Remarks on behalf of the European Union –
ECOSOC HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS SEGMENT
Substantive Session 2007
Geneva, 13 July 2007
‘The Transition from Relief to Development’
The EU recognizes that engaging in the topic of transition from relief to development is urgent and an ongoing challenge for the international community.
Allow me to make a couple of general remarks before I briefly address the cases of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Decisions concerning relief and development assistance differ in many aspects and are based on different criteria, with survival being the focus in the humanitarian phase, peacebuilding or reconstruction in the transition phase and the MDGs and National Strategies being central to the development phase. As such, the EU fully supports the privileged position of the UN to deal with this issue, not only given the fact that the Organization is a major player in these fields, but also on the basis of its comparative advantage in post-conflict situations. The EU urges the UN system to fulfill its role as the coordinator of the international community and to intensify efforts regarding inter-agency collaboration, the simplification and harmonization of administrative procedures and funding structures, all of which are of particular importance in the context of transition from relief to development.
The EU is very engaged in humanitarian reform and the transition from relief to development, both of which have recently been addressed in the High Level Panel Report on System-wide coherence and the ensuing discussions. We consider, for example, that one of the possible approaches for handling the transition period is through the use of cluster leads which can improve overall coordination both at headquarters and in the field. The cluster system can be used to ensure additional capacity response in all areas, including internal displacement.
Partnerships and Ownership
Cooperation with the Bretton Woods Institutions is also essential in transition and preparedness efforts and the EU welcomes recent strengthened collaboration between the UN and the World Bank. We encourage them to continue to deepen this collaboration. Equally important is the collaboration with regional organizations. In addition, the role of NGOs, the Red Cross and Crescent family, civil society and the private sector must be better acknowledged. Synergies between all relevant humanitarian and development actors are an essential element in facilitating the transition from emergency relief to long-term sustained development.
All these actors and measures are valuable, but their effectiveness may prove to be weak without proper commitment and sense of ownership of the affected countries. Each transition process is unique and as such, the EU encourages better use of local knowledge, skills, expertise and materials when responding to crises. Beneficiaries must be engaged throughout the process, including in the planning and implementation of recovery programmes.
Risk-reduction strategies and Funding
The EU also attributes great importance to planning and prevention, namely disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention. In this regard, we would like to emphasize that the prevention of and recovery from crises are interlinked. For natural disasters, we stress the importance of the Hyogo Framework for Action and its effective implementation as well as the comprehensive approach of the Global Facility on Disaster Reduction and Recovery. We also welcome the increased emphasis on crises prevention and recovery in the Strategic Plan of UNDP. We encourage UNDP to define further in the Strategic Plan how they will coordinate the system as early recovery cluster lead and as coordinator of donor activities. We believe that disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention need to be included in the early phases of recovery efforts and, with this in mind, welcome close collaboration between Member States and the UN, in particular with UNDP, the Resident Coordinator and with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat.
The EU stresses the importance of the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction, which held its first meeting last month here in Geneva and which constitutes the main global forum of the strengthened ISDR system, working as a medium for experience sharing, advocacy, progress reporting and identification of gaps and challenges for the ISDR system, among others. The Global Platform noted the importance of linking actions to reduce the risks from natural disasters to measures to adapt to climate change. Another point to make is that recovery should also be guided by the possibility of "building back better”, as was evident during the response to the tsunami disaster.
Funding for recovery efforts and transition situations must also be secured. The EU, as collectively the largest contributor of humanitarian and development aid, is a firm believer that donors must improve performance so as to effectively address the ‘transition gap’ where the challenge is to ensure different financing instruments dovetail adequately between the humanitarian and reconstruction and development phases. The various resource mobilization instruments that are available to the UN system, such as CAPs, donor conferences, the UNDP Thematic Trust Fund for Crises Prevention and Recovery, the Peacebuilding Fund, among others, can certainly play an important role in this respect.
Panel session 1: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Turning now to the DRC, we recognize that the country has made remarkable progress. Landmark presidential and parliamentary elections were held last year, but we are all aware that consolidation of democracy is an ongoing process, as is the transition from relief to development.
The international community has already invested heavily in the DRC, demonstrated most prominently by the first European Union military peace operation under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. Other initiatives include the willingness of international financial institutions and foreign governments to virtually wipe out the DRC’s foreign debt.
African institutions are also playing a significant role, especially the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), together with the personal engagement of key African leaders.
There are still remaining concerns, however, regarding security sector reform, respect for the rule of law, human rights issues, impunity and response to existing humanitarian needs.
We must ensure that transition in the DRC continues to be supported, not only through political engagement but also through sustained financial contributions.
I will address the situation of Burundi at the subsequent panel session, but for now I have some questions on the DRC: 1) Sierra Leone and Mozambique have offered useful examples of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. Although each situation possesses its own specific complexities, to what extent do you think the DRC could benefit from exploring the experiences of those countries?; 2) Louise Arbour (High Commissioner for Human Rights) was recently quoted as saying she was appalled by the level of sexual and gender-based violence she found in Africa’s Great Lakes region, particularly in the DRC and Burundi. What can be done by the international community to further address this issue? Additionally, how can the issue of violence against women be incorporated in the transition from relief to development agenda, including in the context of implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”?
Panel Session 2: Burundi
On Burundi, we welcome and count on efforts from all stakeholders involved in peacebuilding and in the transitional stage from relief to development.
The EU considers the Peacebuilding Commission to be an important new forum to support post-conflict countries. We welcome the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi which was endorsed in June and which seeks to contribute to the improvement of conditions in the country by focusing on activities that are crucial for peace consolidation. We consider this an important milestone for the PBC and look forward to further work in defining areas of its added-value. We will also wait for further information on how we will monitor the mutual commitments of the government and all its partners in delivering the Strategic Framework on the ground.
It is crucial that all peacebuilding stakeholders, including the government, civil society, the private sector, the UN agencies and international partners, work in partnership, if transition is to prove successful and sustainable peace to follow. In this regard, the EU also applauds the regional initiatives undertaken by the Great Lakes and their neighbours.
Despite notable progress, the country still faces a number of internal challenges which could threaten stability, peace and growth. It is important these don’t jeopardize the transition process. Good governance, strengthening the rule of law within security forces, justice, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation and the fight against impunity, as well as the land issue, notably in the context of the reintegration of affected populations will all be key issues to address if there is to be true and lasting peace.
I would like to conclude with two questions on Burundi: 1) In the Panel’s opinion, how can momentum be maintained in order to guarantee a successful transition process?; 2) How is the UN through its Integrated Office supporting the Government of Burundi and what are the challenges going forward?