Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan on agenda item 70 “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance” in the Plenary of the General Assembly 13 December 2012

Mr. President,

It is my privilege to participate in this important debate. We appreciate the leadership provided by Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos to the international humanitarian effort.

Mr. President,

The Secretary General’s report mentions massive economic damages caused by last year’s natural disasters. As a result of these disasters, now an increasing number of people require humanitarian assistance worldwide. While we cannot control natural disasters, we can reduce their impact and the devastation they cause. This requires an efficient international and national emergency response system capable of handling large scale disasters.

Mr. President,

The recent hurricane Sandy showed the devastating impact of a large scale disaster even in one of the most developed countries in the world. The affected communities took days to come out of the disaster’s immediate impact. Such situations become even more challenging when a natural disaster strikes a developing country. The immediate tasks in the aftermath of such disasters are relief and recovery. In the long term, we have to focus on equally pressing areas of rehabilitation and reconstruction. We have to come up with strategies that would restore and generate jobs and repair damage to environment. Therefore, we agree with Secretary-General’s observation for more investment in building community resilience through disaster risk reduction and for a long-term development oriented process.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has experienced major humanitarian challenges in the last few years which have affected millions of people from north to south, from east to west. Infrastructure, houses, businesses worth billions of dollars were destroyed. The nation of Pakistan faced these challenges with courage, resilience and ingenuity. But we are most grateful to the UN system and the international community for their help and support in responding to these disasters.

Mr. President,

The valuable experience we accumulated because of multiple catastrophes has taught us both self-reliance, as well as ways to work with the international community in a synergetic manner. It has also made us acutely aware of the need to identify gaps and redress deficits in order to respond more effectively to a disaster in the future.

Mr. President,

I take this opportunity to highlight our key observations:

    • We should tap into local resources to save funds and contribute to long-term development.
    • Trust between donors, international humanitarian actors and affected States.
    • Capacity building for domestic preparedness should be enhanced.
    • Accountability of all humanitarian actors especially in the area of delivery on ground should be ensured.
    • Work of humanitarian actors should conform to host country agreements.
    • We need to improve dialogue between OCHA and developing countries, especially those countries that have experienced humanitarian emergencies.
    • Reporting mechanisms of the UN should remain cognizant of the different situations that are not comparable.
    • Politicization of humanitarian relief work should be avoided.
    • Safety and security of humanitarian actors should be ensured.

The humanitarian landscape has changed in the past few years as a result of increasing number of large scale disasters, greater involvement of actors which cannot be strictly termed as humanitarian, greater involvement of global south in humanitarian work, improved disaster preparedness by developing countries, and new assessment tools being developed by OCHA. This requires increased dialogue of Member States specially developing countries with OCHA and also among Member States. In this regard, the Secretary General’s focus on “build a more global, accountable and robust humanitarian system” under his five year agenda including by convening a world humanitarian summit will help provide an opportunity to share knowledge and define way forward for future humanitarian agenda.

I thank you.