General Assembly Adopts Resolutions Aimed at Fortifying Lagging Relief System, as World Faces Unprecedented Levels of Conflicts, Humanitarian Needs
Text Also Approved on International Year of Dialogue as Guarantee of Peace, 2023
Three decades since it created the United Nations humanitarian system, the General Assembly today adopted four resolutions to bolster a beleaguered relief apparatus struggling to help nearly 400 million people facing severe crises around the planet, as well as a text on the culture of peace.
In opening remarks, Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said a meeting on strengthening the coordination of emergency and humanitarian assistance of the United Nations could not come at a more fitting moment, as the world today is in a permanent state of humanitarian crisis. “We are breaking all the wrong records,” he said.
Referring to the Global Humanitarian Overview 2023 issued last week by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, he said the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945 and 399 million people, the highest number ever, need humanitarian assistance. “Statistics are the human beings with the tears wiped off,” he said, adding that this powerful image shows families, including children, the elderly and women, behind the statistics. “They are all of us.”
Underscoring 2022 as the thirty-first anniversary of Assembly resolution 46/182 (1991), he urged Member States to act on this session’s drafts to ensure a culture of transformational change. The Central Emergency Response Fund is one of the fastest ways to scale up and provide sustained relief operations, he added, when no other funding is available.
The Assembly then adopted the four humanitarian resolutions without a vote.
In adopting the 19-page resolution “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations”, the Assembly reaffirms the principles of its landmark resolution 46/182 of December 1991, encouraging the international community to support Member States’ efforts to prepare for disasters. The text also encourages the development of multi-hazard warning systems and recognition of the Central Emergency Response Fund’s achievements.
Aligning himself with the European Union, the representative of Sweden introduced the draft, which he said equips the humanitarian community with the necessary framework to deliver assistance. The text introduces important language on climate change, cash assistance, safety and security of humanitarian personnel, need to narrow the humanitarian funding gap and strengthen partnerships with international financial institutions. “We, as Member States of the United Nations, need to translate the words of the resolution into concrete action to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity across the globe.”
According to the resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development”, the Assembly recognizes the relationship between emergency response, rehabilitation and development, as well as the need to ensure a smooth transition between the three stages.
The delegate of Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced that draft, stressing the importance of assisting countries and people affected by natural disasters. Underlining the importance of early action to minimize the impact of natural disasters, the draft recognizes the special financial needs of countries facing compound risks caused by humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and climate change, he said.
By the terms of the resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people”, the Assembly underlines the importance of emergency and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip and the need to advance its reconstruction. The text calls on the international community to provide urgently needed assistance and services to ease the difficult humanitarian situation faced by Palestinian women, children and their families and help reconstruct and develop relevant Palestinian institutions.
Introducing the resolution, the representative of the Czech Republic, speaking for the European Union, expressed concern over the difficult humanitarian situation affecting Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the Gaza Strip. He called for full, unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza, noting that the European Union will keep contributing to Gaza’s development through investments in reforms, support to economic sectors and work in the water and energy sectors. The bloc expects that Israel will facilitate such efforts, he said.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said there is no effective humanitarian response without a political response, underscoring the importance of delivering international action and promoting peaceful settlement to end the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
By the terms of the fourth resolution, “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel”, the Assembly strongly condemned all acts of violence, attacks and threats against humanitarian, as well as United Nations and associated personnel. The text also calls upon States to explore and scale up measures for more systematic monitoring, reporting and investigation of attacks against humanitarian and medical personnel.
The Czech Republic’s delegate, who also introduced this draft, on behalf of the European Union, said instability, armed conflict and climate change have created the greatest need for humanitarian assistance in decades. As humanitarian personnel face high risks to meet these needs, the international community has the moral obligation to mitigate this risk.. He noted two worrying trends that emerged in 2022: disinformation campaigns that undermine trust in the United Nations and humanitarian organizations and put their personnel at risk; and the negative impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being faced by nationally and locally recruited personnel.
Delegates also emphasized the need for greater coordination, stronger frameworks and financing to meet the escalating humanitarian needs of the planet’s people.
“The system is under water,” said Switzerland’s delegate, noting that expanding humanitarian needs are overwhelming the system and that the current trajectory is unsustainable. The Assembly can help the United Nations system provide a more coordinated response with resolutions laying down the regulatory framework. A more proactive approach is needed to reduce the impact of certain shocks, such as climate change. “We are speaking of attitudes here,” she said. “It is urgent to change the entire mindset of humanitarian work.”
The representative of Brunei Darussalam, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that improving disaster management, risk and response capabilities is essential to build resilient communities and reach the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, ASEAN is expanding its practices on disaster risk reduction and management and emergency response. Speaking also on behalf of Sweden, India’s representative expressed commitment to preserving the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in responding to all humanitarian situations. She called the $51.5 billion needed to help 230 million of the world’s most vulnerable people, as cited in the Global Humanitarian Review 2023, a formidable challenge for the entire international community, but highlighted encouraging improvements in data collection and flexible instruments like the Central Emergency Response Fund and Country-Based Pool Funds.
The observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta said the United Nations is the last best hope to energize will and power to break through differences and put the needs of the sick, poor and marginalized at the centre. “If all of us expand our collective collaboration with UN aid agencies and related bodies, we can be on the right side of history and continue to earn the respect of those who are, tragically, on the wrong side of the economic divide,” he said.
The Assembly then turned to its agenda item on “Culture of Peace”, adopting without a vote the resolution “International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, 2023”. Introducing the resolution, the representative of Turkmenistan said it was a product of comprehensive consultations, reflecting the main principles of the United Nations Charter to settle disputes by peaceful means and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
Also speaking today were representatives of Maldives, Qatar, Iran, Belarus, Poland, Philippines, Egypt, China, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Australia, United States, Russian Federation, Norway, Thailand, Canada, Romania, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, Morocco, Chile, Kuwait, Sudan, France, Ukraine and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.
The representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also delivered a statement.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 December, to consider the reports of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 7 December, to consider the reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) and then take up the issue of cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said a meeting on strengthening the coordination of emergency and humanitarian assistance of the United Nations could not come at a more fitting moment, as the world today is in a permanent state of humanitarian crises. “We are breaking all the wrong records,” he said. The 2023 global humanitarian overview outlines this situation in stark terms, noting the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945 and 399 million people, the highest number ever, in need of humanitarian assistance. Pointing to world’s highest numbers of people at risk of hunger and forcibly displaced, he added that increases in gender-based violence and sexual harassment are especially alarming. “Statistics are the human beings with the tears wiped off,” he said, adding that this powerful image shows the families, including children, the elderly and women, behind the statistics. “They are all of us.”
The Assembly and Member States simply must do better, he said, as many people will be unable to survive the days ahead. “Every Member State must be distressed,” he added, referring to killings, kidnappings and arbitrary detainments. On this date, the thirty‑first anniversary of the resolution 46/182 (1991), which created the Organization’s humanitarian system, he urged the Assembly to act on this year’s drafts to strengthen its response. The draft resolutions are necessary to ensure a culture of transformational change. The Central Emergency Response Fund is one of the fastest ways to scale up and provide sustained relief operations, when no other funding is available, he said, adding that investment in the Fund embodies this spirit of transformation. All groups, including civil society and the private sector, must work together and develop innovative practices to improve coordination and recovery efforts.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
MAGNUS LENNARTSSON (Sweden), aligning himself with the European Union, introduced the draft resolution titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/77/L.30). Noting that his country has facilitated negotiations of the text since landmark General Assembly resolution 46/182 — which created the foundations of today’s United Nations humanitarian system — was adopted in 1991, he said the current draft equips the humanitarian community with the framework it needs to provide such assistance. The text introduces important language on climate change, cash assistance, safety and security of humanitarian personnel, the need to narrow the humanitarian funding gap and strengthen partnerships with international financial institutions, and accountability to affected populations. Encouraging consensus adoption, he said that “we, as Member States of the United Nations, must hold ourselves accountable by translating the words of the resolution into concrete action to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity across the globe.”
MOHAMMAD AAMIR KHAN (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution on “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/77/L.32) and stressed the importance of providing assistance to countries and people affected by natural disasters. The draft recognizes a relationship between emergency response, rehabilitation and development as well as the need to ensure a smooth transition between the three stages, he observed. Further, it emphasizes that emergency assistance must ensure long-term support to affected countries. This year, the text contains new paragraphs that aim to further strengthen humanitarian assistance, prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts to help minimize the loss of lives and damage caused by natural disasters. The draft encourages efforts to identify best practices to ensure humanitarian response and mitigate the humanitarian impact of natural disasters, he stressed, pointing to increased efforts to prevent famine, food insecurity and malnutrition related to natural disasters. It also incorporates mental health support services into disaster response and recovery. Underlining the importance of early action, with a view to minimizing the impact of natural disasters, the draft recognizes the special financial needs of countries facing compound risks caused by humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and climate change, he stressed.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), speaking for the European Union, next introduced the draft resolution titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/77/L.35). Pointing out that humanitarian needs continued to grow in 2022, he said that instability, armed conflict and climate change have created the greatest need for humanitarian assistance in decades. United Nations and humanitarian personnel are facing high risks to meet these needs, and the international community has the moral obligation to mitigate this risk as much as possible.
He went on to note that two worrying trends have emerged in 2022, the first being disinformation campaigns that undermine trust in the United Nations and humanitarian organizations and put their personnel at risk. The second is the negative impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being faced by nationally and locally recruited personnel. The resolution notes these concerns, he said, welcoming it as a consensual document reflecting a common commitment to humanitarian action. He stressed that those risking their lives to help others deserve the General Assembly’s support.
He then introduced the draft resolution titled “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/77/L.34), expressing concern over the difficult humanitarian situation affecting Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the Gaza Strip. The European Union deplores the continuing risk of demolition and seizure of Palestinian structures in the occupied West Bank, he said, calling on Israel to allow for a tangible improvement in the freedom of movement and living conditions for those living there. The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains a grave concern and, while welcoming the easing of some restrictions, he called for full, unimpeded humanitarian access.
The European Union will continue to contribute to Gaza’s development through investments in reforms, support to economic sectors and work in the water and energy sectors — and the bloc expects that Israel will facilitate such efforts, he said. Underscoring that a fundamental change of the situation in Gaza is necessary to ensure lasting results, he called on all parties to take urgent steps towards this end pursuant to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). He added that this includes an end to the closure policy, the full opening of crossing points and the provision of full humanitarian access, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
He next turned to the agenda item “Strengthening of international cooperation and coordination of efforts to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster”. He recalled that, 36 years ago, the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant — caused by the Soviet Union’s reckless policies regarding nuclear safety — spelled widespread consequences for Ukraine and other countries in the region. Europe was among the first to respond to that disaster and assist Ukraine, expending more than €1 billion (about $1 billion) in grants and loans to ensure safe containment of the No.4 reactor, effective radioactive-waste management and assistance to affected regions. The European Union will continue to focus its nuclear-safety-related assistance on the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where estimated damage caused by Russian troops — 83,939,963.76 including to a lab originally provided by the bloc — amounts to €80 million (about $83,923,487.9).
Recalling that the tragedy at Chernobyl triggered a strong response from the international community, he underscored a need for the same today to support Ukraine. He urged the consideration of new, legally binding international rules to prohibit armed attacks against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes, noting that nuclear safety in Ukraine is again in jeopardy due to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified war of aggression. He urged Moscow to immediately withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and return control thereof to the legitimate Ukrainian authorities in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independent and territorial integrity.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), commended efforts of the Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as well as all humanitarian workers. Her region is one of the most disaster-prone in the world, she said, noting that ASEAN is further strengthening its practices on disaster risk reduction and management and emergency response, including through the operationalization of ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management, which aims to mobilize greater resources and establish stronger coordination. Further, the first ASEAN Disaster Resilience Platform was convened in June 2022, she said, stressing the need for a holistic, cross-pillar and cross-sectoral approach.
