U.S. Statement to the Economic and Social Council’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment

U.S. Statement to the Economic and Social Council’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Delivered by Mark Cassayre, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.

Geneva, Switzerland
June 26, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The United States is pleased to participate in this year’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the Economic and Social Council.  We thank all the participants, but especially our co-facilitators Switzerland and Indonesia, for their continued commitment and leadership in improving effective and efficient humanitarian assistance.  The role of the United Nations, its partners, and other international organizations and NGOs is critical to reaching the most vulnerable people.

We regret that as a body, we are not making more progress during the negotiations leading to this Segment regarding the coordination of assistance for the vast majority of those in need, including Internally Displaced Persons and those impacted by armed conflict. Therefore, we reiterate calls to revisit the frequency of these negotiations. We also stand ready to work with the facilitators, future ECOSOC leadership and other Member States to consider other ways to make improvements to the process in this regard.

Conflict will continue to be the main driver of humanitarian needs, and protracted violence will force people to flee their homes, deny them access to sufficient food, and rob them of their means to make a living.  The average humanitarian crisis now lasts roughly nine years, which requires long-term assistance and advocacy. The United States remains a strong supporter of global humanitarian efforts and is committed to standing by people in their time of greatest need. In Fiscal Year 2018, the United States provided more than $8 billion globally in humanitarian assistance.

The U.S. Government continues to drive effective humanitarian action, including by leading efforts to provide lifesaving assistance to the Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh; responding to drought-affected populations in Southeastern Ethiopia; providing food, water, shelter, improved sanitation, and other critical supplies to those devastated by natural disasters like Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique; and responding to man-made, conflict-driven crises.  We continue to provide assistance to millions of people in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Colombia, and elsewhere.

Likewise, we support efforts to provide health care for women in the humanitarian setting across their lifespan, including critical and life-saving health care for victims of sexual violence, and encourage the UN to do the same. This, however, does not include abortion. The UN should not be in the business of promoting abortion, whether in its humanitarian or development work, and its reports should not advocate for the creation of new human rights regarding sexual and reproductive health. The United States supports efforts toward universal access to health care but rejects efforts to ascribe abortion, falsely, as a human right.

The United States continues to be a leader in pursuing the collective advancement of effective, principled, and accountable humanitarian action. While we are committed to leveraging our resources to respond to humanitarian crises, and to leading in humanitarian diplomacy and as a donor to the global humanitarian system, we also strongly encourage other donors to increase their support commensurate with the vast humanitarian need. The United States is responsible for a disproportionate share of the funds disbursed, not just pledged, in many crisis situations. We need other donors to do more.

We also continue to strongly support humanitarian reform efforts, including through the implementation of the Grand Bargain.  Our efforts to help those in need will become more effective through conducting joint needs-assessments and analyses, engaging with beneficiaries, ensuring transparency and accountability, and reducing duplicative and management costs.  The U.S. Government expects that all UN agencies engaged in humanitarian assistance should make significant advances in each of these areas. We also urge improved collaboration between humanitarian and development actors in crisis-affected and fragile contexts.

We thank you for this opportunity to speak, and we request that this statement be made part of the official record of this meeting.