIBLE AND ADEQUATE HUMANITARIAN FINANCING AND ITS ACCOUNTABLE USE
Continues General Discussion on Special Economic, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
20 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today held a panel discussion on preparing for the future – predictable, effective, flexible and adequate humanitarian financing and its accountable use to meet the evolving needs and challenges for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and continued its general discussion on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
Jan Grauls, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the report of the Secretary-General outlined some of the progress made in the humanitarian financing system over the past decades, but also pointed to some remaining challenges in ensuring that the structure was able to effectively respond to current and future trends, affecting humanitarian assistance such as financing for transition and preparedness. Mr. Grauls hoped the panellists would help the Council to understand how the humanitarian financing system could be strengthened to meet future humanitarian needs, while ensuring a rapid and well-coordinated response.
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, moderator of the panel discussion, said that given the intensity, frequency and complexity of ongoing crises, it was clear that funding requirements for humanitarian action would rise. It was necessary to ensure that partners in the field had the necessary resources to prepare for disasters before they occurred and to respond immediately and effectively in order to provide the necessary means for recovery. It was important that resources were predictable and could be used in a flexible manner, but ensuring accountability was also necessary.
Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Food Programme, indicated that preparedness saved lives and in order to fund the kind of preparedness necessary for responding to emergencies, funds needed to come in well before disasters. Funding needed to be predictable, flexible and sustainable over time. How results were measured and demonstrated had to be re-examined and this would require a significant shift in how funds were provided. Recovery and development had to be built into emergency responses. Increased predictable, multi-year funding was needed to make a difference in this regard.
Ahmed Almeraikhi, Director, International Development Department, Qatar, said Qatar wished to strengthen solidarity in humanitarian effort and its assistance was not limited to Arab or Muslim countries; Qatar for example had provided assistance to Haiti and Japan. Qatar’s provision of humanitarian assistance was being broadened to include other geographic regions and diversified efforts, not only bilaterally but also through multilateral and international organizations. Regional humanitarian mechanisms were also encouraged, such as the first humanitarian conference that took place in the margins of the Arab Summit in Doha, and humanitarian action in the context of the work of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank, said the panel was helping to better define the problem, sequence the response, and plan funding. Pooled funding mechanisms could meet needs in regional emergency response and disaster preparedness, and dealing with situations before they became disasters. If communities were prepared, they could avoid liquidizing assets and jeopardizing long-term development, as was happening in the Horn of Africa. The African Development Bank looked to long-term solutions for responding to and building resilience for disasters, although it would be providing financing for disaster response for the current situation.
Peter Bakker, former Chief Executive Officer, TNT (Netherlands), said that the private sector was increasingly capable to work as a partner in the humanitarian field. Though it would take time to make these partnerships effective, this could be achieved. The private sector acknowledged the desire of humanitarian organizations to make a difference and would like to be part of these efforts and help as long as things got done, rather than talked about. The private sector should not be seen only as an alternative source of funding, but it should be recognized that its most important assets were their skills, expertise and their capacity to make the work and spending by the United Nations more effective.
António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the right balance between humanitarian aid and development cooperation was required. No development strategy could respond to a starving child in Somalia. If humanitarian situations were not addressed, the future of countries, in economic and political terms, was put into jeopardy. Cooperation among humanitarian actors was highly developed; thus investing in the humanitarian sector was effective and moved forward coordination in other areas. Prevention was cheaper and reduced suffering, but the international community had difficulties addressing prevention and had not learned how to make the transition between relief and development effectively.
During a discussion moderated by Ms. Amos, speakers expressed support for the multilateral humanitarian assistance system. The future would present challenges to international humanitarian assistance. The need for predictable, flexible and long-term funding would increase over the next few years. More flexible response mechanisms were needed to strengthen the system of response preparedness. Speakers expressed a commitment to establishing a humanitarian system that was effective, accountable and saved lives. Strengthening accountability was an important factor in maintaining and increasing support. Speakers believed that all humanitarian actors needed to communicate their impact and outcomes of their work. More funding, drawing from both humanitarian and development financing, was required for transitioning from relief to recovery and laying the foundation for sustainable development. Augmenting evaluations, warning systems, land use planning and other preventive strategies saved lives and reduced costs in the case of disaster response. Preparedness, resilience or risk reduction was difficult to integrate into development funding; however, improving transition financing raised fears that humanitarian funding would be compromised.
Representatives from the United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States, Ghana, Sweden, Finland, Senegal, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction made statements.
In the general discussion on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, speakers noted progress in promoting a coordinated humanitarian response to natural disasters and other crises. The thematic discussion was of particular relevance given the present context of increasing vulnerability and humanitarian need resulting from new and ongoing global challenges. In order to effectively address the needs of affected populations, the level of coordination with the affected States should be improved and resources should be provided in a more predictable, transparent, accountable and needs-based manner. Speakers reiterated their commitment to the guiding principles for the provision of humanitarian assistance contained in General Assembly resolution 46/182, which cited the importance of respecting sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity in providing humanitarian assistance. It was of utmost importance to acknowledge and include beneficiaries in planning activities. Preparedness was a key prerequisite for tackling disasters, risk reduction and mitigation. It was necessary to move away from focusing solely on disaster response and start to truly include preparedness and risk reduction as essential components of development. There was now an ever greater need to reach out to new and emerging donors and call on donors to increase funding. Speakers emphasized that partnership with the private sector should be strengthened in order to benefit from their skills and knowledge.
Taking the floor in the general discussion were Israel, Thailand, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, Ukraine, Brazil, Pakistan, Estonia, India, Azerbaijan, Colombia, China, Morocco, Bangladesh, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Organization for Migration and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The Economic and Social Council will meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 21 July, when it will hold a panel discussion on “Strengthening resilience, preparedness and capacities for humanitarian response” followed by a question-and-answer session. In the afternoon, starting at 3 p.m., the Council will hold a special informal event on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa, followed by a continuation of the general discussion on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. The Council will then take action on draft resolution E/2011/L.33 and conclude the Humanitarian Affairs Segment.
