Remarks at the UN Economic and Social Council’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 21, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I commend all participants, but especially our co-facilitators Switzerland and Zambia, for their constructive work these past few weeks to ensure we have a path forward on our global humanitarian agenda.

We thank USG Mark Lowcock, and the many humanitarian personnel from the United Nations, international humanitarian organizations, the NGO community, and the governments around the world who respond to humanitarian emergencies, often at great risk to life and limb.

Today, humanitarian needs and displacement remain alarming. More than 68 million people are forcibly displaced around the world and 130 million people are in need of assistance, 90 percent due to armed conflict, including situations where governments have utterly failed or systematically violated their primary responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of their citizens.

The United States remains committed to standing by people in their time of greatest need, be they suffering as a result of conflict, such as in Syria, or surviving and recovering from the impact of natural disasters.

The United States remains a stalwart defender of, and donor to, child and maternal health, life, and well-being in humanitarian emergencies, as well as efforts to prevent and respond to the impacts of sexual and gender-based violence.

We are also proud of our role in championing young people’s access to education in conflict and crisis affected countries. The United States will never waiver on that support.

Yet, as the scale, complexity and gravity of humanitarian crises around the globe continue to grow, particularly in situations of armed conflicts, we must renew our commitment to finding political solutions, bring new partners to the table, and find new solutions to alleviate suffering and promote recovery where humanitarian needs continue to persist. We must also renew our commitment to the respect of international humanitarian law and principles.

In Fiscal Year 2017, the United States remained the world’s largest humanitarian donor and provided more than $8 billion globally in humanitarian assistance. This included a $990 million emergency appropriation to address the unprecedented scale of food insecurity and famine that emerged over the last year and nearly $429 million in health assistance in humanitarian contexts.

As we are all too aware, global humanitarian financing cannot keep pace with the scale of needs. We cannot close the gap by relying solely on the sustained generosity of traditional donors alone.

We all need others to step forward, share the responsibility and increase their share of contributions.

We will continue our efforts to bring new donors to the table, engage the private sector, and provide technical assistance and support to emerging donors as they establish their presence in the humanitarian sphere.

Now, more than ever, efforts to strengthen responses and promote compliance with international laws and norms are needed.

This will require sustained and coordinated efforts across the pillars of our humanitarian, development, political and security work. By drawing on our reach, influence, and subject matter expertise, we work in partnership to forge effective strategies to resolve problems, and advocate at the highest levels to support response operations on the ground, and elevate the needs and voices of the displaced.

This includes efforts to press governments and parties to conflict to uphold other obligations under international law. This also includes our longstanding work to keep the humanitarian consequences of crises such as Yemen, South Sudan, and DRC squarely on the agenda of the Security Council. This is also why we proudly supported the recent adoption of the first-ever resolution on hunger and conflict.

The United States strongly supports ongoing efforts to reform the humanitarian system, including through implementation of the Grand Bargain.

Humanitarian and development actors must also do more to work together as a means of reducing long-term need and assisting those we help to become self-reliant and productive again. It should be the goal of all humanitarian and development actors to work ourselves out of a job.

The United States remains firmly committed to our multifaceted role as a leader in humanitarian diplomacy and action around the world. We will continue to pursue improved coordination and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid for the millions across the globe in need of relief from conflict and other tragedies.

Thank you again for this opportunity to discuss our humanitarian priorities today.