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ECOSOC - Statements in 2001

Statement by H.E. Mr. Hynek Kmonicek, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at the High - Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council, Sustainable development of Africa and role of the UN system Geneva, 17 July 2001 Statement by H.E. Mr.

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Hynek Kmonicek, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at the High - Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council, Sustainable development of Africa and role of the UN system
    Geneva, 17 July 2001

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Alexander Slaby, Director General for Multilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on agenda item 5 - Special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance
    Geneva, 11 July, 2001

  • Statement by Ms. Jana Simonova, Delegation of the Czech Republic to Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council on Agenda Item 3: UN Operational Activities
    Geneva, 5 July 2001

  • Statement by Mrs. Dagmar Ratajova, Representative of the Czech Republic at 39th Session of the Commission for Social Development on Agenda Item 3(a) (ii): The Role of Volunteerism in the Promotion of Social Development
    New York, 15 February 2001

Statement by H.E. Mr. Hynek Kmonicek, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic at the High - Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council, Sustainable development of Africa and role of the UN system

Mr. President,

The issues of sustainable development in Africa have been a major concern of the international community over the decades. The turning point was the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in which the Heads of State and Government agreed upon very ambitious development goals to be achieved mostly by 2015. The Third Conference on the Least Developed Countries and the preparatory process for the International Conference of Financing for Development have also been important fora for tackling major challenges in African development. All these processes contributed to the New African Initiative recently adopted in Lusaka which is undoubtedly the most significant initiative for the African future.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic attaches great importance to the UN development goals and to the crucial role of the United Nations in the process of their implementation. The Czech Republic stands ready to contribute its share within its capacities and financial resources. However, it is obvious that basic preconditions for international assistance such as peace, political stability, democracy and respect for fundamental human rights as well as sound economic and legal environment are to be established by African countries themselves. Primary responsibility for sustainable development, thus, lies on each and every African country. The international community can only play supportive and catalytic role through providing technical, financial and material assistance and through sharing knowledge and disseminating best practices.

Development and humanitarian assistance is an integral part of the foreign policy of the Czech Republic. Today, with the country's on-going transformation, membership in OECD and association to EU, this aid constitutes a significant part of international political commitments of the Czech Republic in harmony with the objectives and strategies of the international organizations.

Most of the development assistance is provided by my country on a bilateral basis. It is targeted at 10 - 12 projects in Africa annually, including geological research of mineral resources in Zambia, Burkina Faso and Camerun, hydrological research and vaccination in Ethiopia, construction of health facilities in Zambia, new sources of food supplies for the population in Senegal and Mali and shoemaking industry in Ghana.

The volume of funds earmarked for development assistance depends on the capacities of Czech economy. The Czech Government however intends to increase this amount gradually in accord with the on-going transformation and economic growth. The Czech Republic continues to provide the university grants for students from developing countries, especially from the African continent. We are currently developing new projects in the field of geological research, agriculture, health or drinking water supply.

Mr President,

It is worth of great appreciation that African leaders realize that the future of Africa rests, above all, in the hands of the Africans themselves, and that they are ready to introduce far-reaching changes aimed at getting the continent out of the vicious circle of poverty. Africa is well aware that immense efforts will be needed to cope with the enormous challenges it faces, such as restoration and maintenance of durable peace and stability, strengthening of good governance, implementation of sound economic policies and social reforms, improvement of the access to education and health care, including a halt to the devastating impact of such diseases as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Mobilizing capital, technology and human skills as well as building domestic institutions and capacities are the most demanding and crucial elements of the desired reforms.

In this regard, we very much welcome the New African Initiative and the pledge made by African leaders to place their countries on a path of sustainable growth and development. It is extremely significant that the New African Initiative designed a new comprehensive approach to sustainable development in Africa based on African ownership, leadership and accountability.