Panel discussion on “Preparing for the future –– Predictable, effective, flexible and adequate humanitarian financing and its accountable use to meet the evolving needs and challenges for the delivery of humanitarian assistance”
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the fact that Member States chose the topic of the panel was testimony to the shared concern about the challenges facing the international humanitarian response system, due to the increasing humanitarian caseload and the continuing impact of the financial and economic crisis on national budgets. The Secretary-General in his report outlined some of the progress made in the humanitarian financing system over the past decades, but also pointed to some remaining challenges in ensuring that the structure was able to effectively respond to current and future trends, affecting humanitarian assistance such as financing for transition and preparedness. Mr. Grauls hoped the distinguished panellists would help the Council to understand how the humanitarian financing system could be strengthened to meet future humanitarian needs, while ensuring a rapid and well-coordinated response.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, moderator of the panel discussion, said that given the intensity, frequency and complexity of ongoing crises, it was clear that funding requirements for humanitarian action would rise. It was important to ensure that partners in the field had the necessary resources to prepare for disasters before they occurred, and to respond immediately and effectively, in order to provide the necessary means for recovery. It was important that resources were predictable and could be used in a flexible manner, but ensuring accountability was also necessary. Over the years, different financing mechanisms, such as consolidated appeals, pooled funds, and the Central Emergency Relief Fund, had been developed in order to support humanitarian efforts and lead to more focused appeals. But in the light of the challenges ahead, the international community should do more to work in partnership and ensure that the humanitarian financing system met the existing challenges, for example, by improving coordination and capacity building. Alternative financing tools, a broader donor base, and innovative partnerships with the private sector and international financial institutions were needed as part of different arrangements; and Ms. Amos hoped that the panel would help address some of these challenges.
Statements by Panellists
AMIR ABDULLA, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Food Programme, said it was clear that preparedness saved lives, and this was playing out today in the Horn of Africa. In areas where people had been allowed to help themselves and be prepared, the most tragic situations had been avoided. It was a tragic truth that humanitarian funding came at the height of major disasters that were in the eye of the media. In order to fund the kind of preparedness necessary for responding to emergencies, funds needed to come in well before disasters. Funding needed to be predictable, flexible and sustainable over time. Preparedness that came over the years was the best way to support national governments, communities, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations to get preparedness up to a level where they could respond to disasters and crises. This was not a revelation, but it seemed to be a chicken and egg situation. To provide funding, donors rightly wanted to see results, but in order to have substantial impacts, funding was needed. Proper accountability needed to be in place and results should be shown from collective action. How results were measured and demonstrated had to be re-examined. This could be done, but it would require a significant shift in how funds were provided. There was much discussion on where preparedness funding could come from. There had to be a way to pull funding together. Funding tended to be fragmented, sectoral and did not lend itself to pursuing a coherent approach. Accountability frameworks put pressure on agencies managing coordination and some of mechanisms in place were important but required resources, particularly resources not linked to a particular emergency. These types of funds were generally sourced from core funding streams, which were currently being cut. Governments, communities and agencies had to build resilience and preparedness to respond to emergencies. Recovery and development had to be built into emergency responses. Children needed to be put back into school and health services for pregnant women had to be provided. Increased predictable, multi-year funding was needed to make a difference in this regard.
AHMED ALMERAIKHI, Director, International Development Department, Qatar, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to inform the Council about Qatar’s humanitarian efforts, assistance and support to deal with challenges in different parts of the world. Given that Qatar provided aid and was interested in providing this assistance, the Government had taken significant measures in the past years. It had created an International Development Department, developing partnerships with organizations in the humanitarian field in the service of humanity; the Qatari Development Fund dealt with loans and assistance; and the Foreign Assistance Committee provided assistance and relief and promoted efforts towards the development of humanitarian organizations in Qatar. Qatar wished to strengthen solidarity in humanitarian efforts and its assistance was not limited to Arab or Muslim countries; Qatar for example had provided assistance to Haiti and Japan. The provision of humanitarian assistance was being broadened to include other geographic regions and diversified efforts, not only bilaterally but also through multilateral and international organizations, such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with which a memorandum of understanding was being drafted; and through partnerships with other organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It was important to partner with different organizations to ensure the presence of humanitarian organizations, particularly Qatari organizations, in international fora, and complementary work by state and non-state actors. Regional humanitarian mechanisms were also encouraged, such as the first humanitarian conference that took place at the margins of the Arab Summit in Doha, and humanitarian action in the context of the work of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In order to bridge the gap between governmental and non-governmental organizations, the Government had set up search and rescue organizations which had taken action in emergencies in Pakistan and Haiti; and had worked to build local capacity and leadership in cases of crises in order to ensure an effective recovery process and follow up to the assistance provided by States.
DONALD KABERUKA, President, African Development Bank, said the panel was helping to better define the problem, sequence the response, and plan funding. This was not the first time an emergency situation in the Horn of Africa had emerged. A good study by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that rarely did events of this nature happen suddenly, but they were the consequence of issues emerging over a long period. This was the case in the Horn of Africa. Mr. Kaberuka agreed that a pooled funding mechanism could meet needs in regional emergency response and disaster preparedness, and dealing with situations before they became disasters. If communities were prepared, they could avoid liquidizing assets and jeopardizing long-term development, as was happening in the Horn of Africa. The African Development Bank looked to long-term solutions for responding to and building resilience for disasters, although it would be providing financing for disaster response for the current situation. Building underlying productive capacities, making markets function and enhancing management systems were the capacities of the African Development Bank. It was difficult to accept that these kinds of situations on the African continent could not be managed before they became a disaster. What was happening in the Horn of Africa was a combination of many issues but generally, contingency planning and risk management had failed. Mr. Kaberuka emphasized the need for division of labour. The African Development Bank, like other international financial institutions, was not equipped to provide immediate humanitarian responses, but would work towards long-term resilience and preparedness.
