the representative of Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, at the Economic and Social Council, on Item 5:”International cooperation and coordinated responses to humanitarian emergencies, in particular, in the transition from relief to rehabilitation, reconstruction and development”.
Geneva, 15 July 1999
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the State Members of the Organization of Islamic Conference on the theme chosen for this humanitarian affairs segment of the ECOSOC. The Secretary-General’s report provides a good overview of the coordination and policy issues confronted by the United Nations over the past one year in dealing with humanitarian situations.
While the United Nations, and especially the UNHCR, was able to respond effectively to the most recent and to a some extent still an ongoing emergency in Kosovo, it has become increasingly obvious that despite clear early warnings. The United Nations was unable in the first two days to alleviate the suffering caused by this humanitarian tragedy of thousands of refugees who fled Kosovo. In addition, the United Nations system had no access to the people left inside Kosovo. These issues need examination in the elaborating augment for United Nations system in action in complex.
The Kosovo crisis reflected an immense outpouring of sympathy for the Kosovars fleeing from persecution and a conflict situation marked with terrible and well documented human rights violations. It also reflected international solidarity with refugee hosting countries Albania and Macedonia. Albania iis an OIC member state. We appreciate the efforts made by this small country even while facing imposing economic difficulties. Its generosity and open heartedness are an example for all of us.
The outpouring of sympathy was not only reflected in the assistance provided by the traditional donors but also in a great effort made by countries from all regions. Member states of the OIC contributed generously to assist the Kosovar refugees through assistance in cash and kind as well as the setting up and running of refugee camps. The OIC took several initiatives for the resolution of the conflict through peaceful means. An OIC Ministerial delegation visited a number of capitals to reflect our interest in finding a peaceful solution of the Kosovo crisis.
It is heartening to note that the Kosovars are returning to their homes. The United Nations system faces a major challenge in post conflict Kosovo. The transition from relief to development must be smooth. The international community’s support for Kosovo post conflict reconstruction should be as generous as it was in the emergency phase. The multiplicity of actors in Kosovo require effective coordination. This must be achieved for the benefit of the people of Kosovo. We hope that the experience and generosity of the international community will be replicated in other parts of the world whenever people are suffering in humanitarian crises.
It is essential that the Council, in its overview of United Nations humanitarian activities, should provide guidance to the United Nations system on dealing with humanitarian situations. Such humanitarian situations cause a great deal of human suffering and, therefore, it is essential that the United Nations uses all opportunities to asses its capacity to respond and strengthen it. No where is coordination more critical than in a humanitarian situation when a minutes delay could mean additional loss of life and human suffering.
As for coordination in complex emergencies caused by war or any other armed conflict, we believe that the United Nations must coordinate its activities to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian action through:
- ensuring access to all individuals in need of assistance;
- ensuring increased respect for, adherence to and application of international laws and norms relating to the rights of civilians;
- effective preparedness and planning for emergencies.
The UN must develop standard operating procedures for response. To be effective, it also needs greater financial resources both for such emergency relief as well as development.
In the context of natural disasters, it is obvious that international responses to natural disasters and environmental emergencies requires a “continuing dialogue between major actors in all disaster-prone countries themselves”. Such dialogue can help build capacities for disaster preparedness and emergency response both at the national level as well as among the United Nations system present in the country. The United Nations system should be involved not only in the immediate phase but also in the aftermath of natural disasters to assist disaster hit countries in the recovery programmes of reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Each humanitarian crisis has specific causes and consequences. But most crises arise from one of two courses: one. Political disputes and the of peoples; and two, absense of economic and social development. The United Nations therefore needs to move determined efforts to promote the pacific solution of disputes and conflicts. It also needs to pay a fuller role as the agent for economic and social development in all countries, specially those which are poor and crisis-prone.
I thank you, Mr. President.