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Estonian participation in international humanitarian policy

Estonia takes actively part in international humanitarian policies through European Union and UN organisations' work. The contributions for supporting international humanitarian aid, and reacting to both natural disasters and man-made crises have increased steadily. 

Estonia values EU's active participation in improving the systems and coordination of humanitarian aid. European Union is one of the largest donor of humanitarian aid: the Commission and Member States give together more than one third of the global financial resources allocated to crisis assistance. The main priorities are improving the capability to react to crises, increasing the effectiveness of the aid given, and connecting humanitarian aid, development cooperation and the protection of the communities.    

From 2015-2017, Estonia is for the second time a member of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). After holding vice-presidency of ECOSOC between 2009-2011, Estonia has largely enhanced its profile and visibility in giving humanitarian aid. It is important for Estonia that the principles of Geneva Convention are followed to guarantee the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, especially including the importance of access of humanitarian aid to conflict zones and the protection of aid workers. More attention should be given to refugees: for example to their possibilities to continue their education. 

An important event during the membership of ECOSOC will be the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul in 2016 where the focus will be on solving and alleviating humanitarian crises. World Humanitarian Summit 2016 is intended to support Humanitarian Reforms of 2005 and 2010 (Cluster approach, CERF, Transformative Agenda). The four main topics of the Summit will be: 1) humanitarian effectiveness; 2) reducing vulnerability and managing risks; 3) transformation through innovation; 4) serving the needs of people in conflict. Follow on Twitter: #ReShapeAid

Estonia was elected as a UNICEF Committee member for 2014-2016 and holds a vice-presidency in the Bureau of the Executive Board in 2015.

In March 2015, Estonia joined the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for the following outcome: The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries. Read more about the Framework and its seven global targets: http://www.unisdr.org/we/coordinate/sendai-framework.

In 2014, Estonia joined the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Donor Support Group (ODSG). It is a very prestigious position which allows Estonia to contribute to shaping the international humanitarian assistance policies. 

Estonia has been supporting the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since 2001 and starting from 2007, the country is a member of UNHCR Executive Committee. 

Chairmanship of the Good Humanitarian Donorship group

From 2009 to 2010, Estonia was the co-chairman along with Ireland of the largest group unifying humanitarian aid donors—Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD). GHD is an informal forum that brings together 41 countries that give humanitarian aid (donors), all of whom have approved standards for good practice in providing humanitarian aid—the principles of good humanitarian donorship.

The goal of the GHD group is to spread the principles of good humanitarian donorship. For this they meet about 4 times a year in Geneva, where they share practical experiences and discuss current issues in humanitarian policy. There is also dialogue with other humanitarian partners. The broader goal of the group is to improve the behaviour of donors, which would make helping those in need much more effective. All of the EU member states have joined the good humanitarian donorship principles through the “European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid (PDF)” (Council declaration), which among other things bases its own goals on the GHD principles.

Read more about the GHD principles here: http://www.ghdinitiative.org/.

One of the priorities of the Estonian chairmanship was to help spread the GHD principles among other emerging and potential donors. In addition, we hoped to set an example that inspires new EU member states to increase their activeness in humanitarian aid policy.

After the chairmanship Estonia has continued its active participation in GHD meetings and continues to organize GHD-SHARE meetings. GHD-SHARE is one GHD initiative aimed towards strengthening partnership.

Last updated: 24 August 2015

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