PETER BAKKER, former Chief Executive Officer, TNT (Netherlands), said that 10 years ago TNT developed a partnership with the World Food Programme providing in kind actions rather than direct financial contributions. Why did the private sector involve itself in humanitarian assistance? Globalization offered opportunities to companies which were increasingly growing from home markets to everywhere in the world and companies could not turn a blind eye to the problems faced elsewhere. When TNT became aware that every six seconds a child died of hunger or hunger related causes, being a leading logistics company, it could not but engage and contribute to a solution, in the spirit of what was now called corporate social responsibility. The private sector was increasingly capable to work as a partner in the humanitarian field. Although it would take time to make these partnerships effective, this could be achieved. The private sector acknowledged the desire of humanitarian organizations to make a difference and would like to be part of these efforts and help as long as things got done, rather than talked about. The main contribution of TNT to humanitarian efforts during the past 10 years was not in the financial value of its contributions, an estimated $ 100 million, but in the value of actions in kind and the use of its assets.
Surprisingly, the report of the Secretary-General did not mention the private sector in its concluding paragraphs. In order to promote the participation of the private sector, the United Nations system should become more accessible. It was difficult for a company to understand the United Nations. The private sector should not be seen only as an alternative source of funding, but it should be recognized that their most important assets were their skills, expertise and their capacity to make the work and spending by the United Nations more effective, for example by improving logistics and ways of reaching the people. The United Nations and the international community should think more entrepreneurially and Mr. Bakker expressed satisfaction to hear that crises were becoming more predictable and argued that consequently responses should be more professionally. In order to effectively plan for future emergencies, investments in logistics and food should be made in advance and the donor community should find ways of achieving this. The private sector was available and the international community should make use of it.
ANTONIO MANUEL DE OLIVEIRA GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees enjoyed an excellent relationship with the donor community. In five years, the High Commissioner had expanded activities by 80 per cent. Whenever there was an issue, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been able to find support. Regarding whether there was sufficient humanitarian funding, financing needs of the sector were rather small compared to total development needs. However, much more could be done with the present capacities if more funding was available. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was being funded between 50 per cent and two-thirds of available capacity. The right balance between humanitarian aid and development cooperation was required. Even so, many comments related to spending on prevention suggested that spending on humanitarian aid was the result of development aid not well spent. No development strategy could respond to a starving child in Somalia. If humanitarian situations were not addressed, the future of countries, in economic and political terms, was put into jeopardy. Mr. Gutteres believed that in the broader context of international cooperation, the humanitarian sector was one of the better managed sectors with the least waste. Cooperation among humanitarian actors was highly developed. On the development side, cooperation between the United Nations system and international financial institutions, for example, was much less effective. Investing in the humanitarian sector was effective and moved forward coordination in other areas.
With regards to humanitarian aid earmarking, funding was often made available for geostrategic reasons or because of media attention. Providing un-earmarked funds, however, strengthened emergency responses. Building trusting relationships with donors was important in this regard. Donors did not want funds to go into the perceived waste of international organizational structures. International organizations should be determined to reform themselves to be effective and transparent, accept independent evaluations, and have donors increase un-earmarked funds. Earmarked funding went to one objective, but un-earmarked funds could often go to several objectives or situations. More could be done with un-earmarked funds. Mr. Guterres fully agreed that more parties needed to broaden partnerships. Nontraditional donors were important, but most funding went through bilateral streams and so organizations needed to make the case that multilateral aid was just as effective. The private sector needed to be seen not just as a funding source, but as partners that could contribute to effectiveness. There were also many opportunities for working with foundations and the general public. A lot had been said about contingency planning and risk management, but prevention was still an issue. Prevention was cheaper and reduced suffering, but the international community had difficulties addressing prevention. Prevention did not make the news. The international community had not learned how to make the transition between relief and development effectively.
Speakers expressed support for the multilateral humanitarian assistance system. The future would present challenges to international humanitarian assistance. The need for predictable, flexible and long-term funding would increase over the next few years. More flexible response mechanisms were needed to strengthen the system of response preparedness. Speakers expressed a commitment to establish a humanitarian system that was effective, accountable and saved lives. Strengthening accountability was an important factor in maintaining and increasing support. Accountability to affected populations was important for ensuring that humanitarian funds were used effectively. Panellists were asked for their recommendations on how to strengthen accountability to affected populations and support humanitarian actors in this regard. Impact reporting was crucial. Speakers believed that all humanitarian actors needed to communicate their impact and outcomes of their work. It was only by better demonstrating how needs were met and results achieved that financing for further action could be secured. Speakers said appeals had to be based on better coordinated assistance, which was strategic and based on collective strategy. Speakers asked how the collective reporting of outputs and outcomes could be strengthened. They inquired how the humanitarian community could further promote common needs assessments.
More funding and drawing from both humanitarian and development financing was required for transitioning from relief to recovery and laying the foundation for sustainable development. Augmenting evaluations, warning systems, land use planning and other preventive strategies saved lives and reduced costs in the case of disaster response. Preparedness, resilience or risk reduction was difficult to integrate into development funding. Speakers asked what could be done to further promote the inclusion of disaster risk reduction into development strategies and planning and to mobilize financing for this purpose. However, improving transition financing raised fears that humanitarian funding would be compromised. Speakers asked how to strike a balance between humanitarian aid and long-term development in providing funds. They requested more information about systematic response capacities related to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and pooled funding.
