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Statement by Ambassador Liu Zhenmin at the 64th Session of the General Assembly under Agenda Item 70 : "Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, including Special Economic Assistance"


Mr. President:

The Chinese delegation thanks you for your introduction. Now I would like to make a few comments under this agenda item.

Mr. President,

(Photographer: Shen Hong/Xinhua News Agency)

According to the Secretary-General’s report, the frequency of natural disasters in the past two years has shown a tendency of decline, but their impact and gravity have remained severe. Due to the global financial and economic crisis, the vast number of developing countries are suffering from multiple wounds of economic backslide, increased vulnerability and insufficient assistance. Their efforts in disaster relief, disaster reduction and preparedness have been seriously challenged by the lack of funds and technology. The current global humanitarian relief situation has become more difficult. How to further enhance the trust and cooperation among all relevant partners, cope with the tension between the increase in demand for global humanitarian assistance and the decrease in resources, genuinely help the developing countries build their capacities for disaster relief and risk reduction, and realize the goal of fast post-disaster recovery and long-term development have become a common task and challenge facing the international humanitarian community.

China believes that the Guiding Principles on humanitarian assistance set out in GA Resolution 46/182 constitute the prerequisite and foundation for effective humanitarian Assistance. Partners in humanitarian relief, in particular, including humanitarian agencies and personnel of the UN, must abide by the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, respect the sovereignty and territory integrity of the affected country, comply with the international humanitarian law and laws of the host country, and respect local culture and traditions, so as to ensure the credibility and smooth implementation of the UN humanitarian relief work. China supports the relevant UN entities in intensifying training for their personnel to ensure the full respect and implementation of the above mentioned Guiding Principles of the humanitarian assistance, and enforce a stricter and more effective accountability system.

Mr. President,

Since the 46th Session of the General Assembly, relevant UN resolutions have been reiterating the importance of helping the developing countries to strengthen their capacity in disaster reduction, preparedness and relief. However, affected countries have seen very limited support for their capacity-building efforts at the national and local levels. Facts have shown that the lack of capacity has become one of the major constraints hampering the effective response by affected countries to humanitarian crises.

China calls upon the international community to set as a priority in humanitarian assistance work helping countries stricken by disasters strengthen their capacity for disaster reduction and relief. The UN system should endeavor to enhance the existing humanitarian response capacity, knowledge and institutions. It should also urge the parties concerned to earnestly fulfill their commitment of transferring disaster relief and reduction technology and expertise to the developing countries, and help the affected countries realize a smooth transition from relief to development. China looks forward to the report to be submitted by the Secretary-General next year to fully reflect the progress made in the area of capacity-building.

Mr. President,

Under the guidance of Under-Secretary General Mr. Holmes, the UN Office of Coordination on Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has played a unique coordinating and guiding role in the area of humanitarian assistance, to which the Chinese delegation expresses its appreciation and support.

China believes that with the deepening of the reform of the UN humanitarian assistance system, the coordinating role of OCHA should be constantly strengthened. China hopes OCHA will make further efforts in the following areass:

1. Endeavor to obtain timely, adequate, flexible and predictable resources for humanitarian assistance;

2. Conduct in-depth studies and make guiding recommendations on ways to help disaster affected countries enhance their capacity to respond to disasters;

3. Take concrete measures to prevent UN humanitarian decision-making and operations from being disturbed by “media visibility” concerns, thus deviating from relevant humanitarian principles and mandates;

4. Maintain both its policy focus on, and resource input to, non-climate-related natural disasters; and

5. Improve staff recruitment to ensure full representation, and help promote communication and mutual trust between OCHA and the developing member states.

Mr. President,

The Group of 77 and China has submitted to the current Session of the General Assembly the draft resolution on “International Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance in the Field of Natural Disasters, from Relief to Development”. The Chinese delegation calls upon all member states to actively engage in the consultation and reach a consensus as early as possible.

Mr. President,

China is a natural-disaster-prone developing country. Disaster reduction, preparedness and emergency relief are perennial arduous tasks facing the governments at all levels in China. While coping with the enormous challenges posed by natural disasters, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to international cooperation in the field of humanitarian assistance. At the request of the governments of the affected countries and upon the appeal of the international community, China is taking an active part in international relief efforts and widely sharing its experience in disaster relief and disaster reduction. China will, as always, continue to support the efforts of the UN system and the international community in the field of disaster risk reduction, preparedness and relief, and do its part in helping relevant affected countries and their people overcome disasters and rebuild their homes.

Thank you, Mr. President
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