Highlighting the bloc’s cooperation with partners and other stakeholders, she welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on the Strengthening of Community Resilience in Southeast Asia in May 2022. Noting the upcoming high-level meeting, in May 2023, of the Assembly on the midterm review of the implementation of the Sendai Framework, she emphasized that improving disaster management and risk and response capabilities is essential in building resilient societies and communities as well as to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ms. SCHEUER (Switzerland) said global humanitarian needs are increasing every year, overwhelming the humanitarian system. “The system is under water,” she said, adding that the current trajectory is unsustainable. The only solution is to address root causes of crisis, including conflicts, forced displacement and epidemics. The Assembly can help the United Nations system provide a more coordinated response, she stressed, noting that these resolutions provide the regulatory framework. More support and financing should be given to local actors, who are the first responders. International humanitarian law must be upheld to ensure access for responders and a more proactive approach is needed to reduce the impact of certain shocks, such as climate change. “We are speaking of attitudes here,” she said. “It is urgent to change the entire mindset of humanitarian work.”
HUSSAIN A. MOHAMED HUSSAIN (Maldives), noting that 90 per cent of refugees come from countries that are among the most vulnerable and the least ready to adapt to climate change, pointed out that by 2050, approximately 1 billion people are projected to be at risk from coastal-specific climate hazards. His country, where most of the land area is less than one metre above sea level, is already suffering the impact of coastal erosion, frequent monsoon flooding and intense sea surges. Pointing to the record-breaking rains in Pakistan as well as the catastrophic loss caused by hurricanes Fiona and Ian in North and Central America, he added that across the Horn of Africa, humanitarian emergencies caused by acute drought have affected an approximate 36.1 million people. Applauding the establishment of a loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries at the twenty-seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm el‑Sheikh, he also emphasized the need for finalizing and implementing a multidimensional vulnerability index.
ABDULAZIZ F. A. AL THANI (Qatar), spotlighting Qatar’s leading role in humanitarian aid and assistance, said his country recently donated $12 billion to the Horn of Africa and announced $20 million to support African countries in accessing food exports from Ukraine. In providing multi-year, non-earmarked aid for the United Nations agencies, Qatar has worked closely with strategic partners, including OCHA and committed to supporting the Central Emergency Response Fund with $2 million for 2022-2023. It has also provided humanitarian aid and assistance to the Palestinian people, including the signing of a multi-year agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in 2018. Going forward, Qatar will continue to provide development aid and assistance, support United Nations agencies and cooperate on humanitarian affairs, he pledged.
ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran) voiced concern over the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Yemen, including the massive influx of displaced Afghans to neighbouring countries. She stressed that humanitarian crises must not lead to foreign intervention, including under the pretext of the responsibility to protect. While West Asia is prone to a variety of disasters, such as earthquakes, droughts and floods, Iran has suffered tremendously from the additional weight of unlawful and illegal unilateral sanctions. On the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, she stressed that, as winter approaches and the situation of the Afghan people — especially women, girls and children — continues to deteriorate, the timely provision of humanitarian assistance and release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets should in no way be politicized. To tackle environmental challenges in West Asia, Iran — with agencies related to the United Nations — will convene an International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms in 2023, she said.
Mr. AMBRAZEVICH (Belarus) said that his country is doing everything possible to assist nations facing humanitarian crises. Over the past 20 years, Belarus has participated in 76 humanitarian missions to 32 countries and, in November, prepared shipments to be sent to Syria and Pakistan. Turning to the Chernobyl disaster, he said that its consequences for Belarus were comparable with the destruction caused by the Second World War. International solidarity to respond to this disaster represented a “shining example” of diplomacy and dedicated, depoliticized international cooperation, he noted, stating that the people of Belarus will never forget this aid. Now, Belarus has evolved from a recipient country to a full-pledged humanitarian partner and is willing to share its expertise in addressing large-scale, anthropogenic disasters. He added a call for international cooperation regarding Chernobyl to continue in the spirit of coordination and partnership, urging that the issue not serve as a platform for manipulation or exacerbation of confrontation.
KAROLINA KRUPA, Director of the Development Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, said that, since 24 February, one of the biggest humanitarian crises since Second World War has been unfolding in the territory of its immediate neighbour, Ukraine. Just hours later, the Polish Government began assisting Ukrainian civilians who were forced to move from peace to war overnight. Some 77 per cent of Poles have been involved in various kinds of assistance for Ukraine and its people, who found refuge in Polish territory. She stressed that the international community’s overall humanitarian response must be coordinated and coherent, and concrete actions and innovations prioritized, with respect for international humanitarian law. For Poland, respect for international humanitarian law, international law, human principles and accountability are core rules that make the humanitarian system reliable for civilians who find themselves in conflict zones.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reiterated the commitment of its member States in protecting humanitarian space and deterring violations of international humanitarian law. Continued violations lead to massive assistance and protection needs for civilians and prevent vital assistance from reaching those in need. As principled humanitarian actors and medical workers must never be targets, perpetrators must be held accountable, he said. In expressing his concern over the rise of information manipulation which can undermine trust in humanitarian organizations and place their personnel at serious risk, he called on States and parties to conflict to prevent disinformation. To ensure that humanitarian space remains open for all necessary aid to reach those in need, States must undertake mitigating measures to prevent any potentially negative impact of sanctions and counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian activities. Accountability measures, he continued, must take a survivor-centred approach and avoid re‑traumatizing those who have already suffered harm.
Turning his attention to the unprecedented global food crisis which has been exacerbated by climate change and conflict, he called for urgent action to keep famine at bay. With no time to lose, the European Union has increased its humanitarian food assistance by 64 per cent since 2020 and has allocated €8 billion to the Team Europe Response to Global Food Insecurity until 2024. Others must step up too, he urged as he outlined the need for at‑scale multi-sectoral solutions, holistic responses which address root causes and the front-loading of funding to enable early response and investments in sustainable solutions that build community resilience. The donor base for humanitarian action must be expanded, he added. “Helping the most vulnerable people around the world is a shared responsibility and we need to see a much broader group of countries contributing to humanitarian funding,” he stressed.
ANTONIO M. A. LAGDAMEO (Philippines) spotlighted his country’s experiences with disasters to underscore the importance of humanitarian resolutions. Anticipatory action can reduce the impact of crises, he noted as he highlighted his country’s development plan to manage multi-dimensional risks from natural disasters and pandemics. As information and communications technology (ICT) also has a critical role in risk assessment, disaster risk reduction and the provision of humanitarian assistance, States must bridge the divide including through technology transfers. The Philippines, he noted, will continue to strengthen its multi-hazard, impact-based forecasting and early warning action systems to develop rights-based and gender-responsive social protection programmes. Turning his attention to the plight of migrants, he called on all States to fully respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, ensure the lawful provision of assistance and account for such populations in crisis preparedness, emergency response and post-crisis action.
