Human Rights & Democracy

EU work and international cooperation to meet humanitarian needs

19/08/2016 - 15:50
News stories

Spotlight on: EU work and international cooperation to meet humanitarian needs. On the occasion of the World Humanitarian Day on 19 August

On World Humanitarian Day, we honour the selfless dedication and sacrifice of workers and volunteers from around the world who devote themselves – often at great personal risk – to assisting the world’s most vulnerable people.

The Day also seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs.

Our work here in Vienna is a good example of how international cooperation can contribute to addressing some of the fundamental humanitarian needs and the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been adopted at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit in New York in September 2015.

The new goals cover poverty, hunger, human health, clean water, affordable and clean energy, industry and innovation, and climate change, to name just a few.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 2015 "Atoms for Peace and Development" initiative emphases the IAEA's work on the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology and aims at helping the international community with the achievement of the above-mentioned goals, for instance through applying nuclear techniques to

  • provide people with more, better and safer food and other agricultural products, while sustaining the natural resources base
  • involve the diagnostic and therapeutic administration of radiation for medical purposes, thus also playing an important role in all human health issues
  • control Aedes mosquitoes as vectors of human pathogens, particularly Zika virus
  • use of isotope hydrology in the developing Member States for water resources development and management.

All EU Member States are members of the IAEA. Together with the contributions from its Member States, the EU is one of the principal supporters of the IAEA financially, and is the second largest donor to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund. The EU supports the IAEA financially through a number of financial instruments, amounting to a total of €119 provided during 2007-2016.

Another International Organisation based in Vienna is the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) which aims to eradicate poverty through inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID). The enormous potential of ISID to deliver upon the multi-dimensional aspirations of development has also been recognized by SDG number 9: “Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization and Foster Innovation”.

Since 1993 the participates in all major governance meetings and negotiates on behalf of the EU and its member States. UNIDO manages around 700 ongoing projects at a total value of around €1/2 billion, of which €140 million are financed by the EU and €20 million by its Member States. Up to date, around 100 UNIDO projects have been financed with EU funds.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helps States address threats to security and justice posed by illicit drugs, transnational organized crime, piracy, terrorism and corruption. By promoting the rule of law globally, UNODC helps to build accountable and effective institutions and inclusive political processes which are key elements for peaceful and stable societies, and thus contributes to the achievement of SDG number 16 - 'Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

UNODC further contributes to SDG 3 through promoting the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

The European Union is a long-standing supporter of UNODC projects and programmes, with currently 24 EU-funded projects worth €185 million, making the EU and its Member States together the by far largest donors to the UNODC. The projects are focused on the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against organised crime and corruption, alternative development, prison reform, criminal justice system reform, law enforcement capacity-building. The EU also aims at fostering information exchange by organizing side events on human trafficking and other humanitarian issues.

Read more about EU work in the field of combatting human trafficking,trafficking of illicit drugs and corruption, and the flagship European Union cooperation programme in the field of drugs policies with Latin America (COPOLAD).

The European Union is firmly committed to promoting global respect and compliance with International Humanitarian Law, together with the principles that guide humanitarian action – humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Learn more about these humanitarian principles and EU aid in this video animation.

More background information and information on how the European Commission is supporting World Humanitarian Day 2016 can be found here.

More on EU development policy:

The European Commission has launched an open public consultation on the future of EU development policy to inform a future revision of the European Consensus on Development. The Commission would like to gather views from a wide range of stakeholders on how EU development policy might respond to the 2030 Agenda, to other important related international commitments and key global trends, to help inform the development of a revised European Consensus on Development.  An open, internet-based public consultation will run until 21 August 2016. All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. Read more about this public consultation and learn how you can participate.

The European Development Days (EDD) are Europe's leading forum on development and international cooperation. Organised by the European Commission, the forum brings the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences on new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Read more about this year's European Development Days.