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Capping Three-Day Humanitarian Segment, Economic and Social Council Adopts Text Urging Better Protection of People Trapped in Crisis, Aid Workers


2016 Session, 33rd & 34th Meetings (AM & PM)
Economic and Social Council Meetings Coverage

Speakers Say Efficient State Action Needed Across Board to Address Massive Political Deficits Causing Sharp Rise in Displacement

The Economic and Social Council concluded its humanitarian affairs segment today, adopting a resolution recognizing the significant increase in forced displacement worldwide and stressing the need to respond to the specific needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and the host communities struggling to care for them.

In closing remarks, Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator thanked participants for “highly informative discussions”, noting that many had described the recent World Humanitarian Summit as an accelerator for change. For its part, his Office was committed to working with all stakeholders to deliver on the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity.

By the resolution, the Council condemned all attacks, threats and other violence against humanitarian personnel, their facilities, equipment, transport and supplies, expressing deep concern at the consequences of such attacks for the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations.

By other terms, the Council called on all parties to armed conflict to respect, and all States to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law, and to comply with human rights and refugee legal obligations. States must also comply with the 1949 Geneva Conventions, notably on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, the Council stated, urging United Nations bodies to strengthen assistance to civilians in those situations.

In the area of civilian protection, the Council requested that States strengthen efforts to ensure better protection of and assistance for internally displaced persons, notably by adopting policies and strategies on a multi-year basis. States should also continue to prevent, investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies, strengthening their response with support services for victims.

For its part, the United Nations should enhance humanitarian capacities, knowledge and institutions, the Council stated, requesting the Organization to deploy experienced humanitarian staff “quickly and flexibly” with paramount consideration given to the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity. In that context, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s call to double the Central Emergency Response Fund to $1 billion by 2018.

The adoption capped a day that featured a morning panel discussion on “Impediments to the Protection of Civilians”, moderated by Mr. O’Brien. Five panellists offered front-line perspectives on the challenges to reducing human suffering, including the wide-spread disrespect for international humanitarian — by State and non-State actors.

“There is something fundamentally wrong in a world where attacks on hospitals and schools, on places of worship and public markets, on ethnic and religious groups, have become so commonplace that they cease to incite any reaction,” Mr. O’Brien said, opening the discussion.

That sentiment was echoed in panellist presentations by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, and heads of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva Call, Médecins Sans Frontières and Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, all of whom described the complexity of building trust with warring parties, identifying humanitarian needs, gaining access to affected areas and ultimately providing relief to distinct and sometimes disparate populations.

Measures to assure the equal treatment, dignity, safety and protection of people in conflict situations were essential, panellists said, as was acceptance by States that humanitarian personnel, to save lives, must care for and negotiate with “the enemy”. Such actions could not be criminalized.

In the afternoon, the Council concluded its general debate under the theme, “Restoring Humanity and Leaving No One Behind: Working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”, with speakers calling on States to address the political deficits that had led to the massive increase in forced displacement. Many called for more efficient action across the board.

“Letting down the millions of people trapped in humanitarian crises — and those vulnerable to tomorrow’s emergencies — is not an option,” said the representative of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “We need to work both smarter and harder as humanitarians and development actors, as Governments, as donors and as an international community.”

In other business, the Council President appointed the following eight experts as members of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for a three-year term beginning 1 January 2017, as communicated in a 7 June letter to the Council: Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine (Mali) and Elifuhara Laltaika (United Republic of Tanzania) from Africa; Ann Nuorgam (Finland), from the Arctic; Phoolman Chaudhary (Nepal), from Asia; Terry Henry (United States), from North America; Lourdes Tiban Guala (Ecuador), from Central and South America and the Caribbean; Dimitri Zaitcev (Russian Federation), from Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; and Les Malezer (Australia), from the Pacific.

Closing the segment, Council Vice-President Jürg Lauber (Switzerland) thanked participants for their strong and constructive participation.

Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia, Ireland, Serbia, Estonia, Republic of Korea, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Argentina, China, Germany, Sudan, Brazil, Canada, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Armenia, Kuwait, Czech Republic, Peru and Mexico.

