Press Releases

    16 December 2005

    Secretary-General Describes Approval of Central Emergency Response Fund as Critical Part of Broad Humanitarian Reform

    He Says Process of Providing Aid to Disaster Victims Has for too Long Remained Unacceptably Reactive, Unequal

    NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks upon the General Assembly's endorsement of the Central Emergency Response Fund today, 15 December:

    I am delighted that Member States have approved the Standing Central Emergency Revolving Fund mandated by the Outcome Document of the World Summit.  As a result of this resolution, the upgraded Fund will become known as the Central Emergency Response Fund.  Your action today ensures that in the critical realm of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations will do more, and do it sooner.

    As you, the Member States of the United Nations, know better than anyone, the World Summit Outcome was a very ambitious document and its follow-up is a daunting task.  This was clear from the start, but it was also clear that a bold vision was necessary to prepare the United Nations for the demands of the twenty-first century.  Today, thanks to the efforts of President Eliasson and the entire membership, we celebrate our first success.

    The Central Emergency Revolving Fund has been a critical part of broad humanitarian reform.  As outlined earlier in my report, In Larger Freedom, such reform must provide for more timely and predictable funding, a strengthened humanitarian response capacity, and better field coordination.

    For far too long humanitarian assistance for disaster victims has remained a reactive process.  Relief funds have been sought only after disaster has struck.  Equally unacceptable is the way that different crises are funded unequally, with televised or strategically situated suffering receiving disproportionate attention.  This has meant that all too often, as money trickled in, lives which could and should have been saved were lost.

    That is why I am especially encouraged by the broad General Assembly consensus in favour of this new standing Fund.  I hope that this support will translate into generous and immediate funding.  If it does, it will allow more equitable distribution of relief, based on demonstrated need.  It will also allow us to make emergency grants for rescue work in the aftermath of disasters.  Quite simply, it will save lives.

    Already, at September's Millennium Summit, donor nations have pledged

    $175 million in indicative support for the Fund.  Most of this money has been pledged by European States.  I thank them for their generosity and call on other Member States to contribute no less wholeheartedly.

    For our part, we in the Secretariat will consult with Member States and other stakeholders to work out detailed administrative and management arrangements for the standing Fund.  We promise to manage it with utmost transparency.  We will be accountable, and we shall provide full public disclosure of all donations and expenditures.

    As the President indicated, this will allow the Humanitarian Coordinator and all our humanitarian staff to respond much more quickly, and it will provide essential means they have lacked over the past year as we have seen one crisis after the other.

    I hope that more pieces of the Summit follow-up puzzle will fall into place soon.  In this regard, I look forward to next week's adoption by Member States of the revised draft resolution to establish the Peacebuilding Commission.

    In the meantime, let me congratulate the Assembly on today's historic achievement.

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