AHMED MOHAMED E A ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt) raised concern over the unprecedented increase in humanitarian assistance over the course of the last year, in addition to the adverse impact of climate change. Warning against the continuous impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic, he stressed the need to take expedited measures to tackle food insecurity, enhance international cooperation and avoid a spike in humanitarian aid. The international community must take effective measures to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of people who are still facing crises, he said, stressing the importance of protecting civilians. In this context, he called for political solutions and investments in capacity-building to create an environment conducive to sustainable development. The principles of humanitarian work — including impartiality, independence and non-interference in internal affairs — must be respected, he asserted, supporting all efforts to end conflicts and alleviate human suffering.
MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ H. ALATEEK (Saudi Arabia) said the coordination of humanitarian assistance is one of the General Assembly’s most important agenda items, at a time when the world is still recovering from the economic and health impacts of the pandemic. It is incumbent on the international community to respond to the unprecedented number of crises. The 2023 global humanitarian plan launched last week shows that 399 million people in 69 States need assistance and that the cost will reach $51.5 billion, up 25 per cent over 2022. As one of the largest international humanitarian donors, Saudi Arabia considers such aid one of its most important priorities. The third Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum will be held in Saudi Arabia in February 2023, providing an important platform to coordinate international humanitarian responses. Strategic planning, based on scientific principles, is also needed, as is protected and safe access for humanitarian workers. He said the Saudi Government has responded to humanitarian emergencies around the world, including donations of $10 million to Pakistan; more than $18 billion to Yemen; and $5.2 billion to the Palestinian cause.
GENG SHUANG (China) called on the international community to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, which should adhere to humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law, respect the sovereignty of recipient countries, avoid interference in internal affairs and prevent the politicization and instrumentalization of humanitarian issues. The protection of vulnerable groups should be strengthened and unilateral coercive measures lifted at an early date to avoid exacerbating already dire situations, he added. He called on donors to increase their assistance, close the funding gap, respond to all humanitarian crises without discrimination and provide a particular helping hand to African countries. The international community, he continued, must combine short-term assistance with long-term development, increase development assistance and ensure a smooth transition from relief to development. It must also increase assistance to developing countries to enhance their capacities in disaster prevention and reduction. Developed countries must accelerate their support through funds, technologies and means, earnestly fulfilling their historical responsibility and international obligations to address climate change, he urged.
MATTHEW CHAN (Singapore), associating himself with ASEAN, emphasized the need for the United Nations system to adapt quickly to new and emerging challenges on disaster risk and management. Although the ASEAN region has experienced an increased frequency of natural disasters with catastrophic consequences, he stressed, “it is not too late to take decisive action”. There must be greater investment in resilience-building and early warning since prevention is significantly cheaper. As a small island developing State which faces the existential threat of sea level rise, Singapore has developed a costal-inland flood model to assess food risks and established a dedicated fund to finance the construction of drainage infrastructure and coastal protection measures. Partnerships with non-State actors to build resilience must be strengthened and technology to better predict disasters must be harnessed, he stressed. All Member States must work with and through the United Nations to build the resilience of the most vulnerable, he urged.
MOHD ABDULRAHMAN MOHAMED JALIL SULTAN ALOLAMA (United Arab Emirates) stressed that humanitarian aid should be provided based on principles free of any religious, racial or political considerations. Describing prevention as the most cost-effective investment to protect humanity and improve adaptations to climate change by mitigating its effects, he urged the United Nations bodies to step up their actions and strengthen links with local communities in emergency responses, ensuring the participation of women. This strategy will facilitate access of entire populations to aid, especially the most vulnerable, he noted, commending the work of first responders to humanitarian crises. Reaffirming the common responsibility to take necessary measures to prevent local conflicts, he said the United Arab Emirates will continue to work closely with Member States, United Nations agencies and other stakeholders to provide a collective response to growing humanitarian needs worldwide.
FIONA WEBSTER (Australia) said that, in 2023, the world will continue to face compounding challenges, including rising food insecurity, protracted conflicts, record levels of displacement and the impacts of climate change. This will require continued and increased humanitarian assistance, she said, while stressing that such assistance alone is not the solution. The international community must facilitate political solutions and hold warring parties to account for violations of international humanitarian law. Further, it must invest in a multi-hazard, cross-sectoral approach to disaster risk reduction, preparedness and resilience-building, while ensuring that gender equality, disability inclusion and localization are at the centre of such efforts. She added that, as the Asia-Pacific region is the most disaster-prone region in the world, her country was proud to host the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Brisbane in September.
SAMUEL VIGERSKY (United States) said the world is facing an unprecedented crisis of food insecurity, as countries reel from hunger and malnutrition caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, climate change and the Russian Federation’s illegal war against Ukraine. Families are facing impossible choices, as they are forced to decide which child to feed, wondering whether they will survive. The United States is stepping up on all fronts to meet urgent global challenges as the largest single humanitarian donor. It has provided $17 billion in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2022 and, since the Russian Federation launched its premeditated, unprovoked invasion in February, it has provided more than $1.5 billion in assistance to support displaced persons in Ukraine and the region. Further, it has committed nearly $11 billion since the invasion began to address the global food-security crisis. He went on to note that his country is also providing more than $2 billion in assistance for drought response in the Horn of Africa for fiscal year 2022, as well as being the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Detailing the pernicious effects of conflict on humanitarian actors, he underscored the need to promote accountability consistent with international humanitarian law across all conflicts.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said the Assembly was able to obtain consensus on three humanitarian resolutions this year, despite differing approaches, expressing hope this process will continue. Global humanitarian needs are alarming, with 399 million people needing help and a record amount of aid ‑ $55.1 billion ‑ required, he said, stressing that donor participation is more important than ever. The Russian Federation normally contributes through bilateral channels and entities in the United Nations system. Yet this year, the country has been subjected to a record number of sanctions by the United States and the European Union that have limited its ability to provide assistance. In 2021, before sanctions were imposed, the Russian Federation provided official development assistance (ODA) of $1.2 billion. He called on the Secretariat to seek solutions to this problem and for involved parties to understand how their responses are undermining humanitarian work. He disagreed with statements that the Russian Federation has triggered the global food and security crisis. As a producer of fertilizer and food, his country is motivated to expand its exports and create stable food markets,
ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway), voicing concern over the increasing level of global food insecurity, stressed the need for strengthened humanitarian assistance and protection. The protection of civilians — including children — has been a defining aspect of Norway’s tenure as an elected Security Council member, he noted before calling on all States to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration. Turning to the need to work smarter and better, he said innovative solutions will be key to closing the growing gap between humanitarian needs and resources, improve responses and ultimately ensure better protection for people affected by conflict. In light of the need to reinforce local humanitarian action and ensure better accountability, Norway will continue to push for reforms which place the needs of people at the centre. He then called for closer collaboration between humanitarian efforts, long-term development assistance and peacebuilding; a stronger connection with climate change adaptation and prevention, including through finance for climate-robust food production; and increased anticipatory action.
