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National statements

Humanitarian Debate - Australian National Statement

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Ebola
  • Extremism
  • Human Rights
  • Humanitarian
  • Iraq
  • Peace and Security
  • Women


"Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance"

Statement by Mr Peter Versegi, Minister-Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations

Mr President

Australia welcomes the adoption of this year's UN General Assembly Resolution on strengthening the coordination of the UN's humanitarian assistance.

Effective and coordinated international assistance is essential at a time when the humanitarian system is confronted by unprecedented political, operational and financial challenges. This includes four system-wide Level 3 crises and the Ebola outbreak. Our thoughts are also with the government and people of the Philippines as they deal with the consequences of another disaster.

The magnitude and complexity of crises has changed the global humanitarian landscape. We can no longer talk about a linear transition from response to recovery.

The proliferation of conflict and protracted humanitarian crises are taking an incalculable toll on civilians. More than 52 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes– the highest number since World War II.

At the same time, humanitarian actors are working in increasingly hostile environments, with more killed in 2013 than ever before.

Further, violent extremism, as witnessed most starkly in Iraq over the last twelve months, has made humanitarian action even more dangerous and complex.

Women and girls are being disproportionately affected, facing a higher risk of sexual and gender based violence. Sexual violence must not be accepted as an inevitable consequence of crises.

We must improve prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, including through trauma, health and sexual and reproductive health-care services.

Mr President

Affected people must be at the centre of humanitarian action. Effective humanitarian action starts with accountability to affected people – this means engaging affected people in determining needs and in the allocation and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

We should also recognise that women have lead roles to play in peace and recovery efforts and as human rights defenders, particularly in humanitarian settings.

Mr President

Donors are providing record levels of funding for humanitarian relief. Yet we are not keeping up with spiralling needs. We cannot confront today's humanitarian challenges with a 'business as usual' approach.

We must use innovation – such as building on cash transfer technologies – to find new efficiencies in humanitarian assistance.

We must bring in new donors and facilitate a greater role for the private sector.

In all these endeavours we must ensure the consistency of these approaches with humanitarian principles.

Mr President

The political drivers fuelling today's entrenched crises are multifaceted and cannot be solved by humanitarian actors. We need political solutions that support conflict resolution and work to restore peace and security.

The international peace and security architecture plays a major role in that conflict resolution, but in the absence of broader political solutions it must engage to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in conflicts and crises.

Australia made this a priority during our term on the Security Council – to ensure better access and protection for humanitarian actors, placing this at the centre of Security Council debates.

We will continue to call for full compliance with international humanitarian law, including unfettered access to civilians.

The targeting of humanitarian workers, including medical and health care personnel, and arbitrary denial of humanitarian assistance must cease immediately. UNSC Resolution 2175 was unambiguous in sending this message.

Mr President

Reducing disaster risk and building resilience to disasters saves lives and must be an integral part of our strategy. It is also integral to sustainable economic development. We must continue to push for greater support for economic activity even within protracted crises.

Australia has consistently advocated that the post-2015 Hyogo framework for disaster risk reduction reflects a new paradigm where disaster risk reduction is seen as investment in a resilient future, rather than an optional cost.

Mr President

The World Humanitarian Summit is an opportunity to galvanise global support to address the pressures on the international humanitarian system. We encourage all Member States to actively support all voices – large and small – to come together to find solutions to the most pressing humanitarian challenges. We are pleased to support regional consultations in the Pacific, in partnership with New Zealand and OCHA.

In closing, Australia would like to convey our deep gratitude to Valerie Amos for her professional and steadfast leadership as the UN Under-Secretary General. Her tireless efforts and deep commitment to improving the lives of those who are relying on international humanitarian assistance, has resulted in real and meaningful change.

She has always sought to draw our attention to the impacts of crises on the lives of individuals. This is her legacy, but also the challenge, she leaves with us all.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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