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2016 Session,
30th Meeting (PM)
ECOSOC/6775

Amid Unprecedented Displacement, Ending Silos, Funding Shortages Key to Reducing Suffering of Millions, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council

With 130 million people around the world requiring aid and an unprecedented 65 million displaced, the United Nations must work more effectively and cohesively with a range of partners to alleviate the suffering of those trapped in humanitarian emergencies, speakers stressed today as the Economic and Social Council opened its three-day humanitarian affairs segment.

The segment, held under the theme “Restoring Humanity and Leaving No One Behind:  Working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability”, takes place on the heels of the World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May, where Governments, civil society, business and others had pledged to improve aid delivery.

In opening remarks, Council Vice-President Jürg Lauber (Switzerland) said that, in 2015, 41 million people had been internally displaced by armed conflict and violence, while a year ago the number of refugees had reached 20.2 million people, the highest since 1992.  Civilians were being denied food, water and medical attention — prerequisites of humanity — and consent to relief operations had been arbitrarily withheld.

“We must aim to significantly reduce need, risk and vulnerability over time,” stressed Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  The humanitarian community must work with more actors in that context.  Silos must be broken down and greater investment garnered for local leadership and first responders.  The correct financial architecture was also important to direct more funding to local actors.  “This is not a zero-sum game,” he said.  “The Summit was only a first step.  We must continue the momentum.”

Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Secretary-General had committed to a new way of working based on achieving collective outcomes over longer timelines.  The aim was to reduce risk and vulnerability over time and to maximize the benefits of United Nations actions.  The Agenda for Humanity, presented at the Summit, recognized that bringing together the political, human rights, humanitarian and development strands of the United Nations could help reduce — even eliminate — those needs.

He urged stakeholders to implement their commitments, develop alliances and engage for the long term.  “We must act with urgency, tenacity and solidarity,” he said, to deliver the changes proposed at the Summit.

In the ensuing general debate, speakers decried that forced displacement had reached levels not seen since the Second World War.  Funding shortages and fragmented approaches must be addressed.  The unprecedented suffering required concerted attention and action across all sectors.  While the World Humanitarian Summit had drawn attention to the need for a more efficient, inclusive and accountable system, momentum must be maintained.

In that context, the representative of Thailand, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said all actions must be carried out in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.  He cautioned against lessening the importance of the sequence of efforts from relief to development.  Relief, recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and longer-term development were all means to an end and their complementarity should be underscored.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union, stressed that decisive political action to address and prevent conflict was needed more urgently than ever.  The European Union would implement a new development-oriented framework to address forced displacement and step up efforts to strengthen partnerships.

Lebanon’s representative said that, with 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees and more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees, his country stood as an example of the difficulties and threats to existence that a host country could face.  His Government prioritized solidarity and responsibility sharing as a driving principle for action in humanitarian situations.

Haiti’s representative said her country was ready to share what it had learned as a recipient of humanitarian aid.  She advocated wide-ranging discussions with a focus on the most vulnerable, underscoring the need for ownership, partnership and local capacity-building in that context, as well as for strengthening and decentralizing financing.

The Director-General for Multilateral Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey made opening remarks.

Also delivering statements today were ministers and representatives of Australia (also for Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Turkey), Italy, Sweden, Japan, Turkey, Finland, Pakistan, Switzerland, India, Liechtenstein, South Africa, Morocco, Norway, United States, Maldives and Bangladesh.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 28 June, to continue its humanitarian affairs segment.

Opening remarks

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said in the coming days, delegates would have the opportunity to discuss ideas from the World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May, aimed at finding solutions to reduce the world’s staggering humanitarian need.  Indeed, a record 130 million people needed international humanitarian assistance and forced displacement had reached unprecedented levels.  At the end of 2015, those internally displaced by armed conflict and violence had hit almost 41 million, while a year ago the global refugee population had reached 20.2 million people, the highest since 1992.

Also, in the past year, he said, the El Niño climatic phenomenon had had severe humanitarian impacts across Africa, Central and South America and the Pacific.  Sexual and gender-based violence had driven forced displacement, while rape continued to be used as an abhorrent tool of war.  Civilians were being denied food, water and medical attention — prerequisites of humanity and a core obligation of State and non-State actors.  Consent to relief operations had been arbitrarily withheld.  “It is critical that we move forward on these issues,” he said.

JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said upholding compassion and human dignity was among the greatest challenges of our time.  While record numbers of people required humanitarian assistance and protection, there was a tangible sense of fatigue — even resignation — as seen in funding shortfalls for humanitarian appeals.  At the Summit, the Secretary-General had presented his Agenda for Humanity, recognizing that bringing together the political, human rights, humanitarian and development strands of the United Nations work would allow for reducing — even eliminating — those needs.

At the Summit, he said, Governments for the first time in 70 years had sat with people affected by crisis, development organizations, civil society leaders and the business community to discuss solutions to shared challenges.  One hundred and eighty States had participated and 3,000 commitments generated.  There had been recognition that most humanitarian crises required political, not humanitarian solutions.  And yet, despite being more relevant than ever, international humanitarian law was being disrespected.  There had been few commitments on preventing and ending conflict.

Nonetheless, the Summit had consolidated shifts in humanitarian action within the broader peacekeeping and development contexts, he said.  The Secretary-General had committed to a new way of working, based on achieving collective outcomes over longer timelines.  The plan aimed to reduce risk and vulnerability over time, and to maximize the benefits of United Nations actions.

Participants had recognized the need to reinforce the role of local and national actors, he said.  “That is, in the end, where accountability comes in.” The Summit also had generated new partnerships.  Multilateral development banks had increased investments in fragile States, while donors had met with urban leaders to fund local solutions.  International and non-governmental organizations in the South had agreed on a charter to enhance the social response, partnerships that had transcended traditional divides.

Major steps also had been taken to support the most vulnerable, he said, especially women and girls.  The Summit also had marked a shift in “the way we think and act” around financing, recognizing the need to move away from short-term to long-term financing and investment.

Going forward, he urged all actors to implement commitments, develop alliances and turn pledges of support into action, noting that a compendium of the commitments made at the Summit would be available in the coming months through a web-based platform, allowing for self-reporting.   Participants should engage for the long-term and champion the five core commitments, as limited improvements would not be sufficient for the scale of change needed.

Further, he said, stakeholders must break out of silos and use every chance to work together for change.  Progress also had to be measured and an annual report would address gaps in advancing the Agenda.  Since the Summit, thousands of people had been killed in conflict, tens of thousands had been forced from their homes and thousands of farmers had given up hope of making a living on land impacted by natural and man-made disasters.  “We must act with urgency, tenacity and solidarity,” he said, to deliver the changes proposed at the Summit.

HASAN ULUSOY, Director-General for Multilateral Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said his country was privileged to have hosted the Summit in Istanbul, where participation had exceeded expectations.  The current humanitarian situation could no longer respond to today’s humanitarian crises, he said, noting the millions of refugees hosted by Turkey.  The Summit should not be considered a one-time event, but rather seen as the start of a process.  Hopefully, the single-sentence reference to the Summit in the draft resolution to be adopted by the Council would reflect Member States’ strong commitment to pursue that process.  It was high time for a better and more sustainable humanitarian system so that the suffering of millions could be addressed in a holistic way, at the same time as addressing the root causes and drivers of their situations.

STEPHEN O’BRIEN, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, introducing the Secretary-General’s report on “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/71/82-E/2016/60), said the Summit had been a momentous occasion, putting people at the centre of all decisions.  The current Economic and Social Council humanitarian segment was all the more important in 2016, given that more people than ever before depended on assistance to survive.  “We must seize the moment,” he said, stressing that more than 130 million people required humanitarian aid and an unprecedented 65 million had been displaced.  More must be done to reduce those numbers with solutions that required a longer-term approach.

In many areas, however, humanitarian workers were unable to reach those most in need, he said.  Humanitarian agencies, Governments, civil society and the private sector had continued to help and improve the efficiency of existing efforts.  Appeal requirements had nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years to almost $20 billion.  “We must aim to significantly reduce need, risk and vulnerability over time,” he said.  Noting tremendous progress in commitments to address those and related issues, he said the Summit had built on those gains and the current segment must advance them.

