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Remarks by Estonia at the UNHCR Standing Committee 79th Session held 21-22 September 2017


UNHCR Standing Committee 79th Session


Remarks by ESTONIA


Agenda item 2 b: Management

Geneva, 21 September 2017


Ms./Mr. Chairperson,

Allow me to thank the UNHCR for the presentations today, the Director of External Relations for her remarks under this agenda item and the background documentation for this session on progress toward implementing the UNHCR’s “grand bargain” commitments.


The World Humanitarian Summit and the adoption of more than 6000 commitments was an important milestone in 2016. The Grand Bargain, which was one of the most tangible outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit, lays the important and much needed ground for positive change in the humanitarian system towards increased effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. It offers practical solutions to address the increasing humanitarian funding cap. In this spirit, we welcome the fact that UNHCR is now part of the grand bargain facilitation group; the release of UNHCR’s self-report on the first year of implementation; and the Grand Bargain independent report, to which the UNHCR contributed.


As we are ourselves taking steps to achieve our Grand Bargain commitments, we also follow with great interest the progress of other Grand Bargain signatories. As the Grand Bargain independent report reiterates, progress on the Grand Bargain has been uneven with evidence of a frequent pick and-choose approach and “there is growing impatience about the Grand Bargain’s impact on field operations”. It is important to carry forward the momentum and achieve tangible results. The very nature of the Grand Bargain means that changes need to occur both on the donors’ as well as the implementers’ side and the UNHCR therefore needs to make changes in both of these capacities.


Estonia appreciates the update given on UNHCR’s efforts to achieve greater transparency; increased support for local and national responders, cash-based programming; reducing costs with periodic functional reviews; improving joint and impartial needs assessment; increasing collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding; reducing earmarking, and enhancing engagement between humanitarian and development actors, to name a few areas. As we commend the significant progress made, we also look forward to further tangible results. In particular, we encourage the UNHCR to move further on using innovative approaches and technologies, simplifying its tools and requirements towards its partners, and on contributing to bridging the gap between humanitarian and development activities.


Estonia considers, in the context of ever-growing needs, that innovation in the humanitarian field is especially crucial. This includes working with partners outside the humanitarian sector, while remaining committed to the humanitarian principles. Securing cooperation between humanitarian actors and development actors and between humanitarian actors and the private sector is crucial to advance on the endeavor to bring in innovation to the humanitarian field. Therefore, we much welcome UNHCR’s efforts to reduce costs and measure the efficiency gain with technology and innovation, such as through the use of biometrics for refugee registration, and are looking forward to further reports on innovative approaches.


Thank you!


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