Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller - Remarks at the Humanitarian Networking and Partnerships Week event: INSARAG Steering Group meeting
International Conference Centre, Geneva, 7 February 2019
Ambassador Manuel Bessler, Chairman of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group. Distinguished delegates, colleagues,
I am very pleased to participate in today’s INSARAG Steering Group meeting. I very much believe in the importance of INSARAG and of this group, and I am glad to have this opportunity to meet with you in person.
Since INSARAG was established 28 years ago, the network has made significant contributions to humanitarian coordination. This has mainly been through INSARAG’s coordination of urban search and rescue work in responses to earthquakes and other natural disasters.
In addition, INSARAG’s work has inspired many other mechanisms across the United Nations, including the creation of the United Nations Disaster and Coordination system or UNDAC, which is today a vital coordination tool in the response to sudden-onset disasters.
Through its guidelines, INSARAG has also become a model to World Health Organization emergency medical teams and humanitarian clusters.
OCHA, which hosts the network’s Secretariat, is strongly committed to the work of INSARAG. We firmly believe that INSARAG is an invaluable partner in today’s humanitarian architecture, where collaboration is critical.
Globally, INSARAG’s role and methodology are recognized through the United Nations General Assembly resolution 57/150, adopted in 2002, and I quote its title: “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue Assistance.”
This resolution stresses the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of international urban search and rescue assistance so that more lives can be saved.
It also urges States to ensure that their international urban search and rescue teams deploy and operate in accordance with international standards.
Further, it endorses INSARAG guidelines as the chief point of reference for the coordination of urban search and rescue efforts.
Over the past almost thirty years now, the growing diversity of countries in INSARAG has strengthened the network and contributed towards many of its notable successes.
One of these key achievements is INSARAG’s External Classification system, through which urban search and rescue teams adopt peer-reviewed minimum international standards. So far, 53 urban search and rescue teams around the world have successfully completed this process.
In line with General Assembly resolution 57/150, INSARAG has also provided guidelines, first responders’ training and earthquake response exercises in disaster-prone countries. These, along with other tools and activities, are helping to ensure that countries have the operational and organizational capacity in place to save lives. They are primarily provided in support of earthquake-prone countries as they execute their primary role to initiate, coordinate and organize urban search and rescue assistance in their territories.
Recognizing the increasing participation of regional organizations in humanitarian action, INSARAG now also shares its guidelines and methodology with these bodies.
In closing, I wish to once again reaffirm OCHA’s strong commitment to the work of INSARAG. We look forward to building on the successful cooperation we have enjoyed over the years, as we continue to work together in the future.
Thank you so much and I wish you a very inspiring day.