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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. President,

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and the Associated Countries – Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, align themselves with this statement

Mr. President,

The years that have passed since the adoption of resolution 46/182, if anything, have underlined the importance of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance as an instrument to bring relief to people in distress.

There has been an increasing number of natural disasters, possibly in connection with climatic changes, and, irrespective of the progress achieved, we continue to face the risk of widespread human and material losses due to natural events. At the same time, armed conflict has continued in many areas around the world, resulting in large-scale displacement and leaving millions of people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The increasing needs in connection with natural disasters and complex emergencies underline the importance of ensuring that assistance is provided with maximum efficiency and impact.

In response to increasing needs and a growing recognition of the importance of a comprehensive approach there has been a continued development over the last years in the way the international community addresses the humanitarian challenges it is faced with.

The need for greater coordination within the UN system, closer collaboration between the UN and its NGO partners and coherent strategies with governments has been underlined time and again. Another prominent trend has been the effort to better align humanitarian assistance with long-term development assistance in order to ensure a smooth transition. Further, there has been a growing recognition of the need to ensure an integrated approach in complex emergency situations ensuring proper co-ordination of humanitarian assistance activities and political, economic, and human rights as well as other possible measures, including peacekeeping.

Given the importance of such developments, it is essential that member states live up to their responsibilities by accepting the task of outlining overall directions for international work in the field of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. The European Union welcomes that the ECOSOC humanitarian segment this year succeeded in adopting a substantive resolution, reaffirming basic humanitarian principles and addressing a number of current concerns.

Mr. President,

The European Union has repeatedly used the debate under this agenda item to underline the importance it attaches to the question of the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel. In this regard we welcome the Secretary-General’s report on “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations Personnel”. We wish to join the Secretary-General in his appeal to all parties concerned to fulfill their obligations unconditionally so that aid may be supplied in accordance with international humanitarian law. The European Union also wholeheartedly joins the Secretary-General in exhorting Member States to take stronger action to ensure that the perpetrators of attacks against UN personnel are brought to justice.

At the same time we wish to express our appreciation to all humanitarian staff, who continue to work in the most hazardous of environments, often in extreme isolation, with very limited resources, and often with insufficient protection.

The European Union is pleased to learn that steps taken thus far to reinforce the safety and security of UN staff have produced tangible results. We also agree that the increase in threats facing UN staff necessitate an additional reinforcement of the Security Management System. Hopefully, the appointment of a full-time UN Security Coordinator at the Assistant Secretary-General level will help provide essential leadership to UN efforts to strengthen security management. In this regard the EU welcomes the Secretary-General’s report on a framework for accountability within the United Nations Security Management System and looks forward to its implementation

At the same time, we note with some regret that – due to considerable delays in the recruitment of additional staff – The Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator, UNSECOORD has not been able to implement many of the initiatives detailed by the Secretary-General. We wish to take this opportunity to underline the urgency UNSECOORD to be fully staffed and operational as soon as possible.

Further, while welcoming the elaboration of general guidelines, we wish to stress the importance of progress in the area of UN-NGO security collaboration.

Mr. President,

Among the co-ordination tools, the international community has placed in OCHA’s box, the Consolidated Appeals Process – CAP – has a prominent position.

Over the years, much progress has been achieved, and today the CAP seems to be working better than ever before. Agency training and buy-in is increasing. The CAP and the CHAP – the Common Humanitarian Action Plan – have become the strategic planning tools for the humanitarian community. In many ways, the quality of planning and programming has been improved.

At the same time, it is clear that the CAP is not realizing its full potential. In particular, OCHA has repeatedly pointed out the need to overcome the pronounced financing discrepancies that exist between emergencies and between sectors. Part of this discussion has taken place under the heading of “forgotten” or rather “ignored” crises. The question of how to ensure that necessary improvements are made figured prominently in this year’s discussions during the humanitarian segment of ECOSOC and is reflected in the resolution adopted. Furthermore, many donors continue to seek to improve and strengthen the CAP in the context of the so-called Montreux-process.

The European Union recognizes its responsibility to contribute to the financing of emergency needs on an equitable basis. Actually, as was made clear at a recent conference on “Forgotten Crises” in Copenhagen, the humanitarian assistance of the EU Commission is needs-based and, as a matter of principle, aims at covering also needs in connection with long-lasting humanitarian crises. This is also a priority for a number of EU Member States.

The difficulties in establishing an objective basis for assessing needs are well known. Some donors have initiated important work with a view to establishing – on the one hand – more objective standards for judging needs and – on the other hand – identifying criteria that are central in donor decision making.