ASYA THANCHITT (Thailand), aligning herself with ASEAN, stressed the need to further strengthen efforts to prevent, prepare for and address challenges at the local, national and regional levels. Humanitarian assistance must reach those in critical need in accordance with humanitarian principles and full respect for international humanitarian law, she stressed. As the COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated that health services are vital components in humanitarian relief efforts, Member States must work to advance universal health coverage and ensure essential health services and public health functions in emergencies. Coordination between health and disaster risk management sectors must increase, and medical personnel must have necessary protection and support, she added. She then emphasized the need to build the capacity of countries and relevant actors to prepare for and respond to natural hazards by strengthening the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
SHIRLEY ONG (Canada), noting that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance climbed during 2022 to reach a staggering 324 million, voiced concern over the proliferation of armed conflicts worldwide. Moscow’s deplorable attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have precipitated unprecedented rates of forced displacement in Europe, contributing to global food insecurity and a malnutrition crisis. Globally, forced displacement surpassed 100 million people, she said, adding that more than 300 million people need clean water, emergency medicine, shelter and food. Hundreds of millions are experiencing hunger, in some cases at catastrophic levels, she cautioned, pointing to the situations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Highlighting her country’s humanitarian priorities, she stressed the need to mobilize all possible resources, including those already in place. Further, she called for reinforcing the critical role of local and national actors, including women-led and refugee-led organizations, who are on the front lines of humanitarian responses. Drawing attention to the many underfunded humanitarian crises around the world — including in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel — she stressed that “suffering is suffering, no matter where it is”. To protect the most vulnerable during armed conflict, Canada endorsed the Political Declaration on protecting civilians from the effects of armed conflict in populated areas, signed on 18 November in Dublin.
ANDREEA MOCANU (Romania), aligning herself with the European Union, said that 2022 was profoundly marked by the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian Federation’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. To respond to the staggering number of people in need, Romania swiftly dispatched humanitarian assistance to provide relief to the most vulnerable among those affected by the war, and, most recently, it has consolidated its support for Ukraine during the winter months. A voluntary contribution of €300,000 is being disbursed, and Romania will also host a modular temporary shelter that will be fully equipped and ensure accommodation for up to 16,000 refugees. Also pointing out that the Russian Federation’s unlawful war triggered a record crisis in the neighbouring country of Moldova, she said that her country has contributed around €10.5 million in response. Detailing additional humanitarian assistance provided by her country, she added that Romania has joined international efforts to address food insecurity generated by Moscow’s aggression, as more than 8.5 million tons of Ukrainian agricultural products have transited Romania to reach countries in need.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand), stressing the need to ensure the safety of humanitarian actors, noted the soaring demand for their assistance, driven by the compounding effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and climate change as well as the lack of political will to prevent and end armed conflict. “The warnings are clear: unless we can forge political solutions, next year food supplies could be tighter,” she emphasized, commending the Black Sea Grain Initiative as an example of what can be achieved through talking rather than fighting. Turning to her country’s advocacy for women and girls in all their diversity, she stressed that their sexual and reproductive rights must be upheld in all contexts. Without this, gender equality and women’s empowerment simply cannot be achieved. She then underscored the effects of climate change in driving and magnifying humanitarian needs, emphasizing the value of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, anticipatory action and emergency preparedness.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), calling for a shared vision and collaborative political will, said his country will use limited resources effectively by ensuring that humanitarian responses are accountable, data-driven and cost-effective. Digital cash transfers, he noted, are an effective and dignified way to deliver assistance, which his Government will champion and scale up. The United Kingdom, he continued, will uphold international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law by utilizing its position as a Council member to enable unhindered access to those in need, ensure accountability for those who violate humanitarian principles and the United Nations Charter in Ukraine, and bolster support to local, women-led organizations. To prevent today’s problems from turning into tomorrow’s crises, his country will also leverage its networks to deepen early warning expertise, promote innovation and strengthen systems to prevent and anticipate shocks. Using its position on the boards of international financial institutions to unlock financing for these efforts, the United Kingdom will also continue to push for increased access to climate finance in climate-vulnerable countries.
CEREN HANDE ÖZGÜR (Türkiye), calling for sufficient, predictable and sustained humanitarian assistance, noted that her country is doing its part as the second largest donor. As humanitarian aid must reach those in need through the most direct routes, efforts to ensure access to critical services and assistance must be guided solely by humanitarian considerations and not be politicized. She then reiterated her country’s support for renewal of the mandate for the United Nations’ cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism for Syria, pledged its continued support to the Black Sea Grain Initiative and emphasized the need for humanitarian assistance to account for and act upon emerging risks and trends. The dignity, humane treatment, well-being and rights of migrants and refugees must be upheld as a moral and legal obligation for States, she continued. As the largest refugee hosting country, Türkiye also calls for greater solidarity as well as predictable and equitable responsibility sharing, she said, before expressing her support for UNRWA.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), stressing that the international community is facing a myriad of challenges that have exacerbated humanitarian needs, said humanitarian actors are struggling daily to respond not only to crises that are related to armed conflicts, but extreme climate events, including droughts, earthquakes and tsunamis. The impact of climate change, ranging from food insecurity to forced displacement, as well as the COVID‑19 pandemic and its direct and indirect impacts, is affecting the most vulnerable, particularly women and children. Early warning systems must cover multiple risks, he said, calling for flexible financing combined with climate forecasting. He underscored that alarming food insecurity and the risk of famine require a global coordinated response through humanitarian action that is in synergy with efforts for development and peacebuilding. To alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable populations, he called for a diversified system of humanitarian partnerships, including Member States and the United Nations as well as international and regional humanitarian organizations. He also urged for greater mobilization by the international community to guarantee the security of medical and humanitarian staff.
