53rd Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 73rd Session

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14-Dec-2018 02:50:09
General Assembly adopts 4 resolutions aimed at strengthening coordination of humanitarian, disaster relief assistance at 53rd and 54th plenary meetings.

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The General Assembly today adopted four resolutions on coordinating humanitarian and disaster relief aid, as Member States echoed concerns that global crises and attacks on humanitarian personnel continue to increase as millions of people are forcibly displaced worldwide.

Adopting a resolution titled “strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/73/L.61), the Assembly first acted on a draft amendment (document A/73/L.65), rejecting it by a recorded vote of 102 against to 7 in favour (Belarus, Cameroon, Guatemala, Iraq, Qatar, Sudan, United States) with 27 abstentions. It then decided to retain operative paragraphs 58 and 59 through a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 3 against (Guatemala, Sudan, United States), with 6 abstentions (Burundi, Ghana, Panama, Russian Federation, Senegal, Togo).

By terms of those paragraphs, the Assembly encouraged Member States to ensure that the basic humanitarian needs of affected populations, including water, food, shelter, health, including sexual and reproductive health, education and protection, energy and information and communications technologies are addressed. It encouraged Member States to ensure that women and girls have access to basic health‑care services, including reliable and safe access to sexual and reproductive services and mental health and psychosocial support.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution titled “international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/73/L.18/Rev.1). It rejected a proposed draft amendment on that text by a recorded vote of 110 against to 6 in favour (Belarus, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Sudan, Togo, United States), with 22 abstentions. In that text it also voted to retain operative paragraph 59 by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 4 against (Guatemala, Philippines, Sudan, United States), with 6 abstentions (Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Panama, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan).

By the terms of that paragraph, the Assembly encouraged Governments, local authorities, the United Nations system and regional organizations to address the vulnerabilities and capacities of women and girls through gender responsive programming, including regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Adopting a resolution titled “safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/73/L.51), the Assembly voted to retain its twenty-ninth preambular paragraph by recorded vote of 93 in favour to 13 against, with 26 abstentions. It also retained operative paragraph 7 of the draft by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 14 against, with 25 abstentions.

By the terms of the abovementioned paragraphs, the Assembly welcomed the efforts of the Secretary‑General to provide counselling to United Nations personnel affected by safety and security incidents, and emphasized the importance of making available stress management, mental health and related services for the Organization’s personnel throughout the system. It also called on all States to consider becoming parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Next, acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution titled “White Helmets Commission: participation of volunteers in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/73/L.53).

Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, in a statement delivered by Assembly Vice‑President Kornelios Korneliou (Cyprus), said that the funding necessary to provide humanitarian aid to the 135.7 million people affected by conflicts or natural hazards has reached a record $23.5 billion. Targeting medical facilities and humanitarian personnel, and the hindering the delivery of life saving humanitarian assistance is a violation of international humanitarian law. Member States must work together to prevent conflict, enhance mediation efforts and prevent the catastrophic consequences of natural hazards by enhancing disaster preparedness.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the European Union said that the average humanitarian crisis now lasts more than nine years. Such crises also take up the bulk of the resources and funding available. In 2018, four crises accounted for 55 per cent of all funding requested and received. If the international community is genuinely interested in preventing and addressing humanitarian emergencies, it has no choice but to acknowledge that most of today’s crises are man‑made.

Speakers emphasized the need to adopt a people‑centered approach to humanitarian relief operations. India’s delegate, also speaking on behalf of Sweden, stressed the need to adopt a victim‑centered approach to humanitarian response. He also called for more non‑earmarked flexible funding so that money could be utilized by the humanitarian agencies in the most effective manner.

The representative of Spain said humanitarian crises are compounded by the fact that 65 million people, who have been displaced by conflict, survive in environments of extended and protracted crises. Echoing the calls of several delegations, he emphasized the importance of paying greater attention to the unique challenges and needs of women and children.

The Assembly also had before it several reports of the Secretary-General including on “safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/73/392, Corrigendum 1, and Corrigendum 2); “strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/73/78); “Central Emergency Response Fund” (document A/73/170); “international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/73/343); and “assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/73/84 and Corrigendum 1).

In other matters, the Assembly took note of the President’s decision to appoint Iran as a member of the Committee on Conferences for a term of office beginning on 1 January 2019 and ending 31 December 2021. It also postponed the electing members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission to Friday, 21 December.

The Assembly further postponed to a later date to be announced the consideration of items titled “strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution”, “zone of peace and cooperation of the South Atlantic”, and “the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Sweden, Singapore (on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Thailand, Kuwait, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Canada, China, Switzerland, Russian Federation, El Salvador, Ireland, Ukraine, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Syria, United States, Bangladesh and Malta.

The representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also delivered statements.

Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Sudan, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Sweden, Canada, United States, Egypt, Israel and Iraq.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 17 December to consider reports of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).

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