Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations

23 June 2017

ICRC statement given by Hugo Slim at the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Thank you, Chair.

This year's Draft Resolution makes a powerful read. The breadth and depth of States' concern for people affected by armed conflict and disaster shows the field of humanitarian action reaching a new level of sophistication and ambition.

Three things stand out.

First, States' appreciation of the different needs of different people: women, men, girls and boys who variously face crises as civilians, refugees, migrants, IDPs and people with disabilities, and who may be hungry, sick, wounded, thirsty, homeless, poor, uneducated and marginalized but still remain the active subjects of their lives and entitled to life with dignity.

Secondly, the broad scope of different activities that constitute effective humanitarian action now clearly span the economic, social and environmental needs of human beings, and require an appropriate depth of engagement by national authorities, local communities and humanitarian actors in close cooperation with affected people and development actors.

Thirdly, the clear commitment to international law and humanitarian principles is the fundamental frame that sets out the obligations of States and guides the practice of humanitarian response.

In their concern for difference, depth, and adherence to international law, States are rightly raising the bar for effective humanitarian action and giving new emphasis to inclusion, connectivity and obligation in humanitarian action.

Inclusion is essential if the particular needs of all people affected by armed conflict are to be properly understood and met. People's needs, risks, vulnerabilities and capabilities are differently determined over time and dependent on their situation. The ICRC is interested to see an appreciation of intersectionality emerging in humanitarian practice as a careful way to understand differences in people's needs and avoid simplistic response.

The ICRC welcomes clear commitments on the involvement of national and local authorities, greater emphasis on the inclusion of people with disabilities, increased participation in programming decisions by people affected by armed conflict, and States' determination to support education services alongside health and economic needs.

Inclusion means access, and humanitarian access works in two ways: access by people in need to appropriate services, and access to people in need by humanitarian workers. Both forms of access must be safe.

Connectivity of response between relief and development resources is vital. Today's desperate food emergencies and cholera epidemics illustrate the imperative to support basic services in times of crisis.

Famine will only be prevented if people have safe access to land, agricultural inputs and markets, and sustained support to manage climate risk. Cholera will only be stopped if people have safe access to clean water and healthcare.

If services are left behind in armed conflicts, then people will be left behind.

Humanitarian action requires resilient development infrastructure in urban and rural areas alike.

The obligations of international law and the importance of humanitarian principles are rightly re-affirmed by States.

International humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights law set proper standards for inclusion, access and the provision of relief.

Humanitarian principles enable the fair assessment of needs and unbiased humanitarian response.

Thank you.

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