GA: Humanitarian Debate

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim in the General Assembly Humanitarian Debate, 06 December 2022.

We are entering another year of rising humanitarian needs. With more than 330 million people estimated to need humanitarian assistance and protection in the year to come.

We must do our utmost to strengthen humanitarian assistance and protection. We are particularly concerned about the increasing level of food insecurity worldwide.

From the Horn of Africa, to the Sahel, the Middle East, Asia and Latin-America - conflict, climate change, COVID and rising food and energy prices are driving the dramatic increase in global humanitarian needs. And Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has caused a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with global implications.

The magnitude of these crises requires us to mobilise and reinforce humanitarian action. And to do so in a way that puts people affected by crises at the centre. In this, I would like to highlight five issues of particular importance for Norway:

First, civilians must be protected.

The protection of civilians – including protection of children – has been a defining aspect of Norway’s term as an elected member of the UN Security Council. But it will not end there. In June next year, we will host a conference on the protection of children during armed conflict.

Children are made particularly vulnerable by conflict. Yet, we know that attending school substantially reduces the risk of a wide range of threats. Therefore, it is vital to uphold the right to education, even in emergencies. And schools must be safe from attacks and military use. We call on all States to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration.

Second, we must work smarter and better.

Developing innovative solutions will be key to close the growing gap between humanitarian needs and resources. It will also improve humanitarian responses, and ultimately ensure better protection for people affected by conflict.

Ensuring efficiency in humanitarian response is also a continuous challenge. Considerable progress has been made in recent years. And Norway remains committed to providing quality funding, and supporting cash responses in humanitarian action. Still, we need to reinforce local humanitarian action and ensure better accountability to affected populations.

Norway will continue to push for reforms that put the needs of people affected by conflict and crisis at the centre.

Third, we need to ensure closer collaboration between humanitarian efforts, long-term development assistance, and peacebuilding. Complementarity must replace competition. 

Fourth, climate change adaptation and prevention must be closer connected to humanitarian action. Norway supports efforts to promote preparedness and disaster risk reduction.

We also need more finance for climate-robust food production. Norway just launched a new strategy on food security. With the main objective of contributing to climate robust food production – including by smallholders, and the development of local value chains and markets. 

President, last, but not least, we need to act ahead of humanitarian crises.

Improved data, and new technology now increasingly allow us to anticipate disasters and crises before they evolve. Anticipatory action saves lives. And it is more effective and cost-efficient.

We therefore must ensure better coordination and more efficient modalities to act ahead of the curve. We need to make anticipatory action the preferred option.