Sommaire: July 15, 2002: Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, on behalf of the European Union, on the Strengthening of the co-ordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations at the Humanitarian affairs segment of the Economic and Social Council 2002 (New York)
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the associated countries Cyprus and Malta as well as the EFTA country member of the EEA Iceland align themselves with this statement.
The European Union wishes to compliment the Secretary-General for his report under this agenda item. We find it well balanced and much to the point in the way the various issues are addressed. We have studied with particular interest the very useful list of specific recommendations.
One important function of the humanitarian segment during ECOSOC is to establish general guidelines for the work of the United Nations in the humanitarian field, including the work of OCHA. The European Union welcomes the decision to aim at concluding our discussions by adopting a resolution that can provide such guidance.
The ongoing large-scale humanitarian operation in Afghanistan has underlined once again the radically changed conditions under which humanitarian assistance often has to be delivered today. It is essential that we continue to make determined efforts to ensure that resources available for international humanitarian assistance are employed as effectively as possible.
Overall co-ordination of international humanitarian assistance efforts should continue to be the responsibility of the United Nations as envisaged in resolution 46/182. This is a particularly important point at a time when it is clear that the organisations of the UN system often find themselves operating in a very crowded space, with diverse - and sometimes new - humanitarian actors and limited funds.
The need for crisis prevention and the adoption of necessary measures to address root causes, before a full-scale crisis has developed, is increasingly stressed. And rightly so. Failure to provide solutions can lead to the threat of further conflict or instability.
More should be done to find effective ways to close the gap between emergency relief and longer-term development. There is widespread agreement on the potential gains and the importance of progress in this area, but at the same time there seems to be a need to ensure that new dynamism and commitment is brought to the process. In some cases, a clearer division of work and a strengthening of co-operative arrangements among agencies seem to be called for.
The importance of national capacity building cannot be overestimated. To ensure sustainability and long term success everything should be done to engage the full participation of the community and local structures and institutions and to establish the basis for stability through the promotion of human rights.
The European Union welcomes the emphasis placed on the need to strengthen the regional aspect of disaster management in the Secretary-General's report.
We fully share the views of the Secretary-General on the importance of improving ongoing work in the area of contingency planning, early warning, prevention and preparedness. The risk of a renewal of the El Nino phenomenon underlines the importance of progress in this area.
The rapid deployment mechanism established by OCHA under the name of UNDAC (United Nations Disaster and Co-ordination system) is an indispensable tool for UN co-ordinated response in case of a sudden emergency. Active support from the UN agencies to the UNDAC system and their increased participation in UNDAC missions are essential.
The European Union is at present developing a civil protection response capacity as part of efforts to strengthen its civil crisis management capacity. We are aware of the need to ensure co-ordination with the United Nations, so that EU activities in this area will complement and support the wider international response led by the United Nations.
The European Union recognises the need for development of standards for emergency humanitarian response, particularly for search and rescue operations and supports the efforts made by a group of member states - with OCHA in the role of facilitator - to ensure progress in this regard at the upcoming General Assembly.
The theme of "Reaching the Vulnerable" is indeed central to the overall purpose of our deliberations. At the same time, as is clear from the Secretary-General's report, it touches upon a number of highly complex issues. What is called for is nothing less than a new "culture of protection" and a strengthened focus on "human security". It is essential to target and monitor emergency assistance in a way that will ensure that vulnerable groups are reached, and that human rights are protected in the doing thereof.
Today's humanitarian crises have resulted in large-scale human suffering and displacement. Millions have been forced to flee their homes in order to seek asylum across borders or search for a measure of safety within their own country. The operational difficulties of reaching such people in insecure and isolated areas have been demonstrated time and again. As have the political complexities of rendering necessary assistance.
The European Union wishes to express its support for the continued efforts within the UN system to ensure that the needs of IDPs are met in an effective and comprehensive manner, including most recently the establishment of a special unit for IDPs within OCHA, and through the dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, as developed by the Secretary General's Representative on Internally Displaced Persons.
In the Millennium Declaration world leaders committed themselves "to strengthen international co-operation, including burden sharing in, and the co-ordination of humanitarian assistance to, countries hosting refugees and to help all refugees and displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes, in safety and dignity, and to be smoothly reintegrated into their societies." This is an important commitment on the part of the international community. The European Union is assisting countries that are hosts to refugees to help them shoulder their burdens, and is also supporting reintegration of refugees at the time they are able to return to their homes.
