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ECOSOC 2018 – Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Statement delivered by Italy at the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the 2018 Session of ECOSOC – Theme: “Restoring Humanity, Respecting Human Dignity and Leaving No-one Behind: Working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability” —


Italy aligns itself to the statement delivered by Bulgaria on behalf of the European Union and wishes to add the following remarks in its national capacity.

Protracted crisis, urban need, fragility, as well as long-lasting and cyclical natural disasters – exacerbated by climate change- require collective action, which is the only possible way to tackle global challenges in an effective way. A sustained response to the needs of vulnerable populations require coherence and coordination among all humanitarian stakeholders, as well as a comprehensive and joint needs assessment, based on national and local ownership. Italy fully supports an holistic, results-based and person-centered approach in humanitarian action.

Today, particular attention must be paid to the protection of the most vulnerable categories in emergency situations (minors, persons with disabilities, the elderly, women) by ensuring that each of them is suitable for prevention and protection of their specific needs and may takes an active role in the humanitarian response.

Italy stands ready to defend the “spirit of Solferino”, promoting the endorsement and respect of international humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The protection must be ensured not only of people, but also of civilian premises, such as schools and medical facilities: attacks to such facilities are against the International Humanitarian Law and the responsible of such actions must be held accountable. Moreover Italy supports mine action, which is an imperative need in many conflict and post-conflict situations.

Humanitarian access is still one of the most delicate topics on the international agenda, having a crucial impact on the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. Italy recalls that humanitarian access is an obligation under International Humanitarian law.

Today about 71 million people around the world are forced to leave their home and flee from violence and poverty. A greater effort is needed to address this phenomenon through short –term actions, which combine security and solidarity, and a long – term vision to address the root -causes of displacement. Italy promotes an approach based on common and shared responsibilities and looks at Africa as a real partner for economic cooperation and an ally in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

We all know that sustaining rather than initiating a recovery process, facilitating the transition from relief to development in the aftermath of a conflict or of a large-scale natural disaster are of utmost importance. We are strengthening inter-linkages between development and humanitarian tools enhancing our capacity to tackle root causes of crises and to link relief and rehabilitation to development. We are committed to strengthening the link between relief, rehabilitation and development and to implementing humanitarian action and development cooperation in a more coherent and complementary way, while upholding the humanitarian principles in accordance with international law. Recovery and rehabilitation depend on the beneficiary Countries, as well as donors and international actors as UN to bring capacities and resources to a level of efficiency.

Since 2016, Italy has started a reorganization process assigning a development portfolio to the Office in charge of humanitarian response. Thanks to this new configuration, in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, Italy can launch response initiatives using both humanitarian and development instruments and can use development funds to implement programs bridging humanitarian aid and development cooperation. Moreover, Italy has extended the duration of the humanitarian interventions up to 24 month and the maximum budget allowed up to 1,8 Million Euros. We will further continue our engagement: we are planning to draft specific guidelines on the humanitarian development nexus and to introduce markers to verify the coordination between humanitarian aid and development programs.

For the coming years, our priority will be represented by the extension in the protection of people affected by crises throughout a much more integrated approach, involving governmental and non-governmental actors together with aid beneficiaries. Hence, our country firmly supports all initiatives that are aimed at promoting a broader inclusiveness by improving the response capacity as well as the risk prevention of the crises. It is in this context that we are implementing the commitment taken in Istanbul to go “as local as possible” in the humanitarian response through direct funding to local NGOs. The empowerment of local responders is in our view critical in improving efficiency.

Having this in mind, Italy revised its procedures to allow local civil society organizations that have previously had a funding relationship with Italian civil society organizations (CSOs) to submit funding applications directly to the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in 2016: in 2017, three local NGOs in Lebanon and Palestine moved to a direct funding relationship with the Italian government. In this respect, we are aware that more needs to be done to support local responders: we are therefore planning to further simplify our procedures in order support their participation.

Moreover, while increasing our budget for humanitarian aid in the last years, we welcome innovative funding mechanisms created to encourage social investment from the private sector, such as the Humanitarian Impact Bond, to which Italy is committed up to 3 Million euro.

We all know that humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for political solutions. And we need to focus more and more on the prevention and political solution of conflicts. In this respect, we cannot forget the fundamental role that women play in peacebuilding and stabilization processes. As Nelson Mandela said, “ peace is the greatest weapon for development that any person can have.”