New Zealand remains fully committed to the international humanitarian system
The massive demands on that system over the past year involve us all – governments, the United Nations, Red Cross and Red Crescent, NGOs, civil society and, of course, those individuals – some caught, themselves, in the moment of disaster, but moving quickly to help and rescue others even more perilously placed, others, more distant, who dig deep just to help.
In 2011 the world has continued to grapple with volatile food and fuel processes, with drought and famine in the Horn of Africa and with other smaller but nonetheless serious disasters, all with severe consequences for countries and their populations. Then, there are the many protracted and often overlooked crises that continue to require international humanitarian support.
Likewise, severe food insecurity has required international action – but it’s also showed how reforms in the humanitarian system are delivering better coordinated responses – particularly coordination between humanitarian and development actors and national governments. The result should be more sustainable recovery for affected countries and their communities.
New Zealand supports the United Nations in its leadership and coordination of international humanitarian action in both preparedness and response. We specifically endorse the leading role of OCHA, and we support the efforts of UN agencies, and others, in the twin-track approach of addressing both the immediate humanitarian food crisis and the need for building long-term resilience contributing to food and nutrition security.
New Zealand welcomed the opportunity to serve as Chair of the OCHA Donor Support Group over the past year. We were especially pleased to host and chair the annual OCHA - Donor High Level Meeting in June, which produced some very tangible and worthwhile outcomes for follow up by OCHA and the donor community.
This year has again highlighted concerns about the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, as well as the actions of some groups in conflict areas - actions that prevented populations from receiving or even seeking humanitarian assistance and obstructed humanitarian personnel from discharging their functions. We deplore the erosion of respect for international humanitarian law and principles, the more so as personnel must now operate in increasingly complex situations.
New Zealand has joined others in condemning the expulsion of humanitarian organisations, bans on the activities of humanitarian personnel, targeting, hindering or prevention of the delivery of humanitarian assistance by armed groups. We condemn all attacks, harassment, intimidation, murder, abduction and kidnapping perpetrated against international and national humanitarian personnel and others caught up in crisis situations; and ee particularly condemn acts of murder, rape and sexual assault against women and children.
We therefore strongly support the work of the Secretary General and the Department of Safety and Security to reduce the risks related to UN operations, particularly the “Saving Lives Together” framework.
New Zealand welcomes recent efforts to strengthen UN humanitarian leadership and coordination in-country. We encourage further work to mainstream early recovery into humanitarian programming, and to ensure that clusters are in place quickly and are able to communicate effectively with relevant players, including other clusters, local and international NGOs, national governments and the military.
However, it remains critical for the international community to do much more - and urgently - in mitigation and adaption to deal with climate change. The small island nations of the Pacific and other regions are among the most vulnerable to those effects. and to the potential impact of disasters, whatever their cause. The international community must invest more in early recovery, to bridge the gap between life-saving humanitarian work and longer-term development.
While many member states continue to wrestle with fiscal constraints, there is also an increasing demand on the international humanitarian system. Our elected legislators, taxpayers and other domestic stakeholders expect increased accountability and performance from all our development and humanitarian partners.
It is therefore essential that the United Nations and those partners continue to strengthen their response efforts by monitoring and evaluating the provision of humanitarian assistance, consulting with affected populations and incorporating the lessons learned into programmes. It’s also essential that this work supports gender equality and the empowerment of women.
New Zealand also continues to support the CERF to assist rapid, effective and equitable response to humanitarian crises, large and small: and we remain as responsive as possible to specific humanitarian appeals.
Wherever and whenever humanitarian assistance is provided, our collective and individual goal must be to prevent and alleviate human suffering, and to protect the most exposed and the most vulnerable, regardless of location. That goal deserves our full support. It certainly has New Zealand’s support.