Haiti + 3 more

General Assembly, adopting text on bolstering effectiveness of military, civil assets in disaster response, reaffirms principles of neutrality, independence

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Sixty-fifth General Assembly
107th Meeting (AM)

Emphasizing the fundamentally civilian character of aid, the General Assembly today reaffirmed the need for the consent of disaster-affected States when using military assets to support the implementation of humanitarian assistance, in conformity with international law, including international humanitarian law, and humanitarian principles.

Recalling the revised guidelines on the use of military assets in disaster relief, the Assembly stressed the value of further guidance on civil-military relations in the context of humanitarian activities as it adopted a consensus resolution on improving the effectiveness and coordination of military and civil defence assets in responding to natural disasters. It also reaffirmed the need to observe the principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality and independence in providing assistance.

Also by the text, the Assembly took note of calls from President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic and President Abdulla Gül of Turkey, regarding the need to more effectively address the issue of disaster response. It took note with appreciation of Qatar’s HOPEFOR initiative, aimed at improving humanitarian civil-military coordination and ensuring the appropriate, effective and coordinated use of military and civil defence assets in support of natural-disaster relief operations.

The Assembly also took note with interest of the decision by Qatar, the Dominican Republic and Turkey to convene an international conference in Doha, Qatar, in 2011 to discuss the HOPEFOR initiative and consider steps for implementing various options, in close collaboration with Member States, regional and international organizations and the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The resolution was submitted by its three co-sponsors — Dominican Republic, Qatar and Turkey — with Fazli Çorman (Turkey) recalling major disasters in Pakistan, Haiti and Japan, among other countries, and urging a fresh look at ways to improve the effectiveness and coordination of military and civil defence assets in tackling such events. “We have decided to join our individual efforts and energy to bring once again this important issue to the agenda of the United Nations,” he said, expressing hope that the resolution’s adoption and subsequent activities would draw the utmost attention of all States.

Alya Ahmed S. Al-Thani ( Qatar) said the increase in natural disasters over the last decade was a trend that was likely to accelerate in the coming years. In many cases, military assets had helped fill the gap between military needs and those created by natural disasters. Guidelines had been established to determine best practices, as had measures to improve effectiveness, she said, adding, nonetheless: “We must scale-up our efforts today.” Qatar was sparing no effort in that regard, she said.

Marcos Montilla ( Dominican Republic) said the text could have been discussed in a more inclusive format to ensure improved effectiveness and coordination, with a view to saving as many lives as possible and to preserving the critical structures of the affected country. It was important to study the most viable options for responding effectively and swiftly to natural disasters, and how they could support operations carried out by humanitarian agencies, he said, recalling that President Fernandez had raised the need to bolster national preparedness capacities through an alliance of at-risk States that would allow the sharing of experiences and lessons learned.

The General Assembly will reconvene on a date to be announced.

For information media • not an official record