General Assembly Adopts Five Humanitarian Aid Resolutions, as Delegates Debate Strategies for Responding to COVID-19, Conflict, Climate Change Crises

Alexandra Brosnan
Humanitarian Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 10, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States is pleased to cosponsor the humanitarian omnibus, safety and security, natural disasters, and the Argentinian White Helmets resolutions and reaffirms the vital function of the United Nations in responding to humanitarian needs around the globe.

We remain deeply concerned by the unprecedented rise in humanitarian needs. Last week, the UN released the Global Humanitarian Overview for 2022. The figures are stark and sadly engender a sense of déjà vu. More than a quarter of a billion people are expected to need humanitarian assistance and protection, a significant increase from a year ago, which was already the highest figure in decades.

This year to date, donors have given almost $18 billion to humanitarian plans. This is very generous, but it amounts to less than half of the plans’ financial requirements, and we can, and must, do more.

The United States remains the largest single humanitarian donor, giving nearly $13 billion in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2021. Earlier this week we also announced our intent to contribute to the Central Emergency Relief Fund in 2022.

We continue to play our part in countering the pandemic and prioritizing global health security. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Government has appropriated more than $16.2 billion to emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance to help governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations fight the pandemic. This funding is helping to save lives in over 120 countries. We call on all our fellow Member States to join us in this solemn commitment by doing their share in supporting humanitarian response.

As USAID Administrator Samantha Power has emphasized, while more funding from donors is urgently needed, a new approach is essential if we are going to go beyond the all too familiar calls for more resources, adapt to today’s changing humanitarian landscape, and more effectively and efficiently alleviate suffering and address root causes. Our approach must enhance humanitarian diplomacy.

Conflicts account for over 80 percent of global humanitarian needs. The often protracted battles in areas such as Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Afghanistan overwhelmingly drive humanitarian needs.

The parties in fragile or conflict-affected areas too often fail to meet the needs of people and choose violence over peace or respecting human rights and pluralism. The answer to those conflicts is political.

As President Biden has said, we must engage in relentless diplomacy–

we need to engage more effectively in diplomatic negotiations regionally, at the UN, and bilaterally to bring parties together and end conflicts. We must continue encouraging all parties to conflict and our partners to support UN-led inclusive peace processes.

The appointments of U.S. Special Envoys West, Lenderking, Feltman, and acting Special Envoy Goldrich demonstrate our commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and Syria.

The United States remains concerned over the continued obstruction of humanitarian access by parties to conflict, attacks on humanitarian workers, and other forms of interference that hinder them from reaching those in need, including in Ethiopia, Yemen, and Syria. We must support using all tools available to promote accountability, consistent with international law, for those responsible for unlawful attacks on medical and humanitarian personnel. Maintaining the safety of humanitarian personnel and unhindered humanitarian access is critical to keeping people alive.

The United States is proud to co-sponsor the resolution on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and the protection of United Nations personnel. This resolution sends an important message of solidarity to the many courageous people who risk their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance to millions of people across the world. We also recognize and support the vital role of local humanitarian actors, who risk their lives on the frontlines of humanitarian crises to bring lifesaving aid, often in the most dangerous and hard-to-reach environments.

The United States is also proud to co-sponsor the resolutions under consideration today focusing on coordination of humanitarian assistance, the Argentinian White Helmets, and natural disasters. These resolutions rightly emphasize the importance of partnerships in enhancing our collective response to humanitarian crises. We must more effectively address obstacles that hinder us from scaling up partnerships vital to expanding humanitarian access and ending conflicts. This includes strengthening partnerships with multilateral and regional financial institutions.

We cannot continue to allow the burdens and risks of dealing with the fallout of conflicts to fall almost entirely to humanitarian organizations. In many crises, humanitarian organizations are not only providing life-saving humanitarian assistance – they are also having to compensate for broken health systems and social safety nets. As Secretary General Guterres has underscored, we must continue to better align humanitarian, development, and peace efforts to achieve shared goals and make our foreign aid dollars stretch further and reach more people in need.

A key component of humanitarian work is to protect and assist people in crisis. However, both humanitarian institutions and States have fallen short in preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

We must prioritize and strengthen our collective efforts to implement prevention and risk mitigation strategies, support survivors, enhance reporting mechanisms, and ensure that perpetrators face the full measure of accountability for sexual exploitation, harassment, and abuse of their positions of power. The United States takes this responsibility, and these objectives, very seriously.

The United States takes this opportunity to reaffirm that resolutions are non-binding documents that do not create or affect rights or obligations under international law. Regarding our position on the Sendai Framework and technology transfer, we refer you to our general statements delivered on November 5 and 18, 2021, to the 76th General Assembly Third and Second Committee sessions, respectively.

Finally, the United States will continue to work towards significant progress on advancing management reforms across UN agencies that enhance efficiency, performance, and accountability to improve humanitarian outcomes for affected populations. With the number and severity of complex humanitarian crises outpacing global capacity to respond, the U.S. Government also seeks significantly improved coordination within the humanitarian system, joint needs assessments and joint analyses that inform and improve prioritized humanitarian response plans and appeals. The U.S. Government expects that all UN agencies engaged in humanitarian assistance should make significant advances in each of these areas.

The United States is unequivocally committed to humanitarianism, multilateralism, international cooperation, and ensuring assistance reaches those most in need, including vulnerable populations impacted by conflict, climate crisis, and COVID-19.

Thank you for this opportunity to share our priorities, and we request that this statement be made part of the official record of this meeting.