In view of the wide range of transitional needs, there is general agreement that more has to be done in order to attract development funds and to better engage development actors. As regards Afghanistan, the ITAP appeal and the TAPA appeal for 2003 have demonstrated the advantages of an integrated approach. The decision to include transitional needs in the CAP clearly represents a step forward. At the same time, it is clear that the CAP is defined as an instrument serving humanitarian purposes and that it should remain so. In a wider perspective, an important and challenging aspect of CAP preparation might well be co-ordination with other – developmental – co-ordination instruments, as recognized in the resolution adopted by ECOSOC.

To address the challenges in connection with transition there is a need for new approaches. In this regard the initiative by UNHCR with the participation of UNDP and the World Bank on reintegration of refugees in post-conflict situations is commendable. New initiatives to link relief assistance to refugees with long-term development goals are essential to enable refugees to be real agents of development and positive change. Better co-ordination between development actors is important in this regard.

Another co-ordination tool at the disposal of OCHA is the Revolving Fund. The European Union is pleased to note recent progress in the use of the fund. We agree that further steps to expand its use are not warranted at this stage.

Sometimes, there may be a need to draw upon military and civil defense resources in the implementation of humanitarian and relief assistance. We support ongoing efforts to establish clear guidelines for the use of military and civil defense assets to support UN humanitarian activities in complex emergencies.

Mr. President,

Advocacy is also an important aspect of the work of OCHA. This goes for the general role of OCHA. There is a clear need for a coherent advocacy and public information strategy in relation to the CAP, including the use of decentralized CAP-launches. But OCHA also has a more specific advocacy role in relation to the most vulnerable.

OCHA must ensure that necessary attention is given to IDPs, who often find themselves in extremely vulnerable situations. Further work to promote the responsibility and accountability of all concerned actors, including the operational agencies, is called for. An important supportive role is envisaged for the special unit for IDPs, which has recently been established within OCHA. Continued emphasis should be placed on the dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, as developed by the Secretary General’s Representative on Internally Displaced Persons.

OCHA is also well placed to serve as the system-wide catalyst for concerns pertaining to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. This includes the provision of information and advice to the Security Council and Secretariat departments such as DPKO and DPA. More generally, it is important that OCHA works to increase awareness of these issues in relation to a wide array of constituencies, including agency partners, NGOs and civil society.

The allegations one year ago about widespread sexual abuse of refugees in West Africa gave rise to considerable concern. We have studied with interest the recommendations contained in the report of the OIOS. To avoid the risk of sexual abuse in the future, it is essential to ensure that the right conclusions are drawn and proper measures taken. Important guidance is provided by the plan of action prepared by an Inter-Agency Standing Committee task force addressing a number of prevention, response management and implementation issues. The European Union will closely monitor the translation of the plan of action into the operational and managerial frameworks of the agencies involved. We welcome the elaboration by UNHCR of a specific Code of Conduct with a view to preventing future abuse.

Mr. President,

There is general agreement today about the importance of stepping up efforts in the area of prevention and mitigation of natural disasters. Progress is being made, although maybe not as fast as might be hoped for. Small, but important steps forward were made at this year’s ECOSOC.

The Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is playing an important role in the context of efforts to increase awareness of the devastating impact natural disasters can have on already vulnerable societies. The EU supports the Secretariat’s preventive approach aimed at building more disaster resilient communities at all levels. We also wish to underline the need for coherence and complementarity in relation to other UN actors and the World Bank.

The need for development of standards for emergency humanitarian response is widely recognized. We welcome the initiative that has led to the proposal of a resolution on strengthening the effectiveness and coordination of international urban search and rescue assistance.

Mr. President,

The European Union plays a prominent role in international efforts to relieve humanitarian needs everywhere in the world. Overall, the European Union supplies about 50 per cent of global humanitarian assistance. In 2001, EU member states supplied over one billion euros. In addition to the contributions of the member states, the European Commission through its humanitarian Aid Office – ECHO – allocated in 2001 a total of over 500 million euros to fund humanitarian projects in more than 60 countries.

During 2001 significant progress was made in defining more clearly the relationship between ECHO and its UN partners. In concrete terms, ECHO funding channeled through UN agencies was significantly higher in 2001 than in the previous year.

Over the years OCHA has done much to increase the efficiency and coherence of international humanitarian work and to facilitate the transition from relief to development. The efforts of the office have enjoyed the support of the European Union. We wish to assure Mr. Oshima of our continued support and our readiness to engage in constructive dialogue with the Office and with other Member States of the UN on ways to improve co-ordination and other relevant issues concerning international humanitarian activities.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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