08.08.2006 / 12:13
Foreign humanitarian aid is an integral part of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy. During the Austrian Presidency of the EU, the Czech Republic endorsed the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD), which require humanitarian aid to be provided in accordance with the fundamental international humanitarian principles, in particular the principle of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.
Foreign humanitarian aid is an integral part of the Czech Republic's foreign policy. During the Austrian Presidency of the EU, the Czech Republic endorsed the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD), which require humanitarian aid to be provided in accordance with the fundamental international humanitarian principles, in particular the principle of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. The main purpose of humanitarian aid is thus to save lives, to alleviate human suffering, to provide need-based assistance without discriminating any groups of affected people, not to be biased in favour of any of the parties to an armed conflict and to provide aid independently from the political, economic, military or other goals of the donor. International humanitarian law and refugee law, as well as human rights and the "Do No Harm" principle must also be respected.
Humanitarian aid constitutes a part of the international community's effort to address critical situations and issues where their solution is beyond the capacities of affected countries. A starting point for the provision of humanitarian aid is therefore the fact that the affected country itself asks for help - directly or through international organisations. Humanitarian aid must always be based on the need or demand on the part of the beneficiary, not on the offer on the part of the donor.
In the Czech Republic, humanitarian aid is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior - General Directorate of the Fire Rescue Service. Provision of humanitarian aid worth less than CZK 5 million is authorized jointly by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Interior; aid exceeding CZK 5 million is subject to the Czech Government's decision. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, humanitarian aid falls under the competence of the Department of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (ORS).
In providing humanitarian aid, the MFA collaborates with international humanitarian organisations, in particular with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UN agencies - e.g. the World Food Programme (WFP), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN International Children's Fund (UNICEF), with NGOs such as the People in Need, ADRA, Czech Caritas and occasionally also with other Czech ministries.
The Czech Republic provides humanitarian aid in the form of expert assistance (by sending rescue workers and other specialists), in-kind aid (by providing necessary material) and financial aid (e.g. by making contributions to international humanitarian organisations, NGOs, etc.)
As regards timing, the Czech Republic provides immediate humanitarian aid - in response to an emergency (e.g. natural disaster, outbreak of a conflict, etc.), subsequent humanitarian aid in the rehabilitation process (assistance to the affected population in the post-crisis or post-conflict period) and reconstruction (renewal of the infrastructure, buildings, etc.). This type of aid may be followed by development cooperation.
For greater efficiency and coordination of aid and in compliance with the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship, the Czech Republic strives to respond to joint appeals of UN agencies and international NGOs within the so-called Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) - especially in cases of long-term crises, as well as to immediate appeals in cases of emergency or sudden aggravation of persisting crises, the so-called CAP Flash Appeals.
Within the EU Humanitarian Aid Committee (HAC), the Czech Republic as an EU member participates in the decision-making on humanitarian aid provided from the budget of the European Commission through the Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO).
In the future, new legislation should be introduced in the field of humanitarian aid - the MFA, together with other parties involved, is currently working on a draft act on development cooperation and humanitarian aid.