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Statement by Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Substantive Session of 2002 (Humanitarian Affairs Segment), New York, 15 July 2002

Speeches and statements

Statement by Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Substantive Session of 2002 (Humanitarian Affairs Segment), New York, 15 July 2002

15 July 2002
Co-ordination within the UN familyThe transition from relief to developmentInternally Displaced PersonsHumanitarian Co-ordinatorsThe Consolidated Appeal Process

(Check against delivery)

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

I will limit my remarks to five issues: first, co-ordination within the UN family on issues relating to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and achieving sustainable peace; second, co-ordination with UNDP and UNDG in the transition from relief to development; third, clarifying where and to what extent UNHCR provides support to IDPs; fourth, Humanitarian Co-ordinators; and fifth, the Consolidated Appeal Process.

Co-ordination within the UN family

Close co-ordination with DPA and DPKO is key for UNHCR. Recent peace-building operations in places like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan have seen an increasing trend of bringing together political, military, humanitarian and development actors in order to address crisis situations in a comprehensive and integrated way. With its extensive field presence, UNHCR often works in partnership with DPA and DPKO in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and on activities aimed at ensuring sustainable peace.

In striving to find durable solutions for refugees, UNHCR's work also increasingly involves co-operation not only with the UN political and peace and security pillars (DPA and DPKO) but also with its development pillar (UNDP and UNDG). Making the return of refugees to countries of origin sustainable requires sound post-conflict policies. We will therefore expand our co-operation with DPA and DPKO, and forge policies which jointly address issues of common interest. Indeed, with a presence in many insecure and volatile regions, UNHCR is well placed to make more proactive contributions to early warning and prevention.

In terms of refugee security, and particularly in separating armed elements from refugees and putting into practice the "Ladder of Options" concept, DPKO is a key partner for UNHCR.

In addressing staff security issues, there is a need for strengthened co-operation with UNSECOORD, and for a continued joint effort to get UNSECOORD paid out of the UN regular budget.

The transition from relief to development

Afghanistan has once again shown that there is still a need to find a more effective way to address the transition from emergency relief and longer-term development. To achieve this, I believe we need to come up with an innovative approach which is neither characterized as "humanitarian" nor "development", but which is sui generis.

In post-conflict situations, the World Bank, UNDP and the international community have already come up with an innovative approach for addressing the issue of ex-combatants. This approach, which has received considerable support, is now commonly known as "DDRR": "Demilitarization, Demobilization, Reintegration and Rehabilitation". Ensuring that refugee returns are sustainable is also vital in post-conflict situations, and I have therefore proposed the concept of the "Four Rs": Repatriation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

Similarly, in cases where local integration of refugees in countries of first asylum is a viable option, I have proposed the concept of "Development through Local Integration". The idea here is that rather than seeing refugees as a burden, host governments and the international community should recognize that refugees can be agents of development. As we are seeing in a new initiative in Zambia, developing refugee-populated areas and using the productive capacity of refugees can bring benefits both for the local society and for the refugees themselves.

From a UN perspective, I have come to the conclusion that neither the World Bank, UNDP nor UNHCR can deliver the necessary results on their own. Given their respective organizational structures, I have therefore proposed joint ventures, on a country-by-country basis. The next step is to work on concrete programmes. UNHCR has initially identified eight possible flagship programmes and we will start to focus on the most promising of these. Some of my field Representatives are already exploring the scope for joint ventures with UNDP and the World Bank in their respective countries.

Internally Displaced Persons

In recent years, the UN system has sought to strengthen its response to internal displacement through an inter-agency collaborative approach. While some progress has been made in terms of co-ordination, we all still see a lack of predictability and consistency. No single UN agency can be counted upon to respond automatically when there is a crisis involving massive internal displacement.

UNHCR's policy on involvement with internally displaced persons has been clearly communicated to its partners, and has been endorsed by the General Assembly. By being more predictable in responding to specific IDP situations, UNHCR can help to ensure a better overall UN response. I intend, therefore, to inform the Secretary-General and the Emergency Relief Co-ordinator of those situations where UNHCR already has a substantial role in supporting IDPs, and where my Office is likely to be playing a significant role in the future. We will provide this information in the middle of each year, as soon as the Annual Budget for the next year has been finalized. We will also provide information on any Supplementary Programmes added during the year.

Humanitarian Co-ordinators

As many governments and humanitarian agencies have pointed out, good co-ordination depends on strong leadership on the ground. In this regard, it is clear that the Humanitarian Co-ordinator system needs to be strengthened. I believe that in situations where there are large humanitarian operations and where a particular UN agency has a significant presence in a country, the Representative of that agency should be available to be the Humanitarian Co-ordinator. UNHCR will indicate its availability in a timely manner, country by country.

The Consolidated Appeal Process

I support ongoing efforts to strengthen the Consolidated Appeal Process. However, I have two worries:

First, UNHCR should not be seen as a purely humanitarian agency, as its work is not limited to short term emergency relief programmes. I mentioned UNHCR's combined efforts with UNDP and UNDG to find durable solutions for refugees and IDPs, as a way of contributing to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and sustainable peace. This requires a comprehensive and true reflection of all UNHCR's needs in the CAPs. Indeed, as mentioned in the draft resolution of the Humanitarian Segment, it is important to ensure that the Consolidated Appeals contain adequate plans to unite relief and transitional programmes, including in the area of resource mobilization.

Second, we must ensure that the UN's investment in joint planning is matched by greater financial support from donors. Good planning does not mean much if the plans cannot be implemented. I would welcome greater involvement by the donors in the CAP process, both assessing needs and following up to ensure that these needs are met.

Finally, I would like to stress the importance of regional approaches to humanitarian crises, and the vital role of regional organizations and initiatives, of which the new African Union and NEPAD offer prime examples. For UNHCR, in addressing complex cross-border population movements, regional responses are essential.

Thank you.