United Nations General Assembly: Humanitarian Debate

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Chargé d’affaires a.i., H.E. Mr. Justin Fepuleai.

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Greetings to you all.

Mr President,

When New Zealand last made a statement in the humanitarian debate of the General Assembly, we lamented the rise in global humanitarian needs, the toll that conflict was having on civilians, and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

Regrettably little has changed. Humanitarian needs are greater than ever. They continue to be driven by a lack of political will to prevent and end armed conflicts, and a lack of respect for the rules of war expressly designed to limit human suffering.

COVID-19 continues to exacerbate the global humanitarian situation. It has forced humanitarian actors to find innovative approaches to responses, and to further localisation. We must not lose sight of these advances, and continue to innovate and to strengthen anticipatory action to save lives.

The increase in food insecurity this year is deeply worrying. That 142 million people are facing food crises should motivate us all to uphold human dignity, find political solutions to conflict, and commit to lasting, inclusive peace.

In ongoing armed conflicts we see devastating impacts from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. At all times, measures must be taken to avoid incidental harm to civilians. If the risk to civilians cannot be sufficiently mitigated, then use of such weapons in towns and cities must be avoided.

New Zealand remains deeply concerned by the continuous disregard for the legal protections afforded to humanitarian personnel, including medical workers. We strongly condemn all acts of violence, attacks and threats against humanitarian personnel and attacks on hospitals and health facilities.

Climate change also continues to be a humanitarian issue, driving the increase in global need.

As an island nation in the Pacific, New Zealand is acutely aware of the threat of climate change. For the Pacific, the impacts are being felt right now, from rising seas, to greater intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as cyclones, flooding and drought.

We should not only be measured by how we respond to the impacts of climate change, but by how sincerely we tackle its root causes. That is why New Zealand champions the Paris Agreement’s objective for the world to become carbon neutral in the second half of this century.

New Zealand continues to stress that the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls in humanitarian settings must be upheld in humanitarian crises.

All people, including those in humanitarian settings, have the right to sexual and reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive healthcare must be available from the onset of a crisis.

New Zealand strongly advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls in all their diversity because without it, gender equality and women’s empowerment simply cannot be achieved.

We also stress the need for the involvement of people with disabilities in humanitarian decision-making processes. In particular, we point to the role of women and youth with disabilities, and the need to strengthen opportunities for them to exercise leadership and decision-making capabilities.

The global humanitarian outlook for 2022 is bleak, with more people than ever in need of life-saving assistance. The humanitarian system must continue to evolve and innovate to remain relevant, strengthen effectiveness, and deliver for people in vulnerable situations. We owe it to those affected by conflict and disaster to collectively deliver on our shared commitment to humanity and sustainable peace.

Thank you.


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