Thank you Chair,
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union as a donor.
We welcome the Report on UNHCR’s Global Strategic Priorities that outlines the progress made in 2019. We understand that with only around half of the needs-based UNHCR budget covered by resources, priority setting is critical. Transparency of the criteria and their respect, a clear focus on the most vulnerable, as well as strong monitoring and oversight are indispensable to obtain large donor support. We therefore welcome the efforts of UNHCR to reorganize its operations in line with the priorities of the Global Refugee Compact and regionalize its structures for greater efficiency. In particular, we welcome UNHCR’s continuous engagement to strengthen registration activities and reinforce data management and analysis, including with the Joint Data Centre of Copenhagen with the World Bank. We appreciate that UNHCR’s identity management capacity has expanded compared to 2018. However, we regret that no concrete results have been achieved on the interoperability of systems and databases of other humanitarian actors, including UNICEF and WFP. This is a key element for efficient and effective support. We would therefore appreciate more information from UNHCR on the concrete steps that will be taken to achieve tangible progress in 2020.
We welcome the efforts made to scale up cash-based assistance programmes, which are instrumental for inclusive support to refugees and other people of concern and a tool to improve the efficiency of aid. In this respect, we appreciate the joint commitment by UNHCR, OCHA, UNICEF and WFP to increase the use of common cash systems and the launch of the UNHCR/UNICEF/WFP “Guidance for collaborative procurement for humanitarian cash transfers”.
In line with the Global Compact on Refugees and the World Humanitarian Summit commitments, we encourage UNHCR to continue efforts to work in partnership with a broad range of humanitarian, development and private sector actors to operationalize the humanitarian-development nexus and bring positive change for people in need. We note that especially with regards to reporting on basic needs and services, the CRRF principles call for a greater understanding of achievements relative to the SDG indicators and to the situation of host communities. Similarly, we would welcome more information on UNHCR’s work in promoting key development enablers, such as freedom of movement, access to the labor market. In this sense, we look forward to seeing how pledges and commitments made at the Global Refugee Forum will translate into concrete actions on the ground. We welcome the launch and development of the three Support Platforms as we recognize that these frameworks are crucial to reinforce and support existing regional refugee responses.
We note with concern that expanding opportunities for durable solutions remains a challenge and we encourage UNHCR to continue supporting sustainable return and reintegration, while respecting the principle of non-refoulement, local integration and resettlement in third countries. We count on UNHCR as the mandated protection agency to assist return movements of refugees only when essential conditions are met and in line with international legal frameworks.
We welcome ongoing reflection on UNHCR’s new Results-based Management and are looking forward to exchanges with its membership, including on an aggregated reporting system and results indicators. We also welcome inclusion not just of progress indicators but also of a system that can highlight reversals and negative outcomes. We encourage UNHCR to design strategic multi-year planning based on strategic priorities and programming at country level. This would allow building new system with concepts and processes already used widely within the UN family.
We welcome UNHCR’s efforts to improve its financial and administrative systems by revising its policies as well the progress made in terms of transparency. Transparency is key to increase donor confidence that operations are implemented with the adequate degree of care, efficiency and diligence.
Last but not least, we encourage UNHCR to continue strengthening a people-centered needs assessment and resulting prioritization. The interests of the population need to remain at the core pillar of any response and proper joint prioritization will further enhance efficiency in the global resource-constraint environment.