Strenghtening the Coordination of the United Nations Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance Action – UN General Assembly 2019 Resolutions

Between 16 and 19 December 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted four resolutions focused on strengthening the coordination of UN humanitarian and disaster relief assistance actions.

These are Resolution 74/118 on ‘Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations’;  Resolution 74/115 on ‘International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development’;  Resolution 74/218 on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’;  and Resolution 74/114 on ‘Persistent legacy of the Chernobyl disaster’.

In Resolution 74/118, the General Assembly reaffirms the importance of upholding international law and humanitarian principles in States’ humanitarian response activities and welcomes member States’ and regional organizations’ efforts in implementing the Guidelines for the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance (IDRL Guidelines).

Resolution 74/115 acknowledges the connection between emergency response, rehabilitation and development and reaffirms that, in order to ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should be able to support short and medium-term recovery as a step towards long-term, sustainable development. In this respect, the document also focuses on climate change, emphasizing the need to increase effective prevention of natural disasters related to the adverse effects of climate change. States are thus encouraged to sign, ratify or implement key international instruments, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations.

Resolution 74/218, based on the related report by the UNGA Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee), recognises the need for a broader and a more people-centred preventive approach to disaster risk and urges States to implement disaster risk reduction practices that are multi-hazard, multisectoral, accessible and inclusive. The resolution further acknowledges that climate change is one of the drivers of disaster risk, and emphasizes the need to strengthen coordination between disaster and health risk management systems as far as biological hazards are concerned.

Finally, resolution 74/114, adopted on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, stresses the need to continue the environmental and health monitoring of the affected areas and requests the President of the General Assembly to convene a commemorative meeting on 26 April 2021.