Outlining current ongoing challenges, he said the use of explosive weapons in populated areas had continued to kill health-care workers and civilians and displaced many others.  “Tens of millions of people were looking to us,” he said.  Emphasizing that parties to conflict must respect international law, he said the complex challenges were not insurmountable.  Other pressing issues including forced displacement, posing development and political challenges.  Finding lasting solutions to displacement was essential, he said.  The humanitarian community needed to work with more actors on efforts to reduce risk and vulnerability.  Silos must be broken down and greater investment was needed in local leadership and first responders to crises.  The correct financial architecture was also required to reinforce progress, directing more funding to local actors.  “This is not a zero-sum game,” he said.  “The Summit was only a first step.  We must continue the momentum.”

Statements

CHULAMANEE CHARTSUWAN (Thailand), on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and global health threats deserved the same attention as those arising from conflict.  With regard to protracted crises, States must fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect and assist civilians in occupied territories, he said, calling for further action by the United Nations system and international communities to provide help to those civilians.  Increased and predictable humanitarian financing through innovative and diversified means would help developing countries enhance their capacities and mobilize their own resources.  International cooperation, technical and financial support, while indispensable, must be channelled in a way that strengthened the ability of local and national Governments to respond promptly and more effectively.

He stated that all actions must be carried out in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, with respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty remaining the guiding principle in all efforts.  “The primary responsibility of the State to initiate, organize, coordinate and implement humanitarian assistance within its territory should be borne in mind and respected,” he said.  He went on to express concern about a recent trend to lessen the importance of the sequence and transition of distinct phases of efforts from relief to development.  That was misleading and harmful.  Relief, recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction and longer-term development were all means to an end and their complementary should be underscored.  The humanitarian-development divide needed to be narrowed, and silos brought down, but that did not mean blurring the line between mandates and priorities.

LILIANNE PLOUMEN, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc saw the Summit has a unique opportunity to make the current system more effective, efficient, inclusive and accountable.  Going forward, there should be concrete and meaningful progress on each of the five core responsibilities to capitalize on the momentum that had been created in Istanbul.  The European Union remained committed to humanitarian principles.  Decisive political action to address and prevent conflict was needed more urgently than ever before.  The European Union would continue to advocate for respect for international humanitarian law, she said, calling for an effort to ensure compliance with those norms.  No one must be left behind and in that regard the bloc would implement a new development-oriented framework to address forced displacement.  It would also step up efforts to strengthen partnerships to better assist those in need, she said, urging all signatories of the Grand Bargain on humanitarian financing to ensure sufficient and efficient funding.  The Summit must be a starting point to turn the Agenda for Humanity into a reality.

STEVE SCOTT (Australia), speaking also for Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and the Republic of Korea, known as the “MIKTA” countries, said the unprecedented scale of humanitarian suffering required concerted attention and efforts that worked across sectors.  Meeting on the margins of the Summit, MIKTA representatives had announced joint commitments and were currently building a concerted programme of action to maintain momentum and ensure the success of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico in 2017.  There was a strong need to build on the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Summit, he said, underlining that humanitarian issues required a shared responsibility and common ownership.  In that vein, MIKTA countries were ready and determined to cooperate to ensure their unwavering, collective commitment to leave no one behind.

PAOLO GENTILONI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said efforts were being made to serve the needs of people in complex emergencies worldwide and national initiatives aimed at improving cooperation between development and humanitarian tools in West Africa and countries affected by the Syrian conflict.  Promoting the endorsement and promotion of international humanitarian principles, Italy would double its contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  A humanitarian approach was also needed to address the urgency of saving lives in the Mediterranean, he said, noting Italy’s support of the search-and-rescue operations, which had saved many lives.  A shift in the cultural approach to migration was required and investing in the integration of migrants was pivotal, he said, highlighting the civil society involvement in the humanitarian corridor project.  Meanwhile, root causes must be addressed.  The migration compact that the European Union had proposed aimed at creating a conducive environment for enhanced cooperation on migratory issues.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said that as humanitarian needs had increased, new actors were stepping up their contributions and Governments were taking national ownership and employing forceful leadership in countries affected by natural disasters.  Working with local partners was a starting point for regional cooperation with Pacific countries to address the silent humanitarian crisis of climate change.  Local actors were always the first on the scene and remained long after the media spotlight had left.  Sweden was one of the largest donors to the United Nations Country-based Pooled Funds, which had channelled more than $85 million to local responders in 2015.  That field-level partnership must be replicated at the global level, in policy and practice.  The root causes of conflict and strife must also be addressed and more investments were needed in conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.  More must be done to stop ongoing conflicts, with Member States strengthening their partnership in the Security Council and the General Assembly.  “We need to do better and do more,” she said, urging donors to step up and for States to summon the required political will and strengthen partnership at all levels.