CARMEN NISHIHARA (Chile) expressed concern over escalating violence, especially that present in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Noting that the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people increase every year, reflecting the gravity of economic and health crises faced by those in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, she underscored the need to provide assistance on the ground and increase resources available to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). She went on to stress that the disproportionate use of force has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, and the indiscriminate use of violence against civilians is unacceptable. She called on both parties to abide by their obligations to protect civilians, also underlining the need to seek a lasting, just and sustainable solution. Chile will continue working to achieve two independent States with secure, internationally recognized borders, she said, reiterating her country’s support for Palestinians’ right to an independent country.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), speaking also on behalf of Sweden, said the primary responsibility for providing protection and assistance in a humanitarian crisis lies with the concerned country and its national Government. Yet, when provided, international humanitarian assistance must be given impartially, according to guiding principles of relevant Assembly resolutions. India and Sweden remain committed to preserving the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in responding to all humanitarian situations. Respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter, including sovereignty, political independence and the territorial integrity of Member States, should remain the basis for all humanitarian assistance.
The latest Global Humanitarian Overview report, released just a few days ago, gives details of humanitarian challenges facing the world, calling for $51.5 billion to bring life-saving support to 230 million of the world’s most vulnerable people. “This is a formidable challenge for the entire international community, and one we cannot afford to downplay,” he said. One encouraging indicator is that data collection has improved and flexible instruments like the Central Emergency Response Fund and Country-Based Pool Funds allow for the quick re-direction of resources to address the most acute needs. The private sector is increasingly stepping in as a strong and creative partner to traditional humanitarian actors. Moving forward, he urged the international community to look beyond immediate relief and rehabilitation and promote disaster resilience infrastructure through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The Coalition’s membership has expanded to include 30 countries and seven multilateral organizations, he noted.
Mr. AL AJMI (Kuwait) underlined the importance of giving priority to humanitarian action, noting that precepts of the Muslim religion lead to extending a friendly hand to those who most need it. He reiterated the need for strengthening and coordinating human assistance and relief provided by the United Nations in the event of disasters and crisis. Turning to the report of the Secretary-General, he lamented the number of people who have fled their homes, including in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Recalling violations of international humanitarian law in different parts of the world, he underscored that ongoing military occupation impacts the humanitarian, social and political life of the Palestinian people. In this regard, he also highlighted the “war machine” against unarmed civilians and continued blockade of the Gaza strip.
ABUZIED SHAMSELDIN AHMED MOHAMED (Sudan), emphasizing the need for increased funding to save lives, rehabilitate infrastructure and enable resilience, called for enhanced partnerships with regional and international organizations, donors, States and local communities. Increased coordination with local communities, he added, must offer the appropriate level of services, while balancing priorities in a manner addressing the humanitarian needs of all. Underscoring the importance of humanitarian work in peacebuilding, he said experience has demonstrated that humanitarian aid must expand to include projects which generate livelihoods, guarantee the stability of families and residents and avoid any displacement or friction. For humanitarian aid to arrive in a timely manner, States must respect humanitarian principles and operations and guarantee the protection and rehabilitation of humanitarian workers. He then spotlighted his Government’s response to several crises and disasters in his country, adding that international support for those affected must not be tied to the political situation.
YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, warned that in 2023 over 339 million people will need humanitarian assistance. Stressing the importance of international humanitarian law and the preservation of humanitarian space, he cautioned that humanitarian workers, including local workers, are increasingly falling victim to attacks. The international community has a moral duty towards those who put their life in danger, he emphasized, adding that the perpetrators and accomplices of attacks against humanitarian workers must be prosecuted and punished. Warning against the consequences of climate change, he drew attention to the situation in Pakistan and the Horn of Africa. Condemning Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, he said the Russian Federation is deliberately targeting civilians, using winter as a weapon of war. He highlighted initiatives such as corridors of solidarity, the farm initiative to support countries most affected by the global food crisis as well as the initiative to facilitate access to fertilizers for vulnerable countries, especially African countries. Further, he voiced support for an increased presence of women in management positions in humanitarian organizations.
NATALIIA MUDRENKO (Ukraine), aligning herself with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s war on her country uprooted some 14.5 million Ukrainians, or one-third of the population. Since 24 February, Moscow has attacked Ukraine with more than 16,000 missiles, rockets, bombs and drones, 97 per cent of which targeted civilian infrastructure and residential areas. Millions of Ukrainians are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, she stressed, as “winter is here, and this winter will be the hardest to live through”. Thanking all those who have provided help, she urged the international community to continue supplying aid and protection services to her country. She went on to point out that, despite the horrors of war, Ukraine is one of the guarantors of global food security. As of 2 December, over 12.4 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported via the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and Ukraine has also launched the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative, which will send 60 ships to countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Yemen to help those in need. Also detailing the consequences of the Russian Federation’s attack on the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, she stressed that, without immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, grave risks to the nuclear safety of Ukraine and beyond will remain.
MOSAMMAT SHAHANARA MONICA (Bangladesh), expressing her concern over negative impacts of growing global needs on humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas, urged partners to scale up their efforts for responsibility sharing and pay increased attention to the deteriorating situation in Myanmar. As a highly climate-vulnerable and disaster-prone country, Bangladesh recognizes the expanding need for the collection and sharing of data and evidence on displacement, she said. International emergency response mechanisms should be tailored to national priorities and the situation on the ground; backed by sustainable, flexible and multi-year financing support; and coordinated with national governments and other relevant actors. The international community, she continued, must undertake development activities with a focus on building resilience and reducing dependency. She then emphasized the importance of strengthening gender-responsive policy development for disaster risk reduction and mitigation, stressing the need to ensure accountability and justice for any reported violence against humanitarian personnel and civilian infrastructure.
