ECOSOC: Humanitarian Affairs

Statement Humanitarian Affairs Segment at ECOSOC by H.E. Ms. May-Elin Stener, 27 June 2016.

Vice-President, Deputy Secretary-General, Excellences,

The humanitarian system is under tremendous pressure. Figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council on the World Refugee Day last week shows that a staggering 65.3 million people fled their homes in 2015.

The gap between the global humanitarian needs and the resources to meet them is widening at an alarming rate. The global humanitarian appeal for 2016 is record high but only about 20% of the needs have been met this far.

Conflict and protracted crisis have become very significant drivers of humanitarian needs, as well as a significant obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The World Humanitarian Summit succeeded in putting many of the most pressing challenges on the global radar. We must build on this momentum.

Norway supports the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity and the Core Commitments underpinning his vision to better serve the people in need. We also presented a number of individual commitments in Istanbul.

We give particular priority to the following:

First, reducing the future need for humanitarian assistance by addressing the root causes. We must do more to address fragility and to invest more in prevention to reduce conflict. Norway will continue to be a staunch supporter of the development of the UN’s capacity to prevent conflict.

We need to develop a new framework of cooperation to address the large population movements a result of forced displacement. The cooperation must be based on equitable responsibility sharing and predictable migration management. We must find durable solution for more people.

Second, more and better support to education in emergencies and protracted crisis. Today, 37 million children and young people are out of school due to the increasing magnitude of conflicts and crisis. Norway is committed to allocating more than 8% of our humanitarian budget to support education. A process pushed forward by the Oslo Summit on Education for development last summer has led to the launch of the Education Cannot Wait fund in Istanbul. Norway pledged 10 million USD in support for the first year.

Third, ensuring the protection of civilians is more important than ever. Safe Schools and protection of heath care are our main priorities. We are pleased that 54 states now have endorsed the Safe Schools declaration that was announced last year in Oslo and we encourage others to do the same. We recognize that the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is a major cause of displacement.

Related to this, strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law is a critical issue for Norway. The importance of the humanitarian principles, essential to providing access to affected populations and protection for aid workers, was reiterated by Norway and others during the World Humanitarian Summit.

Fourth, increased and more efficient humanitarian assistance is necessary to address protracted crisis. This year, Norway increased its humanitarian budget by more than 30 per cent compared to 2015. We have also significantly increased our support for the Syrian refugee crisis, including through a 4-year pledge of 10 billion NOK.

One important outcome of the Word Humanitarian Summit was the strong recognition of the need to work differently in protracted crisis, and in particular of the need for stronger links between humanitarian assistance and long-term development efforts to deliver on the Agenda 2030’s commitment to leaving no one behind. Our success will be measured on how we meet the needs of the most vulnerable – the children, people with disabilities, women and girls. 

We were particularly encouraged by the active engagement of the multilateral development banks in Istanbul and their recognition of the need to engage earlier, take risks and explore innovative and more flexible financing mechanisms.

Closing the humanitarian funding gap will require collective commitments and actions. Norway welcomes the Grand Bargain between donors and aid organizations to strengthen humanitarian action through efficiencies and innovation. We are committed to be a strong advocate for inclusive and accountable follow up.

We remain committed not only to provide high levels of humanitarian aid, but also to provide quality funding. This mean that we will continue to provide flexible, un-earmarked and multiyear funding, when appropriate, to ensure more effective response and better linkages between humanitarian assistance and long-term-development.

We remain committed to provide substantial support to the UN Central Emergency Fund (CERF) to enable effective and timely responses to humanitarian crises.  We are also strong supporters of the UN Country Based Humanitarian Pooled Funds, which play a key role in supporting national and local front line responders. We support the Secretary-General’s call for more efforts to broaden and deepen the donor base, including through innovative partnerships with private sector and civil society.

The World Humanitarian Summit highlighted the potential for more innovation in humanitarian assistance. We support efforts to increase the use and coordination of cash based programming.

We look forward to a discussion on how these and many of the innovative ideas and commitments from Istanbul will be followed up and turned into concrete action. The Secretary-General’s report on the follow up to the World Humanitarian Summit will be important in this regard. We also see the UN High Level Plenary on Refugees and Migrants in September as an important opportunity to take forward key issues from Istanbul.

It will be important to continue to build strong global ownership around the commitments and actions needed to better respond to the unprecedented humanitarian needs and prevent future crises from happening.

Thank you.