Representatives of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, United Nations Mine Action Service, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also delivered interventions.


The Economic and Social Council began the day with a panel discussion on “Impediments to the Protection of Civilians”, moderated by Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. It featured presentations by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Yves Daccord, Director-General, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Jason Cone, Executive Director, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, United States; Elisabeth Decrey-Warner, President, Geneva Call; and Hassin Ahmed Abdulkarim, Director, Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization.

Opening the discussion, Mr. O’BRIEN said a “shocking” disrespect for international humanitarian law had contributed significantly to death, displacement and the untold loss suffered by people around the world. “There is something fundamentally wrong in a world where attacks on hospitals and schools, on places of worship and public markets, on ethnic and religious groups, have become so commonplace that they cease to incite any reaction,” he said, expressing condolences to the Turkish people and Government in the wake of the attacks in Istanbul. At the recent World Humanitarian Summit, more than 400 commitments had been made, including for the protection of humanitarian and medical personnel and objects, the tracking and reporting of violations, and strengthening of justice for victims.

He said such actions were the first steps towards meeting the Secretary-General’s call for States to use political and economic leverage to ensure that parties to conflict complied with international humanitarian and human rights law. “Each one of us has the moral obligation to shape policies and decisions,” he said, urging improved collection, analysis and presentation of data on violations of international humanitarian law and the launch a comprehensive campaign demanding an end to disrespect for the law. It was urgent to examine the complexity of impediments to the protection of civilians, and develop measures to confront them “head on” in order to reduce human suffering.

Mr. DACCORD, responding to a question about steps that States, the Security Council, non-State armed groups and humanitarian organizations could take to comply with international humanitarian law, said one measure was to discuss, in forums such as the Council, issues relating to the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law. Implementation of that law, as well as public international law, posed a problem. Between countries, it was difficult to achieve the necessary convergence; that must be discussed. Implementation was the primary responsibility of States and ICRC could help in that regard, working it into national legislation and for example, into armed forces. Intergovernmental initiatives could also enhance implementation.

Mr. CONE, asked by Mr. O’Brien about the role of the Security Council and others to make resolution 2286 (2016) a reality in peoples’ lives, said frameworks, norms and rules had been established. The Security Council could allow the basics for providing assistance, first and foremost by allowing populations to gain access to the dialogue and accepting that Médecins Sans Frontières had to “negotiate with the enemy”. The practice of providing care to those in need could not be criminalized. Médecins Sans Frontières had experienced more than 100 attacks in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere, he said, noting that four of the five permanent Council members had been linked to such attacks. There was push back to States. “Are you willing to uphold those norms and when violated,” he asked, accept independent and impartial investigations of attacks? Acceptance was critical for those taking incredible risks on the front lines to assist the people bearing the brunt of those assaults. The issue raised questions around values that international and multilateral organization respected. The Security Council could create a feedback and accountability loop. It was not enough for States to investigate themselves.

Ms. DECREY-WARNER, asked about the evolution of armed groups’ willingness to respect international humanitarian law, said it was important to understand motivations of those groups in order to improve their behaviour. Noting that Geneva Call had worked for 17 years with 100 of those groups, she said many non-State actors did not know the rules of humanitarian law, making awareness-raising and ownership important. A weak chain of command was another reason groups violated humanitarian law, as was a lack of ability to respect humanitarian standards. Groups’ willingness to improve their own behaviour was another issue. Geneva Call had interviewed 19 armed groups about humanitarian access. They were interested to learn more about international humanitarian law, but not prepared to respect all of them. “This is a lengthy process,” she said, noting there were groups with no hope of improvement. To improve respect, it was necessary to work on issues of access, as States often impeded humanitarian personnel from working with non-State armed groups. Criminalizing humanitarian workers in contact with those groups was another problem. She urged political support for training in humanitarian law for those actors.