When considering humanitarian financing sectors, a balanced approach should be used, considering a full array of funding mechanisms. Good humanitarian financing was not defined by one particular mechanism, but should be determined by predictability, flexibility and timing. Instead of developing new financing mechanisms, the United Nations should strive to make use of existing current ones. Speakers inquired what potential was present for strengthening the efficiency and transparency of pooled funds. Over recent years, humanitarian actors had made strides to increase the funding base for humanitarian assistance by engaging new donor countries and approaching the private sector. Speakers asked how the panel would evaluate the progress made in broadening the donor base and how efforts could be further advanced. Speakers asked how the enthusiasm of the general public and the private sector could be channeled into effective response mechanisms. They were interested to know how prospects of using private sector funds and support related to humanitarian principles, such as independence. Speakers asked how the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs planned to take this in account in working with the private sector.
Speakers commended the Economic Community of West African States for being a forward-looking institution. They asked if it was possible for the African Development Bank with the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to produce a lessons learned report based on the Economic Community of West African States’ peace fund. Regarding the current food crisis, there was a dependence on certain food crops. A strategy for diversifying food production, but also taste buds, was needed. Speakers asked if the situation of Haiti represented a special situation, and what could be learned from the international response.
The United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States, Ghana, Sweden, Finland, Senegal, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction took the floor in the question-and-answer session.
Responses and Concluding Remarks
AHMED ALMERAIKHI, Director, International Development Department, Qatar, said that the questions addressed essential issues, and some solutions had been presented. It was a matter of cooperation and complementarity among different sectors. It was important to make the most out of the private sector. The public sector, non-governmental organizations and the private sector were complementary; if this could be achieved on a broader scale it would be possible to reduce duplication of efforts. When participation and responsibility were shared in the framework of a programme or specific projects, then fewer efforts were needed and in particular concerning accountability, with regards to monitoring and evaluation. When several partners participated efforts made were more effective.
AMIR ABDULLA, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Food Programme, responding to points made by Norway and the United Kingdom, said that seen from a beneficiary point of view there was an artificial barrier between humanitarian relief and development assistance. Some of the barriers were set up by the architecture and language dividing efforts between development and humanitarian aid, although, development efforts addressed human beings and were therefore also humanitarian. Transition was not linear and while they often talked about the continuum from relief to development, this was not a continuum but a pendulum. They should aim to make the pendulum swing as far as possible towards development, pushing people as far out of poverty as possible so that when there were shocks these would not pull back people as far as to humanitarian emergencies. Agencies and organizations had made significant strides in these areas, what needed to catch up were the funding mechanisms. Activities were often boxed by funding labels. The humanitarian system was making significant efforts but a way forward away from the current architecture and artificial barriers was needed. Better holistic reporting on outcomes was necessary. Often funding mechanisms or streams drove towards an outcome-directed approach and a lot of the reporting was driven in that direction. This was one of the things that had to be addressed. Within the World Food Programme there had been a significant expansion of partnerships with the private sector. Flexible and multi-year funding had allowed forward purchasing and financing mechanisms and those efforts, for instance by allowing for food purchases in advance rather than in the context of crises and high prices. This provided some of the best results
PETER BAKKER, former Chief Executive Officer, TNT, said regarding expanding the donor base, there were examples where this worked well. In general, the international community needed to abandon its fear of the private sector. Skepticism remained and international institutions were wary of trusting the private sector, despite a good track record on the part of many companies. Mr. Bakker called on all organizations to undertake a needs analysis. Organizations needed to assess their needs, examine which skills were required to fill gaps and see how companies could provide talent and expertise. Making the United Nations more accessible to the private sector was also important. Mr. Bakker suggested establishing a global business council to make it easier for companies to have better access to the United Nations. On accountability, there were four major accounting firms in the world and they could provide state-of the-art reporting tools to demonstrate the impact of operations in the field.
ANTONIO MANUEL DE OLIVEIRA GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that developing a set of instruments to assess needs and detect results could produce a vision of what was specific and common to humanitarian response organizations and international development institutions. Agreeing on a common set of issues, for which the same approach could be used, would be useful and prevent the dilution of responsibilities. However, such an exercise should also allow for responding to specific requests. A simple and effective mechanism for reporting was required. Common funding at the country level could be improved. Independent instruments of evaluation needed to be administered. Regarding transition questions, there would not be a solution to a global approach to transition if coordination was limited to the United Nations system. Cooperation with international financial institutions and bilateral development programmes was required. Prevention was also an essential question. The only way to establish prevention mechanisms was to mainstream prevention in development strategies and through dialogue among governments and international organizations. While the donor base was being broadened, not enough was being done. The private sector was a source not just of funds, but of expertise and talent as well.
DONALD KABERUKA, President, African Development Bank, said that it was important to put the discussion in context. While in the sixties there were crises in Africa, India and Pakistan, these crises in the subcontinent were now fewer and this was a question that must be answered. There was a difference between real emergencies and those endemic or recurrent problems. Mr. Kaberuka emphasized that resilience mechanisms were built at the community, local and regional levels, with the exception of failed States. The work of the international community was often overemphasized, while not enough emphasis was placed on what communities did. Humanitarian organizations were highly accountable and should not be bothered with requirements for further accountability mechanisms. However, for the international community to be accountable for preventing problems that were recurrent, an emphasis on local and regional measures was needed. For example, in the Sahel simple initiatives such as strengthening the capacity of national meteorology departments; addressing food security in a regional context; looking at regional markets and networks; and in the Horn of Africa mechanisms for managing livestock and purchasing power could all make significant contributions to preventing crises.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that there were efforts to expand partnerships with the private sector, in particular, on the basis of identifying those areas where private sector involvement would be more beneficial rather than requesting financial contributions.
