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UNICEF Executive Board

Executive Board welcomes efforts by UNICEF to better link humanitarian and development programming

© UNICEF video


NEW YORK, United States of America, 6 February 2019 – The UNICEF Executive Board opened its first regular session of 2019 yesterday, with Executive Board President H.E. Mr. Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed, the Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations, chairing the proceedings.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Mohamed stated that the humanitarian-development continuum is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Despite enormous global progress, extreme poverty, humanitarian emergencies and climate change persist as threats to the safety of the world’s children and expose them to new risks,” he said.

Today, the number of countries with violent conflicts is the highest it has been in 30 years, and one in four children across the globe lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster.

Delivered in partnership with others, UNICEF humanitarian programmes provide millions of children in emergency settings with a range of services to address their urgent needs.

The organization also works, through its development interventions, to reduce their long-term vulnerabilities and risks and to build resilience among children and communities.

“This [work] includes planting the seeds of development into our humanitarian responses, as we are doing with our cash transfer programmes for children and their families in countries like Yemen, Lebanon, Nepal and Mauritania,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore.

“And it includes our work to help strengthen school buildings and other infrastructure so they can withstand natural disasters like hurricanes in the Philippines, earthquakes in Chile and floods in Bangladesh,” she continued.

© UNICEF/UN0276542/Htet
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore meets with children from the Thet Kel Pyin Muslim Internally Displaced Persons camp in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, on a visit to Myanmar in January 2019. Tin Tin Aye is two and a half years old.

Common agendas for a common good

Still, aligning humanitarian and developments efforts to ensure they reinforce each other effectively presents challenges.

The UNICEF Board is strengthening its governance through efforts to improve its working methods. Its oversight role has also been reinforced through the fulfilment by UNICEF of the Board’s requests to provide more frequent and analytical reporting, such as through the annual report on humanitarian action (which has been presented to the Board starting from the 2018 annual session); through informal briefings and consultations on humanitarian-related issues; and through the presentation of timely and relevant evaluation reports. The Board also receives regular UNICEF programmatic updates through the annual report of the Executive Director, the annual report on the implementation of the Gender Action Plan and through new country programme documents that are presented for its approval.

Laying out plans for the continued promotion of harmonization and coordination with other Executive Boards, particularly on joint matters and streamlined processes, Ambassador Mohamed urged Board members to drive common agendas for a common good. 

His remarks come on the heels of wider United Nations reform efforts to enhance effectiveness, efficiency and accountability and recent actions by UNICEF to implement relevant reforms in line with General Assembly resolution 72/279 (which the Board was updated on during the first day of the session).

“The Secretary-General’s reform...is the most comprehensive transformation of the United Nations Development System in decades – and bodes well for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda,” he said. “These efforts should resonate in our work as a Board.”

“We have the opportunity and authority to bring about change,” he added. “Let us not squander it.”

© UNICEF/UN0188089/Abdulhaleem
Children displaced by conflict in Taiz look out on Aden City, Yemen. Nearly half a million children have dropped out of school since the 2015 escalation of conflict in Yemen, bringing the total number of out-of-school children to 2 million.

Strengthening ties

UNICEF has over 70 years of experience meeting the needs of children before, during and after emergencies. As the organization explores innovative ways to deliver essential services to children at risk of being left behind, strategies that bridge humanitarian and development needs will prove critical to success.

This year, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the bedrock of the organization’s tireless work for and on behalf of children around the world.

At today’s session, the Executive Board reviewed UNICEF’s operational strategies for aligning such efforts as a means of reducing long-term risks, preventing future crises and building more resilient societies. Key strategies include:

  • Strengthening systems and localizing humanitarian and development programming
  • Risk-informed programming
  • Strengthening participation of affected populations to place them at the centre of humanitarian and development action
  • Strengthening social protection systems to scale up cash transfers in emergencies
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Enabling inter-agency, system-wide strategies
  • Galvanizing partnerships to mobilize quality resources

The Board was informed of UNICEF plans to continue to forge partnerships that support these strategies, to implement an internal procedure and to undertake a quality review of linkages between humanitarian and development programming in major emergencies. UNICEF called on donors and Executive Board members to provide more flexible funding and invest in initiatives that can bring them to scale.

“Millions of children and young people are counting on us,” Executive Director Fore said. “Let us meet their needs and meet them with our best efforts.”

“I look forward to leading the Board in enhancing the role of UNICEF and improving the lives of children, especially in remote areas, those hard to reach due to natural disasters, or marred by conflict…I hope that we can contribute to achieving sustainable development,” said Ambassador Mohamed.

Read more:

About the UNICEF Executive Board
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Humanitarian Action for Children 2019



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