Mr. ABDULKARIM, asked about the challenges health-care workers faced in providing impartial medical care, said a minor impediment was that the State was not always prepared for a rapid response to a situation. It should have emergency plans in place. Other issues were the access of health staff to health institutions, availability of medical resources, capacity-building and infrastructure destruction. People with disabilities were vulnerable to receiving services. Displaced people in Iraq often stressed the public health system, making it difficult for providers to address 3.5 million internally displaced persons. Abuse of health system resources and their use for the benefit of state and non-State actors also had made access to health bodies difficult. For example, it had been difficult to get medication and equipment into Fallujah, a city of 100,000 people dealing with some 10,000 victims — 3,000 people killed and almost 7,000 injured — all of whom had lacked health care.

Ms. ZERROUGUI, asked about the effects of monitoring and reporting of children’s rights violations, said the monitoring and reporting mechanism was established by the Council to engage with non-State actors and the highest United Nations representative in the country concerned. Because it was a tool of the Security Council and linked to the listing and delisting, it could engage constructively with parties to conflict, identify what was lacking and how to remedy problems. “We are working with countries that are making progress,” she said, stressing the importance for parties to be convinced that what they were doing was not helping them win. States must protect the tools that they themselves had put in place, she said, stressing that the mechanism had been put in place because States were unhappy with the way information was gathered. Systematically targeting schools and killing children in their homes would not achieve military victory. Non-State actors would like to engage when they had an interest, and the mechanism helped them identify that interest. Some 150,000 children had been released thanks to the mechanism, many of whom were now championing an end to child recruitment.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers said disrespect for international humanitarian law was the biggest impediment to civilian protection, with a number of them supporting the need for independent investigations into abuse.

Mr. DACCORD, to a question from Iraq’s representative on measures Governments could take to better coordinate with United Nations agencies, said dialogue with the State was at the heart of the work being carried out. Close cooperation was indeed essential.

To a question by the United Kingdom’s representative on how to secure access to civilians in need, he said that, when parties respected international humanitarian law, it radically affected the population, notably through access to health. ICRC was ready to engage with States on their responsibilities. “We cannot impose humanitarian action on States or affected populations,” he said. Humanitarian action required competence and trust in order to secure access. The question centred on whether it was direct access to an affected population or through local partners. ICRC believed in direct access in order to understand needs and help communities find solutions.

Mr. ABDULKARIM, to those questions, said United Nations agencies and international and local non-governmental organizations could work with the Government to establish a rapid-response plan that took into account community-based approaches to health care. A nation-wide preparedness plan to respond to crises would help Iraq find alternative solutions to the situation. On the policy side, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations could work with the Government to enhance respect for international humanitarian laws. Geneva Call had offered training for Peshmerga in Kurdistan; the same could be done with other actors and non-State militia working with the Iraqi Government.

Mr. CONE said the right to assistance went hand-in-hand with the right to flee violence. There were political choices that pushed people back into violence. A troubling pattern of people not being assisted in crossing the Mediterranean or trying to traverse the Balkans had emerged. He pressed States to look at the policies that had increased peoples’ vulnerability. In addition, extreme measures had been taken to protect civilians, such as in Malakal, South Sudan. States must reflect on how emergency measures were meaningfully protecting civilians. The basic standards of humanity existed in civilian sites. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations — which provided physical protection in those sites — must critically reflect on the mechanisms set up to address emergencies.

Ms. ZERROUGUI underlined the importance of having a mechanism that represented the Government ministries and institutions involved in coordinating with United Nations agencies on the ground. Governments were punishing their populations by restricting access to what was happening on the ground. “Governments need us as partners that can engage with parties,” she stressed, noting that she received information because “people trust me” and understood that she spoke for their rights. The Government was the first to be blamed by their people if they did not receive what they needed. It was in their interest.

Ms. DECREY-WARNER said there were two types of access being discussed. The first was that States authorized access to United Nations agencies or ICRC so they could contact armed groups. Too many States denied that access. The second type was access given by conflict parties to humanitarian organizations in order to provide care to affected populations. Trust was important in that regard, she said, noting that, if groups received information before a crisis became extreme, they were more open to allowing assistance.

Ms. ZERROUGUI, asked by the United States representative about lessons his Government could learned from the mechanism so it could work with the international community to obtain better data on the “access challenge”, said the mechanism allowed United Nations to engage with parties. With direct access to the military, justice minister and those in charge of humanitarian access, there was more space to move the situation forward.