DONALD KABERUKA, President, African Development Bank, commended the upstream work carried out by the Economic Community of West African States in preventing a crisis in the West African subregion; this had minimized what could have been a major humanitarian crisis. The international community should aim to strengthen the Economic Community of West African States, one of the few organizations in the continent capable of acting upstream to prevent a crisis. Given the importance of the local and regional approach, Mr. Kaberuka said he was happy to work with the Economic Community of West African States committee, and further emphasized the importance of building resilience at local and national levels. Concerning the pooling of funds, room was necessary for best practices and competitive delivery. Different organizations, including the private sector, could bring important skills and competencies to the table. Pooled resources should not mean pooled practices, but an effective distribution of labour. Building resilience, as done in Africa and Bangladesh, could contribute to preventing crises as well as the inclusion of market based instruments which had become increasingly sophisticated.
AMIR ABDULLA, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Food Programme, said that the World Food Programme attempted to buy local food to the extent possible and from as close as possible to the area affected, reducing transportation costs and stimulating regional economic development, and meeting local or similar tastes. Stimulating agricultural production in affected areas was important; a current project, purchase for progress, was carried out in a partnership programme with the Food and Agriculture Organization, ensuring crop diversification and effective cropping mechanisms, and providing a market for surpluses. It was also important to ensure production of the right crops and that the food was nutritious. These were some of the initiatives on which further progress should be made, including using market mechanisms. Concerning public responses, the power of the media had been noted. That was a way of getting to the public. As organizations and agencies, individually and collectively, attempted to reach the public, messages should emphasize collectively how individuals could make a difference. The youth was involved and that was one of the results to be happy about.
PETER BAKKER, former Chief Executive Officer, TNT (Netherlands), concerning the questions posed by Russia on guarantees that companies worked along with humanitarian principles, said that the private sector should only be allowed to participate in partnership with humanitarian institutions and the United Nations. Furthermore, upholding standards for private sector participation, such as the Global Compact, was necessary. Concerning the general public and accountability, Mr. Bakker said that in the context of large emergencies, it was not difficult to get the public to contribute but transparency and accountability issues always came up. The humanitarian world should think about consolidation. The number of non-governmental organizations attempting to gather funds was too high, fundraising should be coordinated and consolidated, rather than making a competition out of fundraising efforts.
AMIR ABDULLA, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Food Programme, concerning different types of funds, said it was necessary to proceed with caution, sometimes the tasks ahead needed as many types of funds as possible but the main issue was to ensure that funds available were used for humanitarian aims and not to allow humanitarian funds to be used for political aims. It was important to find a way to improve accountability mechanisms and reporting. It was important to report to those providing the funds, but also to beneficiaries. How could reporting be improved in order to inform beneficiaries and provide for mechanisms for them to report back and raise issues? Flexible funding was needed and should be sustainable.
AHMED ALMERAIKHI, International Development Department, Qatar, said that interesting comments were made and lessons should be learned from previous efforts and experiences. This led to the question of information exchanges among partners and intermediaries for partners to obtain information in order to better implement their projects. There should be a way to bring partners together to extend the system.
DONALD KABERUKA, President, African Development Bank, said, in considering the many cases of humanitarian need, there were cases of countries emerging from prolonged conflict. These situations posed a problem of resources, but other issues affected actions on the ground. South Sudan, for example, had just emerged from conflict and faced many problems. It was incredibly important to get it right on the ground. It was not just about money. At the African Development Bank, the fragile state facility had been established, which worked to build the state, kick start the economy and enhance other areas of engagement with the international community. It was difficult to achieve coordination on the ground.
PETER BAKKER, former Chief Executive Officer, TNT, said there was a next generation of leaders coming to the top in the private sector. These people realized that companies could not succeed in societies that failed. This was why people were taking corporate social responsibility seriously and wanted to engage in humanitarian assistance. The international community needed to consider the private sector as a source of skills and should consider making it easier for the private sector to access the United Nations.
ANTONIO MANUEL DE OLIVEIRA GUTERRES, High Commissioner for Refugees, said concerning transition and humanitarian principles, it was important to preserve humanitarian space and principles. Humanitarian and human rights agencies should get development actors as early as possible, but it was important for that to happen without compromising humanitarian principles. Concerning the remarks by the European Union, Mr. Guterres referred to their experience with accountability mechanisms with members of the non-governmental organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Whenever there was a complex situation, they should trust their common sense and should never miss an opportunity to do what was obvious.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that in relation to the case of Haiti it was not that it should be treated as a special case, there were lessons to learn from those evaluations and to understand the complex nature of the challenges faced, particularly with regards to the transition from humanitarian to development aid. In the mid-year review of the consolidated appeal, Haiti was one of the countries in which the appeal decreased because the focus was on humanitarian assistance rather than development reconstruction. On the humanitarian side it was important to focus on competencies, but the challenges of managing transition financing remained. The discussion brought valuable contributions and ideas. Ms. Amos thanked the panellists for making controversial comments, challenging all to think more creatively and innovatively. Accountability and needs assessment results were part of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee process and it was important to get it right on the country level results. There should be accountability to the national governments and the people in those countries, and agencies should be able to comment on the collective performance of the system. Concerning the promotion of ties with regional institutions and banks, in the context of preparedness there had been work done, but closer ties were necessary; particularly, in the context of the longer-term Horn of Africa plan, more work with the African Development Bank and regional institutions such as the Economic Community of West African States was needed. It was necessary to promote more entrepreneurial thinking and maximize existing opportunities. There was leadership emerging from the private sector and new partnerships should emphasize skills and capacities rather than just funding. The private sector could also contribute with examples of successful partnerships to build on experiences. Concerning funds, thinking about the challenges that would come up in the future was necessary, looking at challenges for funding mechanisms in five-year period. Independent evaluations, more transparent and regular reporting and actions should be complemented by good quality external evaluations.
