GA: Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations

Last updated: 12/14/2011 // This statement to the General Assembly was delivered by State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Gry Larsen. Even though more people are better off now than ever before, too many live at the margins of human existence.

Mr. President,

More people are better off now than ever before. Many developing countries, not least the largest among them, have experienced a decade or more of impressive growth. Not only have people been lifted out of poverty. Fortunes have been made.

Despite these merits, too many people are left behind – at the margins of human existence.  Some of them live in countries in conflict, others in areas prone to natural disasters.

Common to all these poor is their increasing vulnerability. 

Climate change and environmental degradation, the economic and financial crises, high and fluctuating food prices all expose the poorest of this world to a permanent humanitarian crisis.

Extreme weather events come not only with greater frequency and intensity – their cost in human lives and suffering continue to be unacceptably high. The special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, adopted 18 November in Kampala, informs us on how to reduce and manage these risks.

Despite all our accomplishments - humanitarian needs are increasing, while international humanitarian response is becoming increasingly complex.

We therefore need more and better humanitarian aid.

We need stronger leadership and coordination.

We need to look outside the boxes, to better integrate emergency relief and humanitarian assistance with early recovery and development policies.

All this will require that we improve the dialogue and mutual understanding between everyone involved in humanitarian assistance.

In short - we need to forge new partnerships.

We need better ideas.

Mr. President,

Earlier this year, Norway together with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, invited a number of UN Member States to join us on a Humanitarian Partnership Field Mission to Panama and Haiti.  Participating countries came from a wide range of countries and from different parts of the world.

The purpose was to learn - both together and from each other - in order to improve the quality of international humanitarian cooperation, coordination and response.

A joint report is being prepared and will be made public and available to all Member States shortly.

In the meantime, let me highlight three important observations and recommendations on Norway’s behalf, all to make international humanitarian assistance and coordination more effective and sustainable:

One:

Whenever possible, the international community must strengthen the capacity of national government and local authorities – and work more directly with the people in need.

Two:

In most humanitarian crises and protracted emergencies, the humanitarian- and development community must get better at working together and reassess their traditional way of thinking about each other as separate operations. This also implies more flexible funding.

And three:

We should all get better at promoting the regional dimension of humanitarian aid and coordination, including by promoting south-south cooperation.  Developing countries could take a lead here, by getting even more involved in humanitarian affairs at the global level, in particular through the United Nations.

Finally Mr. President,

Let me underscore the following:

While the United Nations have a leading role to play in the coordination of international humanitarian assistance, the primary responsibility for the protection of people in need remains with their own states and governments.

The best countries can do to meet this responsibility is to invest in preparedness and resilience.  This is ultimately a question of political priority – to invest for the better of all – including the poor.

Thank you.


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