Mr. CONE, to a question by South Africa’s delegate on the decision to withdraw from the World Humanitarian Summit, said Médecins Sans Frontières thought the summit would fall short in the area of humanitarian response. There had been enormous insufficiencies in the quantity and quality of aid provided, including for Ebola or yellow fever in Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo. There was also a fundamental disagreement over the humanitarian-development nexus. There was an important separation between the two.

In addition, he said, Médecins Sans Frontières was uncomfortable with the notions of resilience of internally displaced persons affected by both natural and man-made conflicts. Today, the standard was that assistance would be brought in months, rather than days and weeks, and that people would be left to their own devices, blocked and sent back. His organization believed the agenda was not strong enough to address their needs, he said, citing Burundian refugees in Rwanda living without enough latrines and shelter.

As to role of regional organizations, a point raised by the European Union delegate, he said discussions in the Security Council must be reinforced. The compact on people with disabilities was among the most important outcomes of the Summit, he said, answering a question by Finland’s representative.

Mr. DACCORD cited examples of the important role of regional organizations in respecting international humanitarian law, notably the African Union in the Kampala Declaration. The focus on disabled persons was important and ICRC had focused on physical rehabilitation for disabled people living in conflict-affected areas. Financing was needed in that regard.

Ms. DECREY-WARNER, on training, said long-term investment was needed.

Mr. DACCORD, on what could be done about impunity, said the challenge was to implement the international legal framework in the national context. National legislation should enable the implementation of sanctions.

Ms. DECREY-WARNER, on that point, drew attention to the balance between positive incentives and sanctions, as simply educating non-State groups did not guarantee the elimination of impunity. “We need to explain to them that peace cannot be built on atrocities,” she said, noting that they must be held accountable.

Mr. CONE agreed that those who broke the law should be punished. Perpetrators and victims were both trying to understand what happened in attacks, such as the bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières facility in Afghanistan. In that case, the State had accepted responsibility. He underscored the need to put in place checks and balances through multilateral systems, investigative bodies and international tribunals. Intentionality was not the sole threshold that had to be established in order to have a problem. Reckless behaviour and weapons use also breached the law.

Mr. ABDULKARIM, to a question on deterring people from freed areas in Iraq, said that while Ramadi had been liberated, 80 per cent of the city had been destroyed, meaning that “people have no homes to go back to.” Security constrains were another concern, as was the fear of repeating the same conflict. People also had found new safe havens, where there were good social and economic opportunities, rather than return to fragile situations.

Also speaking were representatives of United Kingdom and Switzerland, as well as representatives of the Children and Youth Major Group and the World Federation for Mental Health.


MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia), aligning himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that, given the magnitude of the current challenges, States must work together and with civil society and private-sector partners to carry out much-needed work. Crisis prevention was critical and advancing partnerships in that regard must be at the centre of efforts. Long-term investments in disaster risk reduction were also needed, he said, emphasizing the importance of such initiatives in Indonesia, which had launched a national blueprint for action. Reaching the poor and vulnerable was essential to advance development objectives and including women was key.

TIM MAWE (Ireland) said that ahead of the General Assembly High-Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants, to be held in September, it was important to move forward by building long-term solutions. The United Nations was at the centre of humanitarian efforts and should continue with reforms that would improve the delivery of assistance. Pool funds were central to delivering results stemming from commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit. Vulnerable groups, including women and children, must receive due attention. The year ahead would be challenging, but now was the time to take stock of where things stood and where the world would like to be in a few years. The international community had a responsibility to ensure that no one was left behind.

MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia) said following the Summit, it was clear that the meeting was not the end, but the beginning of addressing the needs of growing numbers of refugees and displaced persons. Time should not be wasted and urgent measures must be taken to end wars and conflict, with political solutions that considered vulnerable groups, including women. More than 700,000 migrants had passed through Serbia. Expressing concern that the trend would continue unless lasting solutions were found, he called for a comprehensive European-wide solution. The Council had a key role to play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, said that engaging with stakeholders must ensure that the core humanitarian values were respected. For its part, Estonia had begun an initiative to alleviate the needs of the most vulnerable, including the growing number of migrants and forcibly displaced people. Children were particularly vulnerable and their protection and education needs must be addressed by humanitarian action. Humanitarian and development actors must learn how to work better together, bridging the divide. That could be done by having one United Nations coordinator at the national level. Estonia had joined the Grand Bargain on humanitarian financing and supported the commitments made at the Summit in Istanbul in May.