Mr. SCOTT (Australia), looking forward to upcoming summits on refugees and migration, said that addressing the root causes of displacement — conflict and lack of opportunity — was the only path to success.  The Summit had driven consensus on the need to put affected communities at the centre of humanitarian action and showed that an entire ecosystem was needed to address humanitarian crises.  “The current humanitarian system is not fit for purpose in a changed world,” he said.  “The system needs to reshape itself to take a truly people-centred approach.”  Such technologies as mobile money, biometric scanning, mobile communications and crowd-sourcing called for delivery agencies to either adapt or make way for alternative providers.  The private sector was an essential but often underutilized partner in humanitarian action, he said, adding that Fiji’s response to Cyclone Winston showed what a competent Government — supported by regional partners, local actors and the private sector — could achieve.

HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan) attached great importance to strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus.  As poverty and disparity were often the root causes of humanitarian crises, capacity-building through education and vocational training was crucial.  The international community must adequately support host communities as they could quickly reach their respective limits in addressing humanitarian crisis.  Japan had co-hosted a side-event in Istanbul with the Solutions Alliance, introducing good practices of productive collaboration between humanitarian and development sectors.  A joint statement, delivered during that event, summarized key points for success, such as ensuring meaningful participation of the most affected, including forced displacement issues in development plans, and developing a common vision through joint analysis.  The best way to follow up the Summit would be by maximizing the use of existing fora rather than creating a new mechanism.

Mr. BARAR (Turkey), drawing attention to the contemporary humanitarian crises, expressed concern about the ever-growing dichotomy between increasing needs on unprecedented levels and limited available resources in financing.  However, he said “the determination of Member States and other stakeholders put forward at the Istanbul Summit gives us hope for the future of humanity”.  Regarding the conflict in Syria, it was a collective responsibility to act to address its immediate consequences and underlying causes.  Since 2011, Turkey had maintained an open-door policy for Syrians fleeing from violence and had provided them with food, health care and education services.  Based on an agreement with the European Union, Turkey contributed to efforts to stem irregular crossings in the Aegean Sea, with a view to curbing irregular migration and creating legal migration routes.  In order to address humanitarian crises, the Government had increased its official development assistance (ODA) to $3.91 billion in 2015.

KAI JÜRGEN MIKAEL SAUER (Finland) said his country was committed to saving lives and reducing suffering through principled and needs-based humanitarian aid.  A major outcome of the Summit was the Charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities into Humanitarian Action, endorsed by 150 stakeholders.  Finland was committed to supporting the development of the Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, calling on all stakeholders to endorse and implement the document.  His Government was committed to the Grand Bargain between donors and humanitarian organizations, he said, noting it had already implemented many of its key aspects and provided 30 per cent of its humanitarian financing as un-earmarked core funding.  The international system was still geared towards responding to humanitarian need, rather than preventing it from arising.  His Government was committed to promoting a shift from delivering aid to ending need.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the global humanitarian landscape had changed dramatically in recent years, and a record 130 million people needed humanitarian assistance.  With armed conflicts raging in many regions and the ever-increasing frequency of natural disasters, the number of forcibly displaced people had reached 65 million.  Despite the increase in financial assistance, humanitarian financing was coming under increasingly severe strain; the funding gap had increased to $10 billion a year.  Pakistan had actively participated in all the Istanbul Summit’s major segments and activities.  Looking ahead, the forthcoming summit on large-scale movements of refugees and migrants would be an opportunity to sustain that momentum and it would enable the international community to effectively address humanitarian challenges.  Among other things, it would provide a platform to make an unequivocal pronouncement against all forms of xenophobia.

MANUEL BESSLER (Switzerland) urged a review of the commitments made in Istanbul and integrating them into existing processes, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Management.  He wished to avoid making the Summit a perennial discussion.  For its part, Switzerland would implement all commitments taken in Istanbul, placing people at the centre of its actions.  It would continue work to improve respect for international humanitarian law and protection of civilians in armed conflict.  It had committed to review its financing modalities, he said, noting that, by 2020 it would increase un-earmarked contributions to 30 per cent of its budget, and would devote one sixth of its humanitarian budget to disaster risk reduction.  He urged a review of the strengths and weaknesses of humanitarian action, expressing regret that progress had not been made on humanitarian access.  Collective responsibility was at stake.  He urged collective work on the Agenda for Humanity.