It is clear though that without result-oriented international assistance, debt relief and without internal and external funding, this commitment as well as UN development goals will remain difficult to achieve. Substantial assistance from the international community is therefore absolutely inevitable and the Czech Republic is prepared to contribute its share.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Alexander Slaby, Director General for Multilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on agenda item 5 - Special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance

Mr President,

My delegation is carefully following this debate. We fully associate ourselves with the statement presented on behalf of the European Union by the representative of Belgium. I would like to mention just a few additional remarks.

Humanitarian assistance forms an inseparable part of the foreign policy pursued by the Czech Republic. It has been provided with a view to the immediate needs of the country or countries requiring such aid as well as with respect to the available resources from the state budget and also in keeping with the Czech Republic's own priorities and interests. In providing humanitarian assistance, we also respect the principles and resolutions of the international community and its organizations and institutions.

I would like to appreciate in this place the activities of the Office of the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as of other specialized agencies such as e.g. UNIDO, UNFPA or UNEP. An important role is played also by the European Community Humanitarian Office ECHO and the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre EADRCC.

In Central Europe, the majority of National Committees working during the United Nations 1990 - 1999 Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction continue their activities also within the follow-up Programme of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction ISDR. Besides, the Czech Republic initiated the establishment of the Central European Disaster Prevention Organization CEUDIP, associating representatives of national hydrological and meteorological services. The Czech Republic is most active within this organization and the Director of the Czech Hydrometeorological Office has been elected its Chairman.

The CEUDIP has become a forum for regional cooperation serving for the exchange of "best practices" and practical cooperation e.g. in the implementation of crisis laws and unified crises management. The CEUDIP held a regional meeting in Poland in 2000. The meeting initiated for example the drafting of a code of ethics for journalists, embodying the code of conduct during natural disasters aimed at the prevention of the spread of panic. Another CEUDIP meeting was held in Bratislava in June 2001.

The Czech Republic has been providing humanitarian assistance mostly on a bilateral basis either directly to the disaster-stricken country or through international governmental or non-governmental mechanisms to concrete groups of population. Multilateral humanitarian assistance is provided through international humanitarian organizations.

In 2000, the Czech Republic provided humanitarian assistance in 26 cases in the form of financial and material aid and through sending of rescue teams as well. Material assistance included mainly the provision of foods, medicaments, medical equipment and essential supplies. This assistance was organized in cooperation with non-governmental humanitarian organizations. Several rescue teams were sent in 2000 to provide assistance to disaster-stricken areas. Assistance was provided to countries of different regions, ranging from the developing countries to the advanced states.

Statement by Ms. Jana Simonova, Delegation of the Czech Republic to Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council on Agenda Item 3: UN Operational Activities

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic aligned itself with the EU statement on this item. In addition to the issues presented by the Belgian EU Presidency this morning, the Czech delegation would like to elaborate on two crucial points: complementarity of strategic frameworks and funding of operational activities.

On the first point, there are currently several analytical and programming instruments in place that have been originated separately by different multilateral development partners. As far as the UN instruments are concerned, CCA became an important analytical tool over the last 2 years, particularly thanks to its indicator framework. UNDAF enhances internal coherence among UN system operations and has been so far rather a coordination tool than a strategic instrument for joint programming. CDF, developed by the World Bank, introduced new principles for comprehensive approach to development, encompassing national ownership of development strategy, sector-wide approaches, broad concept of partnership etc.

PRSP was initiated by IMF as an instrument for nationally owned strategy-making process with participation of all relevant development partners. PRSP is exceptionally important tool because it responds to major challenges of current international development cooperation:

- Through focus on poverty reduction it embraces economic as well as social factors of development.

- PRSP confirms national responsibility for development and irreplaceable role of country leadership.

- it open for participatory strategy-making process and inception of new partnerships.

- Finally, PRSP introduces new approach to development by prioritizing consistent national development strategy and coherent policies at country level with supporting role to be played by international development partners.

Major challenge of today is to develop these different tools in a way which would make them complementary to each other, avoiding duplications and inspiring new partnerships. They should become vehicles for consistent and participatory development strategies at country level that would strengthen synergy and catalytic impact of international development cooperation.