OH YOUNG YU (Republic of Korea) said the international community must adopt a “game-changing” approach to humanitarian action to address pressing challenges. The Summit had charged a momentum to transform commitments into action. Outlining priorities for her Government, she said conflict prevention must be bolstered and funding for humanitarian efforts must be sustainable and reach vulnerable populations. The humanitarian and development divide must also be bridged to ensure better collective outcomes. Efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda should reflect humanitarian concerns. The Republic of Korea would continue to support those goals and to work with partners.

MENELAOS MENELAOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the statement of the European Union, said it was highly important for assistance to be provided more effectively, with greater involvement from local communities. Humanitarian policies needed to be gender responsive, and women and girls seen as powerful actors rather than just victims. He regretted that, during the Summit, the host country’s stance towards Cyprus was disappointing and in disregard of United Nations principles and relevant United Nations resolutions. That was totally inappropriate, even more so as that had been a Summit which, among other things, aimed at upholding international law. In following up on the Summit, it was important to ensure a collective discussion at the United Nations level, without political distractions that would play down what was at stake.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said climate change consequences were affecting many countries and action must be taken to address those situations while ensuring no one was left behind. Humanitarian principles must guide the establishment and maintenance of access to vulnerable populations, with political commitment driving efforts. Preventing and finding peaceful solutions to conflict were also critical, he said, condemning attacks on civilian targets. Indiscriminate attacks on those who helped people in need were unacceptable. Attention should be paid to women and children, who were the targets of violence, and they must play a role in finding solutions. Unfortunately, the resolution to be adopted today had not included all of those references. For its part, Costa Rica had taken a number of steps to reduce risks, including risks due to climate change.

MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said national efforts had included welcoming Syrian refugees and providing humanitarian assistance to people in need. Those affected by disasters must also be considered, as they often faced the same consequences as those affected by conflict. Adequate housing and other services should aim at helping the displaced persons while building the capacities of communities to better prepare for disasters and to address vulnerabilities. For conflict-affected populations, people must be the drivers of their own fate, with full respect of humanitarian principles and international law.

LUO JIN (China) said conflict had uprooted populations and the international community must work together to tackle those related challenges. Work in that area must abide by the United Nations Charter and respect States’ territorial integrity. The politicization of humanitarian issues must be avoided, she said, emphasizing that civilians must be protected in conflict zones. A spike in humanitarian crises had been triggered by conflict rooted in economic and political crises. To address poverty-related challenges, continued support for least developed countries and better partnerships, in that regard, were needed. The ultimate goal of partnership-building was pooling resources to enhance progress among developing countries. The legal role of the country involved in crises must also be recognized so it could take a leadership role. To deliver on those and related commitments, existing mechanisms in the United Nations humanitarian system should be used and consistently improved upon to ensure positive results.

