Statement at ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment


Mr President, Norway welcomes the recent progress in making humanitarian action more effective - through the focus on leadership, coordination and accountability.

We commend the increased focus on senior, skilled humanitarian leadership in the field, and recognize the active contribution from the agencies.

We recognize however, that more progress is needed in making the cluster system fit for purpose in conflict settings, including developing more effective and flexible coordination between structures for refugees and IDPs.

In the following I want to highlight three issues:

First: One of the most glaring humanitarian challenges we face today is limited access to affected populations. Millions of affected people in countries like Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan have limited access to the relief they so desperately need. We are faced with a situation where politicization of humanitarian action is an increasing impediment to delivering according to needs.

Access to affected people in complex settings and post disaster situations is mandated in international humanitarian law. According to resolution 46/182:

"States whose populations are in need of humanitarian assistance are called upon to facilitate … humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food, medicines, shelter and health care, for which access to victims is essential".

Access is not an option, all parties to conflict have an obligation to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief. Humanitarian actors must be impartial and act according to humanitarian principles, and their impartiality must be respected by governments and other actors.

Mr, President. Protection, including protection from sexual and gender-based violence, is another key component of humanitarian response. Sexual violence and rape is not only being used against civilians as tactic of war. In humanitarian settings, sexual and gender based violence increases.

We must make sure that efforts to reduce GBV be mainstreamed into all humanitarian planning and programming and ensure that victims have access to the services they need, including for sexual and reproductive health.

Second: The UN system has a particular role in disaster and conflict prone contexts. UN must ensure stronger links and coherence between long-term development and humanitarian action, to meet immediate needs and build resilience.

[Humanitarian and development agencies often work side by side in protracted and fragile contexts, often responding to complex emergencies with regional consequences. They must strengthen their relations with national and local actors, and ensure coordination through a common framework.]

[Agencies need to mainstream resilience into their programs, and regard the relationship between humanitarian efforts and development as more of a dynamic continuum rather than transition.]

Affected populations do not care about the silos we work in, or the different budget lines that apply in the humanitarian and development sectors. We as donors need to look closer at how to ensure more robust and flexible funding mechanisms, including for transition and disaster risk reduction. Increased efforts are need to take this issue forward.

Third: In March Norway hosted a conference to promote a facts-based understanding of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. The broad participation at the conference reflects the increasing concern that this is an issue of fundamental significance to us all.

A key conclusion from the conference is that it is un-likely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner. Moreover, it might not be possible to establish such capacities.

Together with Mexico and others we organized a lunch time event today on the impacts of a nuclear weapons detonation, and will continue to follow up on this important issue.

In conclusion, Norway will continue to support joint efforts to strengthen humanitarian values and principles and the humanitarian systems’ ability to deliver to those in need accordingly.

We look forward to an inclusive process leading up to the envisaged World Humanitarian Summit and would like to see that the Secretary General announces the Summit to the member states and underlining how it relates to other UN processes like the Post 2015 development agenda, the process on Sustainable Development Goals and the Post Hyogo framework.

Thank you.