Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 3rd Committee: UNHRC General Debate

New York, 31/10/2019 - 16:05, UNIQUE ID: 191031_18
Statements on behalf of the EU

31 October 2019, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by Mr. Eduardo Fernandez Zincke, Counsellor, Head of Section, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, 74th Session of the General Assembly the Third Committee on Agenda item 61: UNHCR – General Debate

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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.


Mr. Chair,


We are concerned about the continuously rising number of forcibly displaced people, estimated to be over 70.8 million at the end of 2018. While many refugee situations continue to escalate and become more protracted in nature, we are also witnessing new displacement crises, including in our own region, where we continue to see mixed movements of refugees and migrants to Europe.


More importantly, whole countries and regions across the globe remain vulnerable to fragility. This puts a huge strain on the capacity to address the wider ramifications of the refugee crises, further amplified by conflicts, food insecurity and climate change.


Forced displacement is a global phenomenon requiring global solutions, yet it is developing countries that continue to bear the brunt.


The EU and its Member States recognize that we all have a role to play and remain committed to contributing to better systems for protection and solutions for the world's refugees within the EU but also beyond our own borders.  We will do so by continuing to host refugees, and by individual EU Member States considering resettlement and complementary pathways for those in need of international protection. Outside the EU, we will continue supporting countries and communities who host refugees; but also addressing the root causes of forced displacement by playing a full and active role in global conflict resolution, bringing together political, humanitarian and development instruments in an integrated and comprehensive approach. The European Union also continues to support UNHCR's global campaign to eradicate statelessness.


We look forward to this first Global Refugee Forum, as a crucial opportunity to take stock of progress made and share good practices and experiences of comprehensive refugee responses so far, as well as to demonstrate tangible support to ease the burden of refugee hosting countries and mobilize broader global support for burden- and responsibility sharing for refugees. Some EU Member States have already announced their co-convener role, co-sponsorship commitments or pledges and others are still exploring how to contribute and share our different experiences. As for the European Union, I am pleased to announce that we will be a co-sponsor in four of the six focus areas; namely burden- and responsibility sharing, education, jobs and livelihood and solutions, building on the EU policy on forced displacement and development and our significant support to comprehensive and inclusive refugee responses over the past years.


We would like to stress that the application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework has already been a catalyst for change that has generated positive, concrete results for host countries and communities and for refugees themselves.  Inclusive laws, policies and practices have paved the way for better socio-economic inclusion of refugees, including access to documentation, health services, education and the labour market, which in the long run will lead to better outcomes for both refugees and their host communities, while also making refugees better prepared for voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity in their country of origin.


Partnerships are crucial. We therefore encourage UNHCR to continue to build partnerships with other humanitarian aid organizations – and notably UN agencies, - development actors, the private sector, and civil society, as well as strengthen its engagement with host countries, communities and refugees themselves. In this regard, we welcome the growing partnerships with the World Bank which resulted in establishing the Joint Data Centre on Forced Displacement in Copenhagen, and the co-chairing of the Business Innovation Group with World Food Programme which testifies how UNHCR remains a reliable partner in interagency fora.


The EU and its Member States believe that is important to address the full spectrum of forced displacement. This includes internally displaced persons, who can sometimes be more vulnerable than refugees, due to security risks and lack of humanitarian access. To increase international attention and engagement the EU and Member States have called on the UN Secretary-General, together with 29 other States, to establish a High-level Panel on IDPs. We are pleased that the Secretary General has answered the call positively. Properly addressing internal displacement requires a strong collaborative effort by the mandated agencies, with a clear distribution of tasks in line with their respective mandates. UNHCR has an important role to play in the broader humanitarian system, yet its engagement with IDPs has not been as consistent and predictable as its support for refugees.


It is encouraging that the level of funding to UNHCR remains solid with over 3.7 billion USD in fresh contributions in 2019. This signifies a clear recognition of UNHCR’s work. However, the gap between needs and available resources remains high, over 50 percent. In this regard, we believe that UNHCR’s decentralization process can help to increase efficiency and effectiveness. We expect that this process will also strengthen oversight and accountability throughout the organization. In addition, UNHCR must continue to broaden the donor base, expanding funding resources, including from the private sector, in line with the Grand Bargain commitments.


To conclude, let me reiterate our solid support to UNHCR and to the cause of refugee protection. The EU and its Member States are proud to collectively remain one of the largest humanitarian donors, accounting for over one third of the global humanitarian funding this year.


We support the draft resolution on the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees presented by Denmark under this agenda item.

Thank you.

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