November 23, 2017

EU remains committed to an effective humanitarian response

Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by H.E. Mr. Nicholas Emiliou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN on Humanitarian Segment of ECOSOC, 18 July, 2012

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its member states.

The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia[1], Iceland[2]  as well as Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.

Mr. Chair,

The humanitarian segment of ECOSOC represents a key forum for the humanitarian community to come together and discuss the international humanitarian response as well as current and future challenges for humanitarian actors.

In this regard, the European Union reiterates its strong support for the work of the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, whose strong performance in the field remains critical to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. The EU also welcomes the continued strengthening of mutual collaboration and coordination between the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Principals.

Mr. Chair,

The EU is a strong supporter of the continued reinforcement of the international humanitarian system. We welcome the IASC Transformative Agenda launched by the Emergency Relief Coordinator with a view to further strengthen the humanitarian response system. We underline the importance of timely implementation of the Transformative Agenda at an operational level, and recognise that this requires focus on the three important pillars- leadership, coordination and accountability. We further acknowledge the recent progress made in strengthening the role of Humanitarian Coordinators, enhancement in the use of pooled funds and improvements in the cluster approach. However, despite these positive developments, significant room for improvement remains regarding the humanitarian system’s overall effectiveness and accountability for collective results.

Humanitarian leadership is a central element to ensure a coordinated and principled humanitarian response. Resident coordinators play an especially important role in helping to preserve humanitarian space through strong advocacy for the humanitarian principles. The 2012 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) process presents an important opportunity for the international community to engage in a dialogue on how to strengthen the Resident Coordinator system and thereby ensure that UN operational activities in the field of humanitarian assistance continue to adapt to the changing global cooperation context. We believe that Resident Coordinators, who often are Humanitarian Coordinators, should have the ability to lead on behalf of the entire UN system, contribute to the work of the UN country team and promote change. We call on the UN and relevant stakeholders to devise an integrated strategy to support the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators as well as facilitate the appointment, retention and empowerment of strong humanitarian leaders.

Mr. Chair,

A solid shared understanding of humanitarian needs is essential for an effective and targeted response. We therefore support the continued work towards developing a framework for common needs assessments, which are critical to bringing about a shared understanding of humanitarian needs.

In order to develop strategic, prioritised and efficient response, and to better measure the performance of the humanitarian system, the EU underlines the importance of evidence-based decision-making. We need to ensure that humanitarian assistance is based upon reliable, timely and independent baseline information. The EU therefore welcomes the efforts made by the UN and OCHA when cooperating with Member States to help ensure the availability of relevant data.

The EU welcomes the ongoing efforts by humanitarian actors to strengthen accountability to all stakeholders, in particular to affected populations. Affected populations are at the centre of humanitarian action, and their active participation is essential in providing assistance in ways that best meet their needs.

Mr. Chair,

We also emphasise the need for both development and humanitarian community to strengthen its support for transition and early recovery, in order to provide hope to people affected by crises and promote structural changes. We are determined to highlight the importance of delivering effective aid, which prioritises the people at the gravest risk, and addresses the need to avoid emergencies of cyclical nature.

The strengthening of disaster resilience through disaster risk reduction should be seen as primary responsibility national governments supported by international development and humanitarian partners. It is thereby necessary to improve coherence and links between humanitarian and development aid. This goal is also at the heart of the EU’s “Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience” (SHARE) Initiative in 2012 with major funding commitment to support people to recover from the recent droughts and to better withstand future crises. Also, in June, the Partnership for resilience (AGIR Sahel) was launched inBrusselsby countries and organisations of theSahelregion and their international partners, notably the EU, complementing wider efforts and initiatives. In this regard, we encourage UN funds, programs and other development actors to integrate resilience based and disaster risk reduction strategies in their programming, in close cooperation with OCHA and other humanitarian actors, as well as host governments and regional organisations.

Mr. Chair,

The intensity and frequency of natural disasters are on the rise and humanitarian needs persist as a consequence of armed conflict. The EU firmly believes in the need to strengthen the global partnership on international humanitarian assistance in an effort to tackle these challenges. This means engaging with new partners, building an inclusive international dialogue and working towards an even broader donor base. We therefore welcome the efforts by USG Amos to reach out to these actors in order to strengthen partnerships, enhance effective coordination and encourage all Member States and other humanitarian actors to cooperate with OCHA in this regard.

While the EU recognises that a growing number of humanitarian actors can create new and unique possibilities for humanitarian response, it is necessary to ensure the protection of the established humanitarian principles, and through this, continue to strengthen the humanitarian space. The EU therefore also calls on all relevant actors to respect the fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Last but not least, the EU remains gravely concerned about the outbreak of several new complex emergencies, the continuation of protracted conflicts and the continued displacement of millions of people. In complex emergencies, international humanitarian assistance is often essential to support and supplement national efforts to protect and meet the needs of those in need.  Access to affected populations however is often severely restricted due to violent conflict, bureaucratic constraints, or deliberate bans of humanitarian organisations. We also remain gravely concerned by escalating acts of violence perpetrated against humanitarian personnel and looting of humanitarian supplies. The EU urges all states and all parties to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law and to preserve the humanitarian space by ensuring rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and supplies to populations in need, for population in need to receive aid and be afforded protection, as well as to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers.

Mr. Chair,

In closing, while the challenges facing the humanitarian community are enormous, we are encouraged by the opportunities provided by this segment to advance dialogue between partners, and through this continue to strengthen the humanitarian system. The EU remains committed to continuing its engagement with all member states in widening the humanitarian space, and contributing to the strengthening of the humanitarian partnership and effective humanitarian response.

Thank you.


[1] Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

[2] Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area