MAJED S. F. BAMYA, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said there is no effective humanitarian response without a political response, underscoring the importance of delivering international action and promoting peaceful settlement to bring the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to an end. He underscored that early international engagement for prevention and resolution of emergency situations will always be far less costly than a delayed, partial and insufficient response. Turning to the economic cost of the occupation of Palestine, estimated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at $58 billion in lost potential gross domestic product (GDP) in the West Bank alone due to Israeli restrictions between 2000 and 2020, he said that price is higher than humanitarian assistance provided to the Palestinian people since 1948. “Palestine can, virtually overnight, become aid independent, once its political independence is guaranteed”, he added.
PETER DAVIDSON MCGUIRE, observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, called for the international community to follow through with the funding promises made to at-risk nations. The Sovereign Order of Malta, he noted, is implementing measures to ensure that communities are prepared when disasters strike and has focused particularly on people who are least able to flee from war and conflict. He then spotlighted the Sovereign Order of Malta’s support for Pakistan after the epochal level of flooding, the affected areas of the Chernobyl disaster and Palestine. The United Nations, he said, is the last best hope not only in coordinating humanitarian and disaster relief but also in energizing the will and power to break through differences and put the needs of the sick, poor and marginalized at the centre. “If all of us expand our collective collaboration with the United Nations aid agencies and related bodies, we can be on the right side of history and continue to earn the respect of those who are, tragically, on the wrong side of the economic divide,” he emphasized.
LIANA GHUKASYAN, Permanent Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that over the past decade, 83 per cent of all disasters were caused by climate-related events. She cautioned that 200 million people every year could need international humanitarian aid by 2050 due to a cruel combination of climate-related disasters and their socioeconomic impact. In this context, she urged all Member States to scale up locally led climate adaptation. As humanitarian impacts of climate change keep growing, so too should financing for local action on climate adaptation, ensuring it reaches the world’s most impoverished communities. No country is immune to the climate crisis and all Governments need to invest in climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction. However, some countries and communities are more vulnerable than others: they have greater exposure to extreme climate; higher susceptibility to disasters; and lower capacity to adapt. Thus, she called on Member States and United Nations agencies to prioritise the most vulnerable and commit to accountable funding allocation of climate finance for adaptation.
She also called on the international community to increase the amount of climate finance for local actors. Currently, only 10 per cent of adaptation funding is granted to the local level, with less than 2 per cent of total climate funding. The top 30 countries that receive the most adaptation funding are not among the top 30 most vulnerable countries. Additionally, multilateral humanitarian finance remains particularly difficult for local organizations and groups to access. International investment still flows mostly to international organizations, rather than local actors who are on the frontline of the fight against climate change, she emphasized. Raising concern over barriers to climate finance, she said a key part of the solution will be ensuring that climate, development, disaster risk reduction and humanitarian funds work together in a common purpose.
LAETITIA MARIE ISABELLE COURTOIS, observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), called on all parties to facilitate the work of medical and humanitarian personnel, respect their safety and security, and preserve humanitarian space. Regarding the urbanization of warfare, she pointed to a milestone political declaration — "Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas" adopted in Dublin last month by over 80 States. The Declaration aims to improve protection of civilians from explosive weapons in populated areas, one of the major causes of civilian harm in today's armed conflicts. This collective achievement has the potential to change the fate of hundreds of thousands of persons, she said, noting that for the first time in an instrument of this kind, States acknowledge the gravity of the problem and commit to taking concrete actions to address it. It sends a powerful signal that belligerents cannot continue fighting in populated areas the way they have until now, she stressed, urging for broader support for the Declaration. She also called on Member States to operationalize Security Council Resolution 2573 on the protection of essential services and comply fully with international humanitarian law.
She went on to underscore that, in recent years, several cyber operations have affected States' critical civilian infrastructure, such as nuclear plants, electricity grids and water systems, as well as humanitarian organizations. In this respect, the ICRC urges States to consider the risk of adverse humanitarian consequences when making any decision relating to cyber operations during armed conflicts. Further, she called on States to apply existing rules of international humanitarian law in good faith to ensure sufficient protection for civilians, civilian infrastructure and civilian data. States should also take measures to ensure that humanitarian organizations are protected online and offline and that civilians are protected against harmful information such as hate speech.
Actions on Draft Resolutions
The Assembly first adopted without a vote the resolution “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/77/L.30).
Next, it adopted without a vote the resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/77/L.32).
The Assembly then adopted without a vote the resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/77/L.34).
It went on to adopt without a vote the resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/77/L.35).
Statements in Explanation of Position after Vote
The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking for a group of countries in explanation of position after the vote, said his delegation joined consensus on resolution “L.30” because it believes in the importance of the topic. Turning to the topics on reproductive and sexual health and disease and health services, as mentioned in operative paragraphs 62 and 63, he noted that such issues should be considered in line with national legislation, including religious and social values of society.
The representative of the Russian Federation, while noting that her country traditionally joins consensus on resolutions concerning humanitarian personnel, said the International Court of Justice is deteriorating. Over its 20 years of existence, there have been scandalous falsifications and an unprecedented use of incorrect, politicized approaches. She therefore disassociated her delegation from the operative and preambular paragraphs of “L.35” relating to the Court.
The representative of Algeria, welcoming adoption of the resolutions, called on the international community to demonstrate further solidarity by providing humanitarian aid to people in vulnerable situations. Turning to the references on sexual and reproductive health care, he stressed that this concept and principle only refers to health care services in line with national legislation as well as cultural and religious values of societies. At the international level, they must be in line with agreed upon principles of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development as well as those adopted by the Assembly. On the global compact for migration, he underscored its legally non‑binding nature. Countries, he reaffirmed, have the sovereign right to adopt legislation as they see fit to manage their migration portfolios.
The representative of Türkiye, explaining her delegation’s position on operative paragraph 17 of “L.32”, said there is no direct, causal link empirically evident between climate change and displacement, adding that assumptions linking the two phenomena hinders focus on the root causes of the latter. Recalling that various General Assembly resolutions concerning internally displaced persons, migration and disaster risk reduction refer to the adverse effects of climate change as “one of the risk multipliers or push factors in certain instances, among other drivers”, said that this formulation reflects Türkiye’s position on this issue.