Mr. KONIG (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said the international community must live up to the commitments made at the Summit, inviting those that had not attended to work together to ensure that the best assistance was provided to affected people. Only political solutions to conflicts would reduce humanitarian needs. There had been recognition in Istanbul of the need for increased efficiency of humanitarian action. Different actors must work better together. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report on the Summit. In the Grand Bargain, he cited the increased use of cash-based programming, reduction of earmarking and simplification of reporting requirements in order to focus on humanitarian work. More funding for humanitarian assistance would better help people in need, he said, stressing the importance of upholding humanitarian principles in that regard.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77, said El Niño had impacted countries in Africa, including his own, and called for countries to unite to meet humanitarian needs caused by such disasters. The lack of food and “other evils” threatened United Nations efforts to address all phases of emergencies. He called for more cooperation in supporting national efforts to overcome natural disasters and to improve States’ ability to respond. Cooperation and improving the capacities of both Government and non-governmental organizations must become more efficient. The goal was not to weaken national capacity, but, rather, to ensure respect for the principles of cohesion, solidarity, cooperation and sovereignty in meeting urgent humanitarian needs. The root causes of disasters must be addressed.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that humanitarian responses should be quick, gender-sensitive and contribute to resilience, with due attention to the most vulnerable. Expressing particular support for investment in cash-based programming that supported local markets, the promotion of local procurement of goods and services, and the development of social safety nets and insurance mechanisms for vulnerable populations, he stressed that the coordination between the humanitarian and development dimensions should be guided by a customized and context-specific approach. It was critical to better bridge silos, and to address the root causes of disasters, emergencies, chronic vulnerability and conflicts. Humanitarian challenges brought about by new technologies, such as autonomous weapons systems and drones, as well as compliance with international law by private military and security companies, must also be addressed.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada) said Canada was doing more multi-year planning and programming in protracted crises, working in greater collaboration with development actors, supporting local responders and investing in innovative programming to address the underlying causes of vulnerability. It was now time for action to implement commitments and to seize the opportunity to do better for humanity. Canada would continue to meet its responsibilities by opening its doors and lending a welcoming hand to those around the world in greatest need. He noted Canada’s candidacy for a Security Council seat for the 2012-2013 term, adding that it was increasing its support for peacekeeping operations, as well as for mediation, prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.

THERESE RODRIGUEZ CANTADA (Philippines), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said strengthening the coordination of humanitarian action was needed. For its part, the Philippines and the United States launched guidelines to help migrants in crisis. Disaster displacement was another concern, she said, emphasizing that equal attention should be paid to climate or health crises as to those stemming from conflict. Preparedness for crises and disasters was a worthy investment. However, little had been done to strengthen countries’ capacities to cope with crises. The 2030 Agenda, the Sendai Framework and the Paris Agreement had supported the need to recognize the needs of refugees and migrants and the nexus between humanitarian and development efforts.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said national efforts had contributed to supporting developing countries with initiatives that included poverty reduction, education and health programmes. Due to Armenia’s occupation of parts of Azerbaijan, he indicated there was an alarming number of internally displaced persons, totalling 41 million as of 2015, and regretted to say that situation had received too little attention in the global arena. Azerbaijan supported the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity, he said, emphasizing that while the challenges were complex, the international community must, among other things, invest more in preventing and finding political solutions to conflicts.

Mr. AVDEEV (Russian Federation) said the United Nations had provided assistance to alleviate the suffering of many people. Politicization of humanitarian issues was not acceptable, undermining States in terms of principles of neutrality. Following the Summit, it was time to study the proposals and pledges made and the possibilities to incorporate them into General Assembly resolutions. A process, however, must include all States; efforts to shape solutions in small groups of States and then “throwing” them into the international arena were counterproductive. Efforts must not bypass the sovereignty of States. Monitoring and forecasting mechanisms for disasters must be improved and international assistance must be better integrated to mitigate crises.

SOFYA SIMONYAN (Armenia) said Armenia was Europe’s third-largest recipient of Syrian refugees per capita, with more than 20,000 having sought protection in the country, in addition to hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and more than 1,000 displaced from Iraq. It had implemented integration and settlement programmes for displaced people, she said, acknowledging the invaluable role of international institutions, the non-governmental sector, and diaspora and faith-based organizations. It was critical to look more closely at the role that regional and subregional organizations could play in addressing the humanitarian-development divide. She added that it was a priority for the United Nations system to strengthen and adapt its prevention function and build greater resilience, and emphasized the role of field missions in that regard.

ABDULAZIZ S M A ALJARALLAH (Kuwait), condemning the airport attack in Turkey and associating with the Group of 77, said humanitarian crises required a sense of shared responsibility. They often were due to natural disasters or armed conflict. Noting that the international community had not established a common position, he reaffirmed the importance of swiftly grappling with the root causes of conflict to arrive at political solutions that would “end the bloodbath”. It was important to ensure humanitarian access, and to respect both the Charter and international humanitarian law. “Impunity cannot be an option in situations of armed conflict,” he said, stressing that no efforts must be spared in providing assistance. Kuwait had provided more than $500,000 over 15 years for development projects around the world. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report to assess measures taken to mitigate crises.

