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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2013

New Zealand Statement to the Humanitarian Segment of the 68th Session of the General Assembly

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand 12 December 2013

Mr President -

New Zealand extends its deepest sympathy to the families and colleagues of those UN humanitarian personnel who lost their lives, or were injured, in the course of their duties this year. 

We applaud the dedication of all national and international humanitarian personnel working in and with the UN – people who work in dangerous and difficult circumstances, providing support for those in need of humanitarian assistance.

Against the background of the sacrifice of some, and the humanitarian work of many, New Zealand welcomes progress towards enhancing the UN’s security management system, and to managing the risks to which personnel are exposed.

Mr President -

2013 presented us with many highly-publicised and deeply disturbing images of children and adults in appalling humanitarian situations.

But, this has also been a year in which too little media attention has been given to other humanitarian emergencies – all of which expose the complexity of the environments in which humanitarian actors operate. 

Like others, New Zealand is committed to the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence; and believes that, as we form new partnerships with new actors, we must be vigilant in adhering to these principles.

They are essential to ensure timely, secure and unimpeded access to those who most need humanitarian assistance.

We also believe that we - Member States and the UN system - must address gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies, and must ensure that measures are in place to protect the victims and survivors, including through sexual and reproductive health services.

Mr President -

Protection of all people with humanitarian needs is paramount.

Humanitarian actors must be granted access to those in need of assistance without undue delay, and must be permitted to do so free from the threat of being attacked, kidnapped or harassed.

New Zealand particularly deplores the increased targeting of medical personnel. 

Protection of medical professionals is essential to ensuring that necessary - often life-saving - medical attention is provided to the wounded and sick.

New Zealand is pleased that we are today adopting a resolution reaffirming the obligations of States, and parties to an armed conflict, to protect and respect medical personnel, facilities and transports, and to ensure that the wounded and the sick receive the medical attention they require without undue delay.

We also commend the willingness of many States bordering conflict-affected areas to provide safety and assistance to large numbers of people in need.

Mr President -

It is essential that, wherever and whenever possible, we prevent emergencies from occurring, by strengthening the resilience of communities, and building their capacities to deal with shocks.

New Zealand recognises that disaster risk reduction provides the best value for money in mitigating the impact of humanitarian crises, and in reducing the loss of life and livelihoods.

One dollar invested in prevention is estimated to save up to seven dollars in humanitarian response.

The impact of climate change, and the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, highlight the need for closer coordination and collaboration between those working in the humanitarian, development, political and security-related areas.

New Zealand welcomes the focus on the linkages between those aspects, as recognised in the humanitarian resolutions we‘ll be adopting today.

Mr President -

New Zealand supports the Secretary-General’s proposal to hold a World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, and congratulates Turkey in its successful bid to host the Summit.

We look forward to working with others in making humanitarian action fit for the challenges of 2015 and beyond.

We also commend USG Valerie Amos, and her staff, for their impressive efforts to promote a more efficient, faster and better coordinated humanitarian response; and in her leadership of and improvements to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

She has, Mr President, taken up a great task, and we support her in that.

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:15 NZDT