General Discussion on Special Economic, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
SHULI DAVIDOVICH (Israel) said that in the context of the current challenges all stakeholders would have to work in partnership to strengthen coordination of humanitarian assistance. As the international community celebrated the independence of the Republic of Sudan, the need for many actors to assist this new nation in building a robust society and economy was emphasized; similar collaboration would be required in the Horn of Africa, where a severe drought threatened more than 10 million people. Natural disasters knew no boundaries and developed and developing countries were equally affected and often times required humanitarian assistance. Israel had contributed to the international response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti. Israel had itself suffered from devastating Carmel wildfires and was grateful to the United Nations and the members of the international community who offered assistance during the crisis. Israel sought to address the long-term impact of humanitarian disasters through its assistance, for example, as part of its effort in Haiti, a field hospital was built and operated in Port-Au-Prince and subsequently Israel remained engaged to assist in Haiti’s recovery, building capacity and strengthening its resilience by working with the office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health, providing equipment and specialized training for staff. Israel reiterated its support for the work of the United Nations on humanitarian affairs and would continue to offer humanitarian aid wherever there was a need.
SEK WANNAMETHEE (Thailand) reiterated Thailand’s strong adherence to the guiding principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality in the provision of humanitarian assistance. During past years a series of complex humanitarian emergencies had led to significant increases in vulnerability and humanitarian needs in many parts of the world. It was crucial to the United Nations and its partners to respond effectively to these increasing needs and to place more emphasis on strengthening capacity and preparedness as highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report. National efforts needed further support in building preparedness and response capacities to adapt to the increasing humanitarian needs on the ground. Thailand had proactively taken steps to improve disaster resilience at the regional level and contributed $ 10 million to establish the Tsunami Regional Trust Fund in 2005 and the Trust Fund had recently expanded to cover other types of disaster. Thailand expressed concern at the increasing number of attacks against humanitarian personnel in past years and called for additional measures to ensure the security of United Nations personnel in the field and access to people in need. Responding to humanitarian crises required long-term engagement and support for sustained recovery. On the issue of displaced people, Thailand stressed the need to uphold the principles of international responsibility and burden-sharing, and urged the international community to continue and increase humanitarian assistance with a view to helping affected populations.
YURI V. BRAZHNIKOV (Russian Federation) said it was important to strive to build a humanitarian aid system based on adequate and predictable financing. The system should be based on close interaction between Governments, local authorities and development partners. There was an interconnection between better preparedness and effective preparedness. At this stage, the improvement of measures aimed at strengthening national, regional and global capacities for reliable forecasting of hazardous events, preparedness and early warning systems should be the priority of the international community. In the Russia Federation, a number of measures aimed at improving national emergency prevention and response systems were being designed and implemented, including a National Crisis Management Centre. The Russian Federation advocated uniting national centres from different countries into a global network. The Russian Federation attached importance to the efforts of countries in developing and strengthening first line humanitarian response abilities comprising local and national emergency capacities of States. The Russian Federation was in favour of improving global disaster response mechanisms through the strengthening of existing United Nations response and coordination tools. The international humanitarian community should consecutively refrain from actions which could be negatively perceived by the local population. Governments should define the parameters of the presence and activities humanitarian organizations undertook. The principle of sovereignty should be preserved. The use of the military should remain a last resort measure.
EVAN P. GARCIA (Philippines) said the Philippines was an archipelagic country made up of more than 1,000 islands prone to natural disasters and was one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Philippines was also directly involved in delivering humanitarian assistance through its support for countries that had been subject to natural disasters. The Philippines echoed what was stated in the Secretary-General’s report for a much needed shift from a reactive system that responded to emergencies to a more prepared and anticipatory system. The Philippines adopted the cluster approach for its disaster response preparedness system. There should be greater effort to support capacity-building in affected States. The most effective resilience mechanisms should necessarily be local and success hinged on building strong capacities and institutions. Even with structural mechanisms in place, long-standing challenges remained. The Philippines supported the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair’s Central Emergency Response Fund through modest contributions. The Philippines and other similarly-situated nations were now being recognized as new and emerging donors. The Philippines joined the call to urge Member States to strengthen efforts to address sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. The Philippines expressed its unstinting support for United Nations’ activities in the area of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
OLEKSII HOLUBOV (Ukraine) emphasized the importance of strengthening the United Nations capacity for humanitarian leadership in emergencies through further cooperation between international agencies and non-governmental organizations. Ukraine noted the progress in promoting a coordinated approach, including humanitarian response to disasters, and that despite the global economic crisis the timely response to disasters and emergencies was important. Ukraine recognized the work of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Organization for Migration and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the evacuation of third countries nationals in Libya. Preparedness was a key prerequisite for tackling disaster risk reduction and mitigation. It was also important to preserve the fundamental principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. Ukraine thanked participants of the Chernobyl Pledging Conference for funds raised for the completion of the new environmentally safe compound over the destroyed reactor. Ukraine always relied upon United Nations assistance in minimizing the long-term consequences of the accident in Chernobyl, and commended the General Assembly resolution 65/131, and the United Nations’ focus on social and economic issues and local communities in its approach.
OTAVIO TRINDADE (Brazil) said the international community should further support efforts to strengthen the preparedness and response capacity of national and local authorities, civil society and affected communities. Relevant international organizations and bodies should work in a mutually supportive manner. Funding for preparedness remained incoherent and insufficient at the international level and donors should streamline their procedures and mechanisms for financing national efforts. Brazil noted with concern the overall decline of funding in relation to the needs and underlined the need to reduce vulnerabilities and invest in risk reduction. Brazil had increased its contributions, for example doubling its contribution to the Central Emergency Response Fund in 2001, and called on donors to increase their financial support. A supportive relationship between humanitarian assistance and sustainable development was critical to reverse the increasing need, stimulating the domestic economy through local procurement or cash-for-work schemes, such as the “purchase for progress” initiative of the World Food Programme. Humanitarian planning and delivery should be informed by early recovery and longer term development objectives; donors should take into account national development priorities; and actors should develop tools to enable mainstreaming early recovery elements. More inclusive humanitarian partnerships were needed.
ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said it was no secret that the changing nature of the climate had resulted in aggravating the frequency of natural disasters. In order to effectively address the needs of affected populations, there was a need to improve the level of coordination with the affected States and ensure the provision of resources in a more predictable, transparent, accountable and needs-based manner. An important element missing in the report of the Secretary-General was the aspect of accountability, which ensured the judicious employment and effective use of humanitarian resources. The primary role of the affected State in the initiation, identification, coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance remained central. Respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the national unity of the State should remain the overarching parameters in all coordination. Consent, consultation and participation of the affected State should remain the guiding principle for humanitarian action. Attention should be given to State’s priorities in needs assessment. Capacity building should be undertaken in countries that were most likely to be affected by humanitarian emergencies for preparedness through a State-driven process. Tapping into alternate means such as increased local procurements and hiring should be prioritized. Most importantly, emphasis should be not just on restoring lives but also on restoring livelihoods. Pakistan placed on record its strong condemnation for acts of increased violence against humanitarian workers and reiterated its resolve to support all possible measures for the safety and security of these personnel.
ROHITA MISHRA (India) said that the United Nations and its agencies had played a critical role in supporting the national capacities of many Member States to overcome the challenges posed by humanitarian crises. Coordination and delivery of international humanitarian assistance needed to be further strengthened. India valued the multilateral setting and voluntary and impartial nature of assistance adhering to humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law. India reiterated its commitment to the guiding principles for the provision of humanitarian assistance contained in General Assembly resolution 46/182: the importance of respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unity, and the consent of the affected States in the reception of assistance. Communities, civil society and the private sector all had important roles to play. Supporting local and national recovery provided opportunities to close the gap between relief and development and to transform disasters into opportunities for sustained development. Capacity building for risk reduction and disaster preparedness at the local, national and regional level benefitted all; and national resources, experiences and knowledge could be used in partnerships by the international community. India had extended assistance to countries affected by disasters, including $ 29 million to United Nations assistance to Pakistan and it was committed to continue to contribute to the Central Emergency Response Fund. International cooperation in disaster and humanitarian relief was the praxis of ancient Indian thought, and breathed life into international solidarity and gave meaning to the idea of multilateralism in the lives of ordinary people.
ISMAIL ASADOV (Azerbaijan) said that global challenges and disasters led to the dire need of humanitarian assistance for affected peoples and countries. Humanitarian assistance should be delivered as rapidly and as coordinated as possible, reinforcing national and local capacities in the affected communities. Measures should be taken within the international humanitarian funding mechanisms with a view of aligning the harmonized and coordinated needs assessments with humanitarian financing and strengthening the delivery structure for effective response. Azerbaijan was cooperating fruitfully and productively with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in order to share its own experience of flexible and sustained response to the protracted emergency situations through enhanced internal and external coordination. Faced by serious humanitarian consequences of the international armed conflict and experienced in humanitarian relief operations, Azerbaijan had made effective use of successful results in social-economic policy as an emergency donor country in various countries over the world. Humanitarian assistance among others should also be increased to meet the current evolving humanitarian needs and challenges.
PRIIT TURK (Estonia) said Estonia believed that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had a vital role in improving coordination in the field, strengthening the international humanitarian response system and advocating on behalf of people in need. It was of utmost importance to acknowledge and include beneficiaries into planning activities, including through the consolidated appeal process. Factual and needs-based assessments were also the cornerstone for more predictable humanitarian financing. The world was posing new demands on the global humanitarian system, including the increased need for financing. Therefore, there was now an ever greater need to reach out more, including to new and emerging donors. Estonia emphasized that the role and partnership with the private sector needed to be strengthened in order to gain from their skills and knowledge. Investing into preparedness was cheaper than reacting to crises afterwards. The international community needed to change the mindset and turn from being reactive into proactive. Estonia planned to increase its support for disaster preparedness in developing countries. Estonia was ready to continue to provide experiences, expertise and knowledge in the field of preparedness and prevention in Eastern Europe, according to the request and cooperation of national governments and international institutions.
CATALINA GONGORA TORRES (Colombia) acknowledged the efforts of the United Nations since 2006 to reform the architecture of humanitarian coordination. This facilitated the availability of funds to deliver on the commitment to carry out rapid emergency response. Since the establishment in 2006 of the Central Emergency Relief Fund, $ 26 million had been dispersed in Colombia. Colombia reiterated that resources should be aimed at effective emergency humanitarian assistance and prevention of emergencies. The best way to avoid the deployment of humanitarian assistance was to reduce risk factors. Colombia considered it important to work with international bodies, non-governmental organizations and countries to strengthen response abilities and exchange best practices on risk management and recovery. The United Nations, through inter-agency work, could make knowledge and capacity available to countries. Colombia considered resilience a factor heightened with development assistance. Colombia was convinced that humanitarian assistance should be provided according to humanitarian assistance principles and with respect to national sovereignty. Humanitarian assistance should also contribute to sustainable development structures.
ZHUE YE (China) said over the past year, the world had experienced frequent natural disasters of great magnitude. The humanitarian response system faced huge challenges. The international community, more than ever, needed to put its act together, show solidarity and take concerted actions. The sole purpose of humanitarian relief was to save human lives and prevent and mitigate human suffering. China was a firm supporter and strong advocate for the United Nations to strengthen capacity building and capacity development in the humanitarian and developmental fields. At present, the United Nations system was facing major challenges with regard to humanitarian financing. The Chinese delegation urged the United Nations system to double its efforts in financing, secure adequate, stable and predictable contributions and reduce the overdependence of the United Nations humanitarian system on a few donor countries. China was a developing country and susceptible to natural disasters. Disaster reduction, preparedness, response and recovery were perennial tasks for the Government at all levels in China. The Chinese Government attached great importance to international and regional cooperation in the field of humanitarian affairs and had actively participated in international rescue operations at the request of the governments of disaster-affected countries and in response to the appeals of national governments.