OSCAR R. DE ROJAS, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, emphasized the importance of faith-based organizations in humanitarian action, saying their work was often very fast and effective. They had networks already in place with existing faith communities and they were usually prepared to stay in the field for longer periods of time, enabling them to build trust and help with the reconciliation process. Spiritual needs were often neglected in humanitarian situations, but faith-based organizations could fill that gap by giving people a sense of purpose. He said the Order intended to actively participate in the General Assembly high-level meeting on refugees and migration on 19 September and that it would host, in 2017, a meeting between religious actors and other stakeholders to improve dissemination and implementation of international humanitarian law.

HESHAM YOUSSEF of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said displacement had become more permanent in many countries as conflicts had grown more protracted, noting that three of the four “level four” crises were in OIC member States. Protracted humanitarian crises would not be solved without political solutions. OIC would work with States to integrate refugees and internally displaced persons into national development plans, as well as work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to achieve objectives at the meeting on refugees and migrants on 19 September. It was imperative that local non-governmental organizations received international support in delivering assistance in conflict areas. Citing the upholding international humanitarian law and ensuring civilian protection as OIC priorities, he expressed hope that Secretary-General’s report on the Summit would outline a vision for the humanitarian landscape, a road map and priority actions.

PHILIP SPOERI of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said States must move from ambition to action, as millions of people continued to suffer from violations of international humanitarian law, with the Lake Chad Basin now a major regional emergency. Noting that States had begun to work in an intergovernmental process to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law, he said ICRC continued to engage confidentially and bilaterally to strengthen that respect. In addition, internally displaced persons must be integrated into services and their protection needs met over the long term through an approach that bridged the divide between relief and development. Those living outside camps must not be forgotten and ICRC could play a role in that regard. The Kampala Convention represented an excellent way of working with internally displaced persons.

ANNE CHRISTENSEN of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was clear that top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches did not work in a humanitarian ecosystem characterized by many different actors. “We can no longer measure our progress in terms of people assisted,” she said. “All of us must take more action to prevent suffering.” Providing a snapshot of the Federation’s One Billion Coalition for Resilience, she said the goal was to take action to strengthen communities by 2023, including important new partnerships forged at the Summit. Action must also match rhetoric in building local humanitarian capacity. The Grand Bargain had set an important new marker in that regard. “Letting down millions of people trapped in humanitarian crises and those vulnerable to tomorrow’s emergencies is not an option,” she said. “We need to work both smarter and harder as humanitarians and development actors, as Governments, as donors and as an international community.”

AGNÈS MARCAILLOU, Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said international law had been too often flagrantly violated in conflict situations, with deliberate targeting of civilians and blocking assistance to reach those in need. The commitments made should consider the horrendous humanitarian impact of explosive hazards. Efforts stemming from the Summit and the Agenda for Humanity must integrate humanitarian mine action into strategies, planning, programming and financing. Humanitarian mine action was not synonymous with demining or even clearance; rather it served to assess the nature and scope of actual or perceived contamination of roads, agricultural fields, landing pads and residential and urban areas by mines, unexploded ordnance, booby traps and improvised explosive devices. Mine Action Service interventions enabled coherent and effective humanitarian assistance and stabilization, allowing displaced persons to return home and humanitarian workers to carry out their tasks.

RICK BRENNAN of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that while progress had been made in tackling Ebola and other crises, too many people were living in horrible conditions stemming from conflict and natural disasters. Diseases had spread in such conditions and more than 50 per cent of preventable deaths among children and 60 per cent of deaths among women occurred in settings of conflict and fragility. Life-saving health services must reach those in crisis situations and collective action must be taken to ensure sanitation and clean water. Adults must be healthy to rebuild after a crisis and children must be in good health to learn. WHO would continue to condemn the unacceptable attacks on health workers. Action must be taken now, he stressed.

YASMIN HAQUE, Deputy Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), urged all parties to conflict to comply with international law, as well as maintain programmes to ensure children’s safety, protect them from gender-based violence, reunite them with their families and provide emergency mine risk education. Education must be sustained in the midst of crisis. Yet, it received less than 2 per cent of humanitarian funding. New ways must be found to hear and heed the voices of people in need when shaping programmes and services. Efforts must be equally relentless in reaching the most unreachable children. UNICEF was committed to taking forward pledges made at the Summit to build a more robust operational system that placed children’s rights at the heart of humanitarian and development action.

CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the Liaison Office to the United Nations of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that, in Syria, farmers were struggling to keep their lands productive. They were the backbone of Syria’s food supply and would be essential to the country’s recovery. In Somalia, cash-for-work programmes helped overcome famine and protect livelihoods. In that context, she recalled that ensuring food security and nutrition was the foundation for building peaceful societies. She reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to investing in preparedness, building resilience, responding to emergencies and fostering long-term development in line with the 2030 Agenda.

CHRISTINE MATTHEWS, Deputy Director of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said more than 1 million refugees and migrants had arrived on southern European shores, of which more than 84 per cent were from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq among them. New crises in Burundi and Yemen were forcing hundreds of thousands of people to seek safety in neighbouring countries. “It is no surprise that the international humanitarian system is under enormous strain,” she said, stressing that partnerships were essential to UNHCR’s response. More must be done to mobilize collective action to address the unprecedented displacement crisis. The proposed Global Compact on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees would be a commitment by States to better share responsibility based on existing legal obligations, standards and best practices. It would be an unequivocal recognition that “no refugee should be left behind”.

VINICIUS PINHEIRO, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director of the New York Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said relief turned into development when refugees and other forcibly displaced people were given access to labour markets and decent jobs opportunities, and when the positive economic impacts of large movements of migrants and refugees were optimized. No peacebuilding, post-conflict and disaster recovery strategies would be sustainable without strong employment components. Having addressed humanitarian issues, including with the Employment Transition from War to Peace Recommendation of 1944, ILO was now revising it to consider contemporary contexts and the need to respond to conflict and disaster situations. With regard to the refugee crisis, ILO constituents had asked for a set of guiding principles on labour market access for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. ILO was also engaged in other areas, including preparing for the World Summit on Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees, to be held in September.

RICARDO DE GUIMARÃES PINTO of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) emphasized that conflicts were changing shape and that culture and identity had moved to the frontlines of new wars. Indeed, there was a “new global struggle for hearts and minds”, especially those of young people, which featured attacks against the symbols and institutions of creativity and free thinking. In Syria, all six World Heritage Sites had been damaged by fighting, he pointed out, stressing that the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage was a war crime. Underscoring the global priority of supporting education in emergency situations, he noted that “education cannot wait until a conflict is over or a disaster mended”. In addition, freedom of expression and freedom of information were needed in order to build peace, as they mitigated risks, challenges rumours, empowered citizens and promoted reconciliation and dialogue. In particular, journalists — who faced attacks, harassment, kidnapping and torture — must be protected.

Mr. MUCHKA (Czech Republic) said national efforts had included cooperating with affected populations and countries while promoting humanitarian cooperation within the European Union. The Czech Republic was also cooperating with relevant United Nations agencies and partners. Special attention was being paid to conflict prevention, preparedness and resilience-building, and participating in the shaping of the Sendai Framework.

LUCÍA AMIRI-TALESH (Peru) said recently adopted instruments had been indicative of a drive for progress in dealing with humanitarian situations. Political action was also necessary to address the needs of vulnerable populations and long-term plans should aim at improving the delivery of assistance. Reducing risk, addressing crisis prevention and achieving sustainable development were also key. Turning to national concerns, she said El Niño had harmed many of Peru’s communities, prompting a swift response from the Government. However, those efforts had been insufficient in the face of colossal challenges. Moving forward, Peru would cooperate with stakeholders to address humanitarian crises.

Mr. ARKOCHA (Mexico) said systematic inequality must be addressed with a view to ensuring swift and effective responses that included all stakeholders and those affected by crises. To prevent conflict, public services must be enhanced and analysis on the ground must be improved to act as an effective warning mechanism for potential conflict. With regard to humanitarian assistance and emergency response, Mexico had increased aid in 2015. Going forward, humanitarian and development actors must work together to build strong communities.


The Council then adopted the draft resolution on “strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document E/2016/L.20).

For information media. Not an official record.