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European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Humanitarian aid in a riskier, more complex world
High-Level Event on the World Humanitarian Summit/New York
26 September 2013
Let me start by welcoming the initiative of the Secretary- General to convene a World Humanitarian Summit in early 2016. It is timely. It is needed.
Today's humanitarian landscape is quite different from what it was in 1991, when the ground-breaking General Assembly resolution 46/182 established the bases of the current humanitarian system. The world has grown wealthier with new technologies and innovation that help us to better address needs. Domestic capacity to address emergencies has grown and the capacity of the communities has also increased. We just heard the Secretary-General recognising Turkey for its role. I congratulate the Minister. Finally, the community of humanitarian donors has grown. But today's world has also become riskier and more complex for humanitarians.
The most depressing feature of today's conflicts around the globe is the shrinking of the humanitarian space: humanitarian access being denied, humanitarian principles are trampled upon, the protection of civilians being disregarded. Humanitarian workers are targeted and pay a heavy toll. This puts at risk the ability of humanitarian organisations to deliver aid to victims. It also undermines the universal values in which the very principles of humanitarian assistance are grounded. We cannot possibly not put this issue at the heart of our reflections in the framework of the World Humanitarian Summit.
We are also witnessing a world in which the number and intensity of natural disasters is increasing. They put a heavy burden on our societies and economies. We can no longer wait for disasters to happen: we have to design a system that covers the full cycle of prevention, preparedness and response. National governments should be supported in their efforts to develop their disaster management capacities. It is essential to reduce vulnerabilities and better manage risks – and you well know how strongly ECHO, and me personally, champion resilience in humanitarian affairs.
With the heavy pressure on international aid budgets, we have to develop aid response systems that are more effective in operational terms and more inclusive in terms of actors.
We also support the proposed inclusive consultation process leading up to the Summit, which is now formally launched. Humanitarian aid is the preserve of no-one. It is the most profound expression of solidarity and empathy for the most vulnerable. It is therefore important to listen to the views of all UN member states, as they will subsequently need to agree any formal revisions of the applicable normative framework for humanitarian affairs, not least UNGA resolutions which will be negotiated here in New York during the next three months. But it would defeat the purpose of the Summit if we could not find a way to also hear from other humanitarian stakeholders, including affected populations, NGOs, private sector, academia, or others.
For these reasons we believe that the proposed themes or "platforms" for the Summit are the right ones.
How can we the European Union and its member states concretely support the Summit and the process? First, you can count on our political support and constructive engagement all the way to and at the Summit. Second, we are also looking at ways of concretely supporting the Summit's secretariat, and third, we are ready to partner with other countries and or regions in facilitating the consultative process.
To conclude: in our view the two main objectives and achievements of this Summit should be:
Dear Secretary General you can count on us to help you in this enterprise.