Humanitarian assistance is generally accepted to mean the aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situation. However, it has been noticed in recent years that some developed countries from the Global North have been politicizing the humanitarian aid mechanism, and rather than aiming to alleviate the sufferings of the required, they further their own strategic agendas in countries of global South. The Non-Aligned Movement as the largest voice of the Global South has taken cognizance of this fact and in various international forums as well as the movement’s summits; NAM has sternly opposed the politicization of humanitarian aid and assistance.
In the Tehran Summit as well as the 2014 NAM ministerial meeting at Algiers, NAM leaders reaffirmed that the provision of humanitarian assistance must not be politicized and must be in full respect of the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality as set forth in General Assembly Resolution 46/182 and its annex as providing the guiding principles for the coordination of humanitarian assistance, and emphasized that all UN humanitarian entities and associated organizations must act in accordance with their respective mandates, international humanitarian law and national law. The General Assembly Resolution 46/182 states that humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the affected country Each state has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected state has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory. Adhering to the above objectives, NAM has further reaffirmed that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in accordance with the UN Charter. In this context, the movement stresses that humanitarian assistance should be provided under the principle of request and consent of the affected country. NAM has urged the international community to provide full support, including financial resources, for emergency humanitarian assistance at all levels and stressed the need to maintain the follow-up, oversight and review by the General Assembly of the activities undertaken by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to ensure its functioning according to the agreed principles contained in the relevant UN resolutions, in particular General Assembly Resolution 46/182. The movement has time and again reaffirmed the importance of the prompt allocation of CERF’s resources as part of the emergency humanitarian assistance to the affected country.
The Non-Aligned Movement has constantly reaffirmed that for strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance in the field, United Nations humanitarian entities must continue to work in close coordination with national Governments and in line with national policies and programmes being implemented for the provision of assistance to affected populations. The movement has also reaffirmed that the United Nations humanitarian entities must coordinate their work of providing humanitarian assistance to affected civilians living under foreign occupation in accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law. NAM has always shown respect to the framework established by United Nations , and on this issue has urged efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination of United Nations humanitarian entities, other relevant humanitarian organizations and donor countries with the affected State, with a view to planning and delivering emergency humanitarian assistance in ways that are supportive of early recovery as well as sustainable rehabilitation, reconstruction efforts.
It must be mentioned here that prominent NAM member states have been involved in humanitarian assistance in accordance with the principles of UN that the movement adheres to. As an important member of the NAM, India strives to adopt a strictly non-political approach to humanitarian assistance, stressing that humanitarian aid should not be linked to political objectives. This stance is a natural extension of India’s traditionally non-aligned worldview. India eschews the “donor” category and instead views itself as a “partner” who wants to stand in solidarity with its sister developing countries in distress. In 2013, India provided US$3 million for humanitarian emergencies, making it the 36th largest government donor of official humanitarian assistance. 25% of India’s overall humanitarian assistance in the last 10 years has gone to countries in the Middle East. In this period the largest recipients of its humanitarian assistance have been Pakistan (US$26 million), Afghanistan (US$25 million) and Iraq (US$20 million). The Non-Aligned Movement is also deliberating upon the formation of a NAM Working Group on humanitarian assistance under the coordination of the NAM Chair, with a task to mobilize resources and assistance to address the humanitarian impact caused by natural disasters and pandemics, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and avian flu that may occur in the NAM Member countries. NAM. NAM leaders must work out the modalities of such a group at the earliest as it will be a tremendously lift the capabilities of the Non-Aligned Movement and increase its standing in the global institutions.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor