ECOSOC: Humanitarian affairs segment

Statement by Deputy Director General on UN Policy Kåre Stormark at the ECOSOC Humanitarian affairs segment, 25 June 2019.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The humanitarian landscape is changing. Armed conflict, climate change and persistent poverty create complex and protracted crises. The gap between needs and resources is steadily increasing.

We, the international community, have a collective responsibility to do more to help and support those in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

Let me highlight a few key areas in how Norway responds through our new humanitarian strategy:

Firstly, we take an integrated approach with a view to preventing humanitarian crises and reducing humanitarian needs over time. This requires close coordination between humanitarian action, development cooperation and peacebuilding.

Norway will contribute across the nexus by providing more predictable, flexible and multi-year humanitarian financing.

Refugee situations last on average for decades. Many host states will benefit from early engagement by development actors to increase the resilience of refugees and host communities alike. The Global Compact on Refugees is the embodiment of this strategy and its implementation must be a priority.

We need better strategies to address and reduce the record-high level of internal displacement. Norway and 56 other countries have urged the UN Secretary General to establish a high-level panel on internal displacement in order to address this crucial issue.

Secondly, Norway will contribute to closing the gap between the increasing humanitarian needs and the resources available to meet them.

We give priority to innovation and new working methods, including increased use of cash, that can enable us to get more out of existing resources with better results for people affected by conflict and crisis.

Thirdly, and most importantly, more should be done, both politically and operationally, to protect people affected by humanitarian crises.                                             

We must promote compliance with international humanitarian law, and strengthen protection in the operational response to mitigate the impact on affected populations.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. In December, the 33rd international Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference will take place. We urge states to take this opportunity to reconfirm our common commitment to protecting civilians and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances.  

Education in emergencies continues to be a priority. One key initiative is the Safe Schools Declaration, launched in Oslo in 2015, and endorsed by 91 states so far. We commend the Government of Spain for hosting the recent third International Conference on Safe Schools. As co-host we were encouraged by the positive response to joint efforts to implement the declaration.

Over the last few years, we have seen a regrettable increase in the use of improvised landmines and in the number of civilian casualties. Norway holds the Presidency of the Mine Ban Convention, an important tool for protecting civilians. Our ambition is that The Oslo Action Plan to be adopted in November, will give a strong push to make as many countries as possible mine-free by 2025.

Norway will also give increased priority to protection of children and young people who are particularly at risk in humanitarian crises, as demonstrated in our side-event on children and armed conflict yesterday.

The international conference “Ending sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises” was hosted by Norway in May– together with Iraq, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, OCHA, UNFPA and ICRC and with broad participation from local, regional and global actors alike.

The conference concluded that strengthening SGBV prevention and response is a humanitarian priority. It gave visibility and recognition to the key role of national and local organizations, including local women’s organizations.

Finally, the ECOSOC humanitarian resolution is an important guiding document.  We are pleased to see strengthened language on a number of issues, including education. Regrettably, we were not able to reach consensus on a reference to the Safe School Declaration and key areas that would better reflect today’s realities and further strengthen compliance with IHL. We are also concerned that women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health continues to be challenged.

It is difficult to make constructive progress each year with this resolution and we question the added value of the negotiation process. Based on this we call on member states to consider making the ECOSOC resolution biennial.

All humanitarian efforts must be firmly based on international humanitarian law, humanitarian principles and a gender perspective. Norway will continue to be an active and consistent advocate of this.

Thank you.