36th Plenary Meeting of Economic and Social Council 2018 Session

Preview Language:   English
19-Jun-2018 02:56:09
Humanitarian Affairs Segment: “Restoring humanity, respecting human dignity and leaving no one behind: working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”.

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Speakers Call for Early Coordinated Action, Financing to Shore Up Strained Global Emergency Response System, as Humanitarian Affairs Segment Begins

At a time when the global humanitarian response system was struggling to meet an unprecedented demand in aid for millions of people displaced by natural disasters and conflict, new approaches and stronger partnerships were key to overcome urgent challenges, the Economic and Social Council heard today at the opening of its humanitarian affairs segment.

Early action and efficient financing mechanisms were among the tools needed, said Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on strengthening coordination of the Organization’s emergency humanitarian assistance. Indeed, the humanitarian system was strained. To date, only $8 billion of the required $25 billion had been received at a time when natural disasters had, over the past year, affected more than 96 million people and conflicts had displaced millions across the world. Tackling such issues required stronger collaboration, he stressed.

Jerry Matthews Matjila (South Africa), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the three-day meeting was an opportunity for Member States and humanitarian partners to discuss how to better coordinate assistance to respond to record levels of need.

Focused on the theme “Restoring humanity, respecting human dignity and leaving no one behind: Working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”, the segment featured a general debate and side events, with the Economic and Social Council expected to adopt its annual humanitarian resolution on 21 June. High-level panels would look at ways to bolster local capabilities for sustainable outcomes and local resilience; strengthen the response to meet the needs of children affected by armed conflict; and address the risks and impacts of extreme weather events and climate change on the most vulnerable.

Some of those issues were highlighted by delegates, who also outlined their ongoing efforts to address challenges.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said his country was still reeling from the most challenging humanitarian situation in its history: a massive earthquake that struck in February. That daunting experience had underscored the importance of partnership, preparedness, capacity-building and resilience.

Summarizing a common theme, Afghanistan’s delegate emphasized that meeting the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development hinged on adoption of a comprehensive approach to sustainable development that included dealing with humanitarian emergencies.

Many delegates, including those from Canada and Norway, underlined the need to ensure gender equality in all efforts, and highlighted long-standing and new concerns.

Drawing attention to the situation of the migrant population in a major destination country, the representative of El Salvador underlined that the practice of children being separated from their parents was, in fact, a human rights violation and called for that practice to end immediately. He also reminded delegates about the lessons learned from the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit.

Raising several concerns, the representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the response to humanitarian emergencies must be based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. International cooperation, technical and financial support from States and the United Nations, while indispensable, must be channelled in ways that did not undermine or replace national or local mechanisms.

Agreeing, Thailand’s delegate said external assistance should reinforce national and local capacities, with people placed at the heart of all such efforts.

Several donor countries shared their perspective. Germany’s delegate said donors alone could not resolve all challenges, while Belgium’s representative recommended a new funding mechanism to create effective partnerships.

Ireland’s representative said that the mobilization of assistance to prevent famine last year in Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa and Sudan demonstrated how critical anticipatory approaches and early action were to reduce suffering and need. Concerned that targets under the Grand Bargain — an agreement signed last year among 30 large donors and relief organizations to increase the amount of emergency aid going directly to local and national actor to 25 per cent by 2020 — would not be reached, he urged other signatories to increase the proportion of their funding that was not earmarked.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Bulgaria (on behalf of the European Union), Australia (also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Turkey), Armenia, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Republic of Korea, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Ecuador, Cuba, Sweden, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Honduras, Turkey and Nigeria.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 20 June, to continue its humanitarian affairs segment.
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