The European Union welcomes the increasing attention given to the specific protection and assistance needs of especially vulnerable groups such as women and children as well as the elderly and the disabled.
In crisis situations, women not only suffer from conditions of general deprivation and violence, but face a number of specific gender-based threats and risks. The European Union is strongly concerned about the recent, very disturbing allegations of sexual abuse in refugee camps in West Africa. Everything necessary must be done to ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected, and we urge the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. It is particularly important that a gender perspective is fully integrated into all humanitarian activities and policies. We welcome the work of IASC (Inter Agency Standing Committee) in this regard.
Notwithstanding their special protection needs, women are a powerful resource that often plays a positive role in conflict situations and post-conflict peace building and reconciliation.
Humanitarian emergencies have a direct and particular impact on children. Assistance efforts should include measures addressed specifically towards children through all phases of an emergency.
The specific vulnerabilities of children in armed conflict deserve special attention. We welcome the entry into force of the United Nations Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts adopted by the General Assembly in 2000.
The safety and security of humanitarian staff in situations of armed conflict are a central concern to the European Union.
Major progress was made last year when agreement was reached on a reinforced system-wide security arrangement, which implies, essentially, the establishment of a more effective central UN security system.
The European Union urges all parties involved to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in order to ensure the safe provision of humanitarian assistance.
We welcome the entry into force of the Statute of The International Criminal Court and the fact that it provides for the prosecution of attacks against persons working in the context of a humanitarian mission and call on States to accede to the Statute.
We also call for full adherence to and use of the UN Convention on Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and welcome the recent first meeting in the Ad Hoc Committee.
Anti-personnel landmines pose an ever-present physical threat to civilians caught in areas of conflict and through their effects add to the burden of vulnerability of any society. They also constitute a considerable threat to humanitarian activities, in terms of access to vulnerable populations.
The European Union is strongly committed to continue its efforts to eradicate anti-personnel mines worldwide and to alleviate the suffering caused by these weapons. We recognise the need for improved international co-ordination of assistance to humanitarian mine action and especially a coherent approach between EU mine action programmes, UN co-ordination mechanisms, follow-up measures to the Ottawa-Convention and the mine action support of individual Member States. In this respect, the important work of the UN Mine Action Service is acknowledged.
The European Union has a prominent role in international efforts to relieve humanitarian needs everywhere in the world. Overall, the European Union supplies about 50 pct. of global humanitarian assistance. In 2001, EU member states supplied over one billion Euros. In addition to the contributions of the member states, the European Commission through its humanitarian Aid Office - ECHO - allocated in 2001 a total of over 500 million Euros to fund humanitarian projects in more than 60 countries.
The European Union actively supports efforts to further strengthen the CAP´s as the prime tool for strategic planning and co-ordination. We will continue to encourage all humanitarian partners to participate actively in the CAP Process especially in the field in order to ensure maximum complementarity and coherence of international humanitarian assistance.
There can be no doubt that the question of resources is of the essence. Lack of sufficient financial resources certainly has to be addressed as a matter of priority by the international community.
The uneven pattern of funding between CAP appeals and between sectors within appeals raises a number of legitimate questions. We agree that part of the answer could well be improved donor co-ordination to ensure more balanced support for humanitarian crises globally.
The existing humanitarian financial tracking system does not give an adequate picture of the totality of humanitarian needs and assistance flows. We recognise the need for provision of adequate information and are ready to consider the need for establishing a more comprehensive system for financial information and analysis as a means to improve humanitarian co-ordination.
At the same time, it is imperative to underline the obligations that rest upon the organisations of the UN system. In order to attract sufficient financing they have to be able to deliver humanitarian assistance of maximum quality and with maximum speed and efficiency. Irrespective of progress achieved, more should be done to ensure greater transparency and accountability and to substantiate results achieved through inter alia stepped up efforts in the area of monitoring and evaluation.
Unfortunately, there is no reason to assume that humanitarian needs are going to decrease in the years to come. We will still be faced with the challenge of making the best use possible of our limited resources. In this respect, co-operation is a key word.
The EU Commission in a communication to the Council in May last year emphasised its readiness to strengthen co-operation with the United Nations in the humanitarian field as well as in the field of development. This initiative has now received a positive reply from the United Nations that spells out the readiness of the organisation to strengthen co-operation in a number of concrete areas.
The support of the European Union for the work of the United Nations in the humanitarian field is well known. We hope that our discussions in the next days will contribute to establishing a basis for further progress in improving the co-ordination of international humanitarian assistance and look forward to a constructive dialogue on these important issues.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.