ANAS ALAMI-HAMEDANE. (Morocco) welcomed the report of the Secretary-General as a frank analysis aimed at improving the effectiveness of international assistance based on solidarity. Regardless of technological, democratic and economic advantages, there were emerging challenges and demands for international assistance, testing the solidarity and capacity of the international community to provide effective assistance to populations suffering from natural disasters. These challenges made it necessary for the international community to redouble its efforts. Morocco welcomed the reduction in the number of refugees worldwide, but remained preoccupied that thousands of persons were prevented from returning to their countries of origins despite international obligations. Morocco noted the number of internally displaced persons worldwide which had reached alarming levels. The international community should focus its attention on cases of conflict, given their impact on the economy of developing countries. Insecurity, poverty and precariousness predominated in the context of natural resources and the economic crises, imposing important costs on the budgets of affected countries in Africa and Asia. The scope of these disasters created extreme situations which needed to be addressed through better coordination and emergency preparedness and risk reduction mechanisms.
MOHAMMED NORE-ALAM (Bangladesh) noted that the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations was an evolving process and rested on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The United Nations system and other actors must deploy their efforts, expertise and resources in support of concerned States. Capacity building through strengthening national resilience and preparedness must be pursued in parallel with enhanced coordination among Member States and humanitarian partners. Bangladesh attached great importance to continued investment in building capacity for disaster preparedness and risk reduction as reflected in its national adaptation strategy and plan of action for climate change; it remained open to sharing best practices and to learn from effective interventions. The challenges posed by climate change were evident and called for rethinking the narrative of emergency humanitarian assistance. Dialogues to inform policy choices and decisions should be pursued in a more systematic manner to reach comprehensive solutions and encouraged a more meaningful interaction between humanitarian and development actors without conflating their mandates. The need for additional, flexible and predictable flows of humanitarian financing remained a challenge; new measures and initiatives to mobilize resources in a suitable manner, including pool funds and emergency response funds for the evacuation and repatriation of third nationals caught in conflict, were needed.
MARIE-THERESE PICTET-ALTHANN (Sovereign Military Order of Malta) said the thematic discussion was of particular relevance in the present context of increasing vulnerability and humanitarian need as a result of the impact of new and ongoing global challenges. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta initiated and sustained projects designed to deliver emergency aid, healthcare, as well as training and education. On the continent of Africa, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta worked in 38 countries, some of which were confronted with conflict, epidemics and natural disasters, all at the same time. The current major food crisis in the Horn of Africa presented a new challenge of as yet unknown dimension. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta was beginning its emergency relief activities in the region. Large-scale emergencies had demonstrated the urgency for measures which provided better protection for the future and enable people to help themselves by their own efforts. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta worked on improving resilience, disaster preparedness and response capacities, including the development of community-based disaster preparedness through early warning systems and emergency plans, the setting-up of disaster management systems and other efforts. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta remained fully committed to its mission by helping to reduce pain and suffering across the globe in close cooperation with its humanitarian partners and the United Nations.
SIDDHARTH CHATTERJEE (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) said the Horn of Africa was experiencing the most severe food crisis in the world today. The crisis did not come as a surprise – it had been predictable over the years. There were a complex set of underlying issues that triggered the current crisis. The situation had been on the radar for some time. It was time to think hard about the chronic issues that mired the complex region. Vulnerability to disasters, food insecurity and poverty was reduced where livelihoods were resilient, local coping capacities were strengthened and people were able to earn sufficient income to meet their needs. Interventions that aimed at increasing resilience of local communities to existing and future threats would ultimately contribute to regional security, personal dignity and supportive communities. Livelihood protection and recovery were critical aspects of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ humanitarian and development work. It was necessary to move away from focusing solely on disaster response and start to truly include preparedness and risk reduction as an essential component of development.
ERIKA LAUBACHER (International Organization for Migration) reiterated the emphasis of the report of the Secretary-General on irregular migration, rapid population growth and urbanization as contributing to increasing vulnerability and humanitarian need, as well as a rapidly changing landscape for humanitarian organizations. Humanitarian agencies had raised policy and operational concerns related to rapid growth in urban areas, in particular following the flood in Pakistan and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, as well as the post-election violence in Kenya, and must re-examine their traditional field and camp-based approach. Developing countries were disproportionally predisposed to such crises. The magnitude of persons fleeing Libya led to one of the largest migration crisis seen since the first Gulf War and drew attention to potential challenges of reinsertion, reintegration and economic stabilization of the affected families and communities. The International Organization for Migration welcomed the importance given to proper humanitarian financing, beyond immediate response funds, and the acknowledgment of the life-saving impact of funding projects aimed at preparedness, disaster risk reduction and transition. The International Organization for Migration was committed to those most vulnerable in times of crises and remained dedicated to working resourcefully and proficiently with Inter-Agency Standing Committee partners and stood ready to expand and intensify cooperation in the emerging humanitarian situation in the horn of Africa and other crises.
ABDESSALAM OULD AHMED (Food and Agriculture Organization) said that in the common endeavour of enhancing the effectiveness of humanitarian response, it was critical to learn from past experience in an inclusive way and not hesitate to open new paths and approaches. The divide between humanitarian and development activities and funding within the United Nations and donor community was one of the most important challenges faced by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Most of the food security crises, including those resulting from food price increases, came from the long-term negligence of the agricultural sector which accounted for less than five per cent of official development assistance allocation; similarly current crises in the Horn of Africa could have been substantially reduced through better preparedness and early warning response systems. More emphasis should be placed on preparedness activities, including institutional capacities and community resilience, as the most effective way to plan and response to disasters. Focusing on institutional resilience and preparedness entailed also a shift in the content of assistance programmes, directing them towards supporting local institutions and frontline actors. The Food and Agriculture Organization reaffirmed its commitment to work with all partners to enhance the effectiveness of its response to crises.
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