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The Economic and Social Council this morning adopted three resolutions under its Operational Activities Segment, entitled “operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation”, and adopted one resolution under its Humanitarian Affairs Segment, entitled “special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance”, and then concluded consideration of both segments.
Action on Resolution Under Humanitarian Affairs Segment
In a resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, contained in an informal paper and adopted by consensus, the Council encouraged Member States to create and strengthen an enabling environment for the capacity-building of their national and local authorities, national societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and national and local non-governmental and community-based organizations in providing timely humanitarian assistance, and also encourages the international community, the relevant entities of the United Nations and other relevant institutions and organizations to support national authorities in their capacity-building programmes, including through technical cooperation and long-term partnerships based on recognition of their important role in providing humanitarian assistance; encourages Member States, and, where applicable, relevant regional organizations to strengthen operational and legal frameworks for international disaster relief; encourages efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination of United Nations humanitarian entities, other relevant humanitarian organizations and donor countries with the affected State; requests the Emergency Relief Coordinator to continue his efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance; urges all actors engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance to fully commit to and duly respect the guiding principles contained in the annex of General Assembly resolution 46/182, including the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality as well as the principle of independence as adopted in General Assembly resolution 58/114; calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law; calls upon all States and parties to comply fully with the provisions of international humanitarian law; urges Member States to continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, premises, facilities, equipment, vehicles and supplies; urges Member States to continue to prevent, investigate and prosecute acts of gender-based violence, including sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies; and calls upon United Nations humanitarian organizations, in consultation with Member States, as appropriate, to strengthen the evidence base for humanitarian assistance.
RANIA RIFAIY (Syria), speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked all Member States for their efforts in coming to consensus on this text. Syria showed enormous concessions to reach this consensus and therefore would not block it; however it raised deep concern at the efforts to politicize a number of paragraphs (13/14) in the resolution, which were included in the first place to help civilians, but were now seen to equate the aggressor with the aggressed, and undermined the responsibility of States in this matter. Everyone knew of the grave situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Golan, occupied by Israel, while the international community stood by. The occupying power was pushing Syrians away from their lands and forcing them to give up their identity in the Golan. Syria urged the international community to exert pressure on the occupying power to allow unhindered humanitarian aid and assistance to reach the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Baby food and medicine were being used as a bargaining leverage, and Syria was of the view that the international community had to shoulder its responsibility in this context.
JOHN HOLMES, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the discussions during the segment had been rich and valuable, and the panels had enriched the discussion with real-world perspectives and expertise. In due course, all points and issues raised during the segment would be answered. It was sobering that many of the same issues had been discussed in previous years - it was a sad fact that there was still a need to call for the respect of humanitarian principles of independence, humanity, and impartiality. It was worrying that the struggle for full and unimpeded humanitarian access remained the focus of humanitarian workers rather than the delivery of humanitarian assistance. All should thus exert their efforts to provide better access and security for humanitarian workers on the ground. On the debate on whether humanitarian assistance challenged territorial integrity and sovereignty, this was a sterile debate, and should not arise at all in the context of a classic natural disaster. There should be a balance between national and international responsibilities and obligations.
The protection of civilians in armed conflict had not been explicitly discussed, although it was implicit in many of the debates. This was an area where lip-service to norms and principles was not reflected on the ground, where innocent civilians suffered grievously, and work had to be done to ensure that these norms were translated into everyday behaviour more effectively. That sexual violence continued in so many conflict areas was appalling. More needed to be done to give effect on the ground to the comprehensive strategy that already existed. It was also clear from the discussions that humanitarian needs were changing and evolving. The daunting scale of humanitarian needs generated by the combined impact of global mega-trends of climate change, population growth and urbanisation required more and better humanitarian assistance. The biggest single issue was how to tackle chronic vulnerability on the scale it may currently be emerging. This was an opportunity to bring together humanitarian and development actors. The resolution adopted was a statement to the world of shared humanitarian concerns and commonality of purpose, and would make a valuable contribution to the United Nations body of legislation on humanitarian issues, not least on coordination.
For use of the information media; not an official record