Norway is a strong supporter of the United Nation’s humanitarian work. We support the reform agenda and the efforts made to strengthen the humanitarian support system. A lot has been done. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. In the following we will highlight some important issues in this regard.
Norway is deeply concerned about the sexual and gender based violence that each year destroys the lives of thousands of women and girls, as well as men and boys. The continued use of sexual violence as a method of warfare is appalling. Few perpetrators of these abhorrent acts are brought to justice. There must be an end to the impunity for these severe crimes. As guardians of international humanitarian and human rights law it is our collective responsibility to ensure that such acts do not go unpunished.
The response from the international community must be intensified, including by the United Nations. The United Nations should take the lead in establishing more effective preventive and protective measures to address sexual and gender based violence.
Important steps in this regard are the recommendations by the Secretary-Generals for action against sexual violence in his report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and furthermore the formation of the United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict. The international community has shown its revulsion for sexual violence, including by the adoption of various UN resolutions. There is an urgent need for full implementation of these resolutions.
Another major challenge is access. Access for humanitarian actors to populations in need and the related ability of such populations to receive humanitarian assistance is the prerequisite for all humanitarian operations, as set forth under international humanitarian law. The host government has the responsibility to ensure rapid, safe and unhindered access and fully cooperate with the United Nations and other humanitarian actors. The arbitrary denial of such access is an unacceptable practice that places the lives of millions in danger and prolonging their suffering unnecessarily.
Protection is key in this regard. Norway supports the recommendation of the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council on protection of civilians in armed conflict, and we are looking forward to the debate in the Council tomorrow.
We need to be better prepared to respond to humanitarian emergencies than we currently are.
Prevention needs to be put higher on the agenda of the United Nations. It is widely acknowledged that climate change causes environmental degradation, floods, droughts, hurricanes, involuntary migration, increased urbanisation and an explosion in slum-dwelling. And we are faced with prolonged armed conflicts that increasingly affect already vulnerable states and populations.
Prevention efforts will save more lives and cost less. However, the world community is more willing to pay for the damages than to invest in the cost for preventive measures.
What should be done to mitigate the effects of humanitarian disasters in this changing world?
Firstly, there is a need for a global spokesperson. In this regard Norway welcomes the commitment demonstrated by the Emergency Relief Coordinator in increasing awareness and attention for the importance of better preventive measures. These efforts should be intensified.
Secondly, we need to strengthen our resolve in reforming the international humanitarian response system, including more responsive and appropriate funding mechanism such as the CERF and the establishment of Humanitarian Response Funds in disaster-prone countries. Adequately funding is key, however, and we urge more member states and other donors to contribute to these funds. There is furthermore a need for better coordination both between the various UN agencies and between the UN agencies and other humanitarian actors. And there is a need to strengthen the functions of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators. To this end, Norway is a strong supporter of the cluster approach, which increasingly will contribute to a better coordination and prioritisation in relation to existing humanitarian needs and furthermore will serve as an early warning system for emerging disasters.
Finally, there is still a need for enhanced efforts in capacity development for humanitarian personnel. There is a need to establish better roster systems with pools of experts from all humanitarian fields that are immediately operational and ready for deployment. Only thus will we be ready and prepared to deal with the humanitarian consequences when disaster strikes.