The representative of the Philippines, reaffirming her commitment to the protection of humanitarian and United Nations personnel and the full-forced application of the law against persons who attack them, disassociated from all paragraphs mentioning the International Criminal Court, including preambular paragraph 32 and operative paragraph 8. The Philippines, she noted, withdrew from the Rome Statute on 17 March 2019 out of a principled stance against those who politicize human rights and disregard her country’s independent and well-functioning organs and agencies. As the Rome Statute is anchored on the principle of complementarity, the Court is not a substitute for national courts, she emphasized.
The representative of Hungary, speaking on preambular paragraph 13 of the resolution “L.32”, recalled that his country did not endorse the Global Compact on Migration and does not participate in its implementation. In this regard, Hungary cannot accept any reference to the Compact in international documents and disassociates itself from preambular paragraph 13 of the resolution.A51
The observer of the Holy See recommended that all announcements on this process proceed through official communication channels in the future to ensure transparency and inclusivity so that all delegations are promptly informed and able to participate. In welcoming “L.32” for its language on identifying and applying lessons learned and best practices as well as its call on preventing famine and addressing food security and malnutrition, she expressed her reservations on two concepts in “L.30” and “L.32”. The Holy See, she noted, does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive health-care services”. On “gender” and its derivatives, the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and difference.
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, condemned systematic looting perpetrated by the United States occupying forces. Opposing claims made by the United States delegation, she said her Government is sparing no effort to guarantee protection for humanitarian convoys. Voicing concern over the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, she stressed that these illegal and unethical measures deepen the suffering of the Syrian people and lead to extreme shortage of medication as well as limited access to food, water, electricity and fuel. “Only when the United States withdraws its forces from Syria, stops supporting separatist militias, lifts its unilateral coercive measures that contribute to the suffering of Syrians, only then can the United States talk about humanitarian assistance,” she asserted.
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of her right of reply, refuted the open speculation and misinformation of Ukraine and its Western patrons concerning nuclear power plants. Providing an overview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to Chernobyl, she said the plant — while under her country’s control — was in a safe and secure condition where operators were not negatively affected nor stopped from working. Ukraine, on the other hand, created artificial obstacles for personnel and facilitated an emergency situation, she pointed out. Turning to the Zaporizhzhia power plant, she said Ukraine’s shelling constitutes the main threat to that plant’s security. The United States and its allies ignored the documents her country circulated in the Security Council and never doubt Ukraine. This is playing a game with the lives of people in that country and the entire European continent,” she said, underscoring that the Russian Federation did everything necessary to safely carry out the IAEA mission. Western countries’ encouragement of Ukraine’s provocative actions on these two nuclear power plants creates the false idea that such actions will remain unpunished and will promote new and even more dangerous actions. These countries share the responsibility for these actions and consequences, she stressed.
The representative of Belarus underscored that international cooperation on Chernobyl must be continued exclusively in a spirit of partnership and that this issue should not become a platform for politicization, manipulation or aggravating confrontation. The consequences of the Chernobyl accident were a common affliction, and overcoming them is a common goal. For its part, Belarus remains committed to international cooperation in this area based on dialogue and partnership, and she recalled that her country provided around 20 million kilowatts of electricity to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in March and April to avoid a catastrophe in the region. She expressed hope that nuclear security will be an absolute priority for all stakeholders.
Culture of Peace
ATA EYEBERDIYEV (Turkmenistan), introducing the draft resolution entitled “International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, 2023” (document A/77/L.10), said the document reflects the main principles of the United Nations Charter to settle disputes by peaceful means and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. As the product of comprehensive consultations, the text reaffirms that inclusive dialogue plays an important role in strengthening cooperation and relations between Member States; emphasizes the role of women, youth, children and older persons; declares 2023 the International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace; and calls on the community of nations to resolve conflicts through inclusive dialogue and negotiation in order to ensure the strengthening of peace as a value that promotes sustainable development, security and human rights. Turkmenistan’s hosting of the international conference — “Dialogue is a Guarantee of Peace” — on 11 December is a timely and necessary step towards sustainable peace, he noted.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution “International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, 2023” (document A/77/L.10).
By its terms, the Assembly declared 2023 the International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, underlining that this constitutes a means of mobilizing efforts of the international community to promote peace and trust among nations based on political dialogue, negotiations, mutual understanding and cooperation to build sustainable peace, solidarity and harmony. Calling on the international community to resolve conflicts through inclusive dialogue and negotiations to ensure the strengthening of peace and trust in relations between Member States in promoting sustainable development, peace and security and human rights, it invites Member States, United Nations entities, international and regional organizations and civil society to facilitate observance of the year and disseminate the advantages of peace and trust, including through educational and public awareness-raising activities.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said the resolution would have been stronger and more effective if it referred to tangible goals supported by data. She said her country supports the idea of ”friendship to all and malice towards none”, as referenced in preambular paragraph 14. However, the language in this paragraph does not explicitly clarify how the phrase will be used to strengthen international peace. Turning to paragraph 11 of the 1980/67 resolution of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, she pointed out that any decision on international years or dates should be announced a full year ahead of time, meaning that the first possible year to observe this international year will be 2024 and not 2023.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that, as the international community looks ahead to 2023 as the international year of dialogue as a guarantee of peace, it must recall what the Charter of the United Nations says about the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Stressing that “actions must follow words”, she said the resolution cannot be implemented unless and until the Russian Federation stops its illegal war in Ukraine.
The representative of Ukraine recalled that, since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s aggression in 2014, Ukraine has been committed to peaceful settlement through dialogue and negotiation. However, instead of reciprocating, Moscow commenced a military build-up on Ukraine’s borders. Even on the eve of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly urged the Russian leader towards talks, dialogue and de-escalation. Several hours later, Russian rockets and bombs hit peaceful Ukrainian villages. Now, more than nine months later, Russian missiles and shells continue to target Ukrainian homes, schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure. Against that backdrop, he said his delegation is “baffled” to find the Russian Federation and its accomplice Belarus among the list of the resolution’s co-sponsors. Stressing that “a rotten apple can spoil a whole barrel”, he said his country harbours no illusion that this resolution will make Moscow withdraw its troops or cease killing Ukrainians.