Remarks by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, on "Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the UN, including Special Economic Assistance"

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative 
New York, NY
December 15, 2010




AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Madame President,

In the past year the world has suffered some immense tragedies, from Haiti’s earthquake to Pakistan’s floods. Thousands of our fellow beings have died or been injured, lost loved ones and their homes, and governments have been overwhelmed by these disasters. At the same time, our citizens have shown that we do care for each other, especially when the needs are great. That is why we thank the Secretary-General for his forward-looking report on strengthening the coordination of United Nations humanitarian assistance. We are doing our best and yet, we can do better.

In that regard, the report makes clear that threats and attacks against humanitarian workers continue to pose dangerous and unacceptable impediments to the delivery of critical relief assistance. The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries to those who offer help. We condemn the vile attacks against aid workers that hinder the delivery of assistance.

How should we continue to deliver assistance in high-risk environments to populations in need? The United States applauds “Saving Lives Together”, the effort to strengthen coordination between the UN system and NGOs on security matters in order to improve the safety of aid workers in humanitarian operations. We also look forward to the results of the independent review commissioned by OCHA on responding to emergencies in high-risk environments.

Getting the right people in the right place to the right time is vital to meet the urgent needs of those affected by disaster. The United States believes that the United Nations should make every effort to ensure that Resident Coordinators in disaster-prone countries have the necessary background, experience and training to coordinate a complicated humanitarian response while advocating for historic principles, including access.

The United States remains gravely concerned about gender-based violence and its global prevalence. We support the “United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict” initiative and the development of a coordinator’s handbook and other guidance. This is a wrong we must right.

We welcome the leadership of the new Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos and thank her for her energetic start. In three months, she has catalyzed efforts to improve the coordination of international relief efforts in a number of major crises.
The United States is committed to the Under-Secretary-General’s efforts to strengthen the coordination of humanitarian assistance. We believe that human suffering can be reduced, especially if we combine our best efforts and the United States is pleased to co-sponsor several of the humanitarian resolutions.

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PRN: 2010/329