I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
The coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance is one of the core activities carried out by the United Nations. The European Union thanks the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mr. John Holmes for his tireless leadership and acknowledges his and OCHAs key role in coordinating international humanitarian action.
The world is currently facing inter-connected mega-trends such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, and the scarcity of energy and water. Continued high food prices, as well as the impacts of the financial crisis, further adds to the vulnerability of already fragile populations. The various challenges may also lead to destabilisation and new dynamics in conflicts. This together puts an increasing pressure on the humanitarian system. Together, we need to ensure that the humanitarian response is strengthened and fit for purpose.
More efforts are needed to strengthen disaster preparedness at the local, regional and national level. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has a central role in coordinating international efforts to enhance disaster risk reduction. These efforts go beyond the scope of humanitarian aid. Disaster risk reduction must be integrated into planning and policies in the field of development cooperation and climate change adaptation. Humanitarian and development actors must join in partnership, applying the Principles of Partnership to ensure integrated support for national and local authorities and NGOs. Support should also be provided to strengthen capacities to effectively receive international assistance. We underline the importance of the use of the IDRL Guidelines (International Disaster Response Laws, Rules and Principles), elaborated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and unanimously adopted in 2007 by States and National Societies.
Further efforts are needed to strengthen the international humanitarian response to ensure timely and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. We welcome the positive effects of the humanitarian reforms to date. The cluster approach has contributed to improving the capacity in the field, as well as enhancing accountability towards stakeholders and the inclusiveness of actors involved. The Humanitarian Coordinators have a key role in ensuring coordination and leadership for international humanitarian assistance. Enhanced efforts to further empower and strengthen the capacity of the Humanitarian Coordinators are imperative. Finally, pooled funds have contributed to predictability and effectiveness of humanitarian aid.
In times of increasing global humanitarian needs, we have a responsibility to ensure that scarce resources are allocated in proportion to actual humanitarian needs. A framework for common needs assessments is absolutely crucial to bring about shared understanding of humanitarian needs. This would contribute to a more optimal allocation of resources and a more effective and targeted response. OCHA has a central role in taking this process forward and the EU strongly encourages all relevant humanitarian actors to cooperate in this important endeavour.
Effective humanitarian response is also dependent on adequate, predictable, equitable and timely funding. We urge all donors to apply the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship. The Central Emergency Response Fund has proven to be an efficient and valuable financing mechanism and we welcome the large number of member states having contributed. Looking forward to the CERF high-level meeting this week, we hope for renewed commitments as well as contributions from new donors to this important fund. Adequate and predictable funding to humanitarian organisations is also key to an effective and timely response, including through humanitarian pooled funds as well as support to humanitarian agencies individual emergency reserves.
Effective humanitarian response addresses the needs and concerns of all groups in an affected population. Understanding how conflicts and disasters affect women, men, boys and girls differently and basing programming on their differential needs and capacities is critical. This includes specific attention in needs assessment processes, including gender-balance in deployment of personnel, and in the allocation of resources. Gender inequalities also undermine the ability of women and girls to be active partners in emergency response and rehabilitation.
Displacement is the most significant humanitarian challenge that we face. The estimated number of people displaced by armed conflicts and violence is over 26 million. It is also estimated that each year, approximately 50 million people are displaced due to natural disasters. The displaced are forced to flee in moments, losing their possessions, land and separated from family and communities. Millions are left destitute with little or no access to basic services, to food, water, adequate shelter, or livelihoods. Despite these recognized facts, the protection of and assistance to IDPs remains the greatest gap in humanitarian response. We welcome the recent adoption of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, marking a step towards strengthening the protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons in Africa.
The EU is deeply concerned that in situations of complex emergencies the preservation of humanitarian space continues to be a challenge. As a result, millions of vulnerable people are deprived of assistance and protection. We urge all states and all parties to a conflict to ensure the timely, safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel and supplies to affected populations in accordance with international humanitarian law. The EU will continue to strongly advocate for international humanitarian law and the respect for and the adherence to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. These principles constitute the core of humanitarian assistance and must be respected by all parties at all times.
The EU calls for urgent efforts to strengthen the protection of civilians. Action on the ground has not yet matched the development of international norms and standards. We welcome resolution 1894 that was adopted by the Security Council, with emphasis on clarifying the role of peacekeeping missions in protection of civilians. Action is particularly needed for effective prevention, investigation and prosecution of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence. We call for the full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and look forward to the Secretary-Generals appointment of a Special Representative to lead concerted international action against sexual violence. The Comprehensive Strategy for Combating Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a good example of action at the national level and should be replicated in similar situations.
Threats and deliberate attacks against United Nations and other humanitarian personnel are unacceptable. Reports of dramatic escalation of incidents, including politically motivated attacks are of grave concern. We need concerted international action now. We must acknowledge that the safety and security of humanitarian workers is an issue of interest to all stakeholders: humanitarian organizations, affected populations, host governments and donors alike. All states and all actors must take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of all humanitarian personnel. We must also promote the understanding of and support for independent, neutral and impartial humanitarian action.
The EU is concerned by increased involvement of military actors in humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance must be civilian by nature. While there may be situations where military capabilities have an added value, this should only be an option of last resort. The distinct roles of military and humanitarian actors must be respected. Adequate civil-military coordination is essential and OCHA has a central role in this regard. We emphasize the need to use of the Oslo Guidelines as well as the Military and Civil Defence Assets Guidelines in Complex Emergencies.
More frequent and severe humanitarian emergencies are a reality. The inter-connected mega challenges will hit already vulnerable populations the hardest and can hamper poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals . By forging a deeper and more engaged global humanitarian partnership we enhance the legitimacy of international humanitarian assistance, and allow for a more effective response to these challenges. The EU is committed to continuing to engage with all member states in strengthening this humanitarian partnership as we are heading towards important milestones in the next few years. In 2011, 20 years will have passed since the resolution that founded the international humanitarian system, 46/182, was adopted in the General Assembly. Next year we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the establishment of the central emergency response fund. These events will provide the opportunity to take stock, and even more importantly, to look to the future.
I thank you.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.