RATTAN LAL KATARIA (India) attached great importance to building national and local capacity to manage disasters, with a plan aimed at preventing, mitigating and managing them.  The Government had offered relief and reconstruction assistance to its partners, notably Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan, as well as others further afield.  While adequate funding for emergency response was a challenge, emphasis on longer-term planning to build resilience was also needed.  Respect for national priorities must be paramount in implementing humanitarian assistance activities.  Also, there had been a blurring of categories of those impacted by crises, such as refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, which were distinct categories.  International frameworks were also distinct, especially refugees and migrants, groups which required cooperation given the implications of their cross-border mobility.  Humanitarian crises were growing unmanageable where development levels were lower.  It was in everyone’s interest to focus on financing for long-term development.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), associating with the Group of 77, said global humanitarian needs had quadrupled the number of aid appeals, which now totalled $19.9 billion.  The response had not kept a pace with requests.  The Summit had offered a balanced framework for renewing a vision for the global humanitarian system, which was vital for United Nations specialized agencies and their partners.  The commitments made offered a “new, decisive step” towards overcoming major humanitarian challenges and allowed for rolling out solutions.  All exchanges must be practical in nature and improve the humanitarian response in line with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.  Haiti was ready to share what it had learned as a recipient and supported wide‑ranging discussions with a focus on the most vulnerable, including women and migrants, among others.  She underscored the need for ownership, partnership and local capacity-building in that context, as well as for strengthening and decentralizing financing.  Fifteen per cent of the funds received through appeals should be set aside for a common financing pool that could be set up in countries in need.  A risk management index could foster better planning for humanitarian aid delivery.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the Summit may not have lived up to all expectations, but it did set into motion several important initiatives, such as the Grand Bargain that aimed to ensure sufficient funding for humanitarian assistance.  Investing in humanity for Liechtenstein was not just a matter of solidary, but also a matter of enlightened self-interest.  Lack of compliance with the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols had reached unprecedented and alarming levels, he said, regretting that the Council’s resolution did not call on conflict parties to refrain from using explosive weapons with wide-area effect in populated areas.  He went on to call for implementation of a code of conduct for Security Council action to end or prevent atrocities, saying that appeals for more decisive action by that body to end such crimes in Syria and elsewhere had had little result, undermining the standing of the United Nations.

NTHUTANG MARTIN SELEKA (South Africa), associating himself with the statement of the Group of 77, said the key to an effective transition from relief to early recovery and development was for the United Nations system to enable systematic and predictable planning and coordination support.  Expressing concern that priority had not been given to transforming international humanitarian aid, he said the promise of swifter, more appropriate and accountable humanitarian aid must be kept.  A collective effort was needed to put humanitarian affairs at the same level as peace and security, human rights and development.  South Africa was committed to realize the five core principles that underlined the Agenda for Humanity, and it supported calls to focus less on crisis management and response and more on crisis prevention and ensuring community resilience.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that many consecutive crises had continued to affect an unprecedented number of people.  Strengthening preventive measures and preparedness were among some effective responses to displacement and recent gatherings, including the Summit, had provided further insight on the issues.  Indeed, the international community had the tools to better respond to crises worldwide.  However, the world must not let its guard down, he said, urging the harmonization of the many initiatives that had been adopted recently.  The Summit was a historic moment, but it was a victim of its own success, with a wide number of initiatives being launched by groups of States, rather than all States.  Leaving no one behind was an important overarching theme required to address the broad challenges at hand.  While the number of appeals had continued to rise, there had been a $10 billion shortfall in 2015.  Noting that humanitarian aid efficiency was also built around access, he said all efforts must be made to ensure those who delivered assistance could reach people in need.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said that despite the alarming landscape of humanitarian need and suffering, recent positive developments had indicated that the world had awakened to the need to restore its common humanity, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development being a cornerstone in that regard.  The Summit was another opportunity for all stakeholders to gather around the Agenda for Humanity and the necessity to work at the global level to prevent and end conflicts, build peaceful societies and uphold norms safeguarding humanity.  “We need now to tune up our tools and move to concrete results to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability,” he said.  Lebanon had prioritized solidarity and responsibility-sharing as a fundamental driving principle for action in humanitarian situations.  Other priorities included development assistance for those affected by humanitarian situations and the safe return of displaced persons.

With 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees and more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees, he said, Lebanon stood as a living example of the challenges, difficulties and threats to its very existence that a host country could face as a result of mass displacement.  Lebanon’s plight in response to those crises was also an experience to reflect on in restoring humanity and leaving no one behind.  As such, the mass influx of Syrian refugees had overstretched Lebanon’s infrastructure in many sectors, reducing housing capacity, increasing unemployment and affecting economic activity and investment in climate, threatening its security.  The Government’s Lebanon Crisis Response Plan was still not fully funded, falling short by more than 60 per cent of the required amount.  The success of that vision now depended on how international partners responded to it and supported Lebanon to uphold the central pillars of providing humanitarian assistance, education for all children and the expansion of economic opportunities and jobs.

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway), noting that 65.3 million people had fled their homes in 2015, said conflict and protracted crises had driven humanitarian needs.  A priority for her country was to reduce the future need for humanitarian assistance by addressing its root causes, notably by addressing fragility and investing more in reducing conflict.  The United Nations must improve its conflict-prevention work.  More and better support was needed for education in emergencies.  Norway was committed to allocating 8 per cent of its humanitarian budget to support education, she said, stressing the need to ensure protection of civilians.  She welcomed that the Safe Schools Declaration had been endorsed by 54 countries.  The use of explosive weapons with wide effects in populated areas was a cause of displacement and she urged respect for international humanitarian law in that context.  Increased and more effective assistance was needed to address protracted crises.  Norway had increased its humanitarian budget by more than 30 per cent over 2015, she said, stressing that it was committed to providing high levels of aid and quality funding, especially flexible, un-earmarked and multi-year funding, to promote better links between humanitarian assistance and development.

SARAH MENDELSON (United States) said 2016 had been a year of resolve to enhance the international capacity for responding to humanitarian emergencies, as well as of recognition that the scope of challenges required new approaches.  She welcomed that 74 nations and the European Union had joined the United States in issuing a statement of political commitment to the Secretary-General’s “One Humanity” goals, including for doing work differently.  Going forward, she urged prioritizing the protection of civilians.  The Grand Bargain should be advanced through a joint needs analysis and prioritized humanitarian appeals; more coherent programming between humanitarian and development assistance; improved field leadership and more accountability.  She also supported reduced management costs, multi-year planning, and where possible, reduced earmarking.  The upcoming high-level General Assembly plenary meeting on 19 September should affirm the principles of responsibility-sharing and international cooperation.  It should enhance international cooperation on migration and build on commitments made at the Summit.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said natural disasters were striking at a faster pace and that protracted crises had become the new norm.  Collective action and determination at the highest political level was essential to change the course.  In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Maldives suffered immense environmental destruction, in addition to colossal socioeconomic damage.  The recurrence of such a disaster remained an existential threat and prompted the Government to place a high priority on mainstreaming environmental sustainability and protection in the national development planning process.  Building resilience was a long-term development strategy, he said, adding that humanitarian assistance should align with the 2030 Agenda.  He called on Member States and stakeholders to help vulnerable communities to strengthen their ability to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks and reshape development in order to reduce climate risks.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said efforts must be strengthened to permit the delivery of concrete results on the ground.  Challenges, including population growth, the food crisis and climate consequences, had led to initiatives that had been centred on preparedness.  International humanitarian assistance must continue to follow principles set out by the General Assembly, he said, emphasizing that poverty was a root cause of a number of challenges.  More broadly, the United Nations and international community must work more closely and in a more coordinated manner to be able to deliver results.  Among ways to move forward, he said technology-sharing must help to boost disaster preparedness in countries in need.  Bangladesh had taken a number of steps to help its population and others in the face of natural disasters, including in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, when experts and personnel had been sent to provide assistance.  He expressed confidence that the resolution to be adopted at the end of the Economic and Social Council humanitarian segment would only strengthen existing and future initiatives.

For information media. Not an official record.