That is why, the UN operational activities should, in our view, focus on the following :

1. Full implementation of CCA should be extended, its analytical potential should be increased and made available as a starting point for national strategy-making processes, namely PRSR, and all following programming by development partners.

2. UN system should closely and vigorously collaborate with national governments and BWI in formulating PRSP in all developing countries. In so doing, PRSP should reflect UN development goals at country level, while enabling implementation of sector wide approaches. Close cooperation of all relevant development partners, both domestic and international, multinational organizations as well as bilateral donors should be encouraged and strengthened both in formulating and implementing PRSP.

3. UNDAF could then be further developed as a tool for coordinated and perhaps later for joint programming if it is linked to or derived from the goals set in PRSP. It could be formulated as UN contribution to the implementation of PRSP. This approach would ensure that UN operational activities respond to national needs and UN development goals and are compatible and complementary to and not overlapping other partners´ efforts. It would also enhance coordination in programming of UN Funds and Programmes and specialized agencies and strengthen synergy in implementation not only within UN system but also among other relevant development partners.

Mr. President,

The other issue my delegation attaches great importance to is the funding of UN operational activities. It is commonly known that the traditional UN pledging conference held annually in November has yielded modest results in the recent years. Most major donors have not been able to make pledges, because of different reasons, often of the timing of their budget cycles. The pledging conference does not provide an opportunity for result-based considerations. There is also a rather large space for improvement in reporting on pledges made and payments provided. The current reporting for pledging conferences combines pledges and payments without differentiating one from the other. For these reasons and in order to revitalize mobilization of core resources and to achieve enhanced predictability, major UN Funds and Programmes have developed a new MYFFs and established funding meetings within the respective Executive Boards. For the same reasons, the role of the existing format of the pledging conference and related reporting should be reconsidered. It should be reconsidered in appropriate intergovernmental deliberations with the aim to link result-based consideration of operational activities with mobilization resources in a more efficient way. The Czech Republic is ready to take part in this effort.

Thank you, Mr. President

Statement by Mrs. Dagmar Ratajova, Representative of the Czech Republic at 39th Session of the Commission for Social Development on Agenda Item 3(a) (ii): The Role of Volunteerism in the Promotion of Social Development

Mme Chairperson, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Czech Republic aligned itself with the statement of the European Union on agenda item 3 (a) (ii) "Volunteerism in the promotion of social development". Nevertheless, I would like to expand some themes from the standpoint of my country.

The tradition of voluntary work and charitable associations within the territory of today's Czech Republic dates far back into history. Unfortunately, this long tradition was abruptly interrupted during the period of communist regime, when voluntary associations and activities were seen as a potential danger of resistance against the leading party. The property of socially aware foundations was confiscated by the state and, in fact, the whole principle of volunteering was devaluated by placing each voluntary activity under the direction of the so-called National Front, which was controlled by the Communist Party. The respect for traditional humanitarian values, such as sensitivity to the social needs of other people, solidarity with the needy, the sick and the poor, consciousness and respect of people's diversity began to fade.

Therefore, it has been a very difficult task for our society after 1989 to revive positive values, to change human behavior, to create public awareness of the importance and social credit of voluntary work, to find ways how to stimulate spontaneous volunteer action, and how to break through inhibitions that people have inherited from the previous regime.

Since 1989, the tradition of volunteering has been restored to life again, and a gradual growth in the non-profit sector can be observed throughout the 1990s. Non-governmental organizations have proved to be very important and useful actors, especially in the field of social protection. They provide such forms of assistance that have either been long lacking in our country or which deal with newly arising problem-phenomena (the refugees, homeless, unemployed, drug addicted people, etc.).

In the mid 1990s the Government was focused primarily on solving other problems of political and economic transition and, its state policy towards the non-profit sector fell slightly behind the spontaneous development of non-profit organizations. A new stage of governmental co-operation with the non-profit sector can be traced back to 1997. A governmental advisory body was re-organized into the CR Government's Council for Non-governmental Non-profit organizations in 1998. Among other tasks, it now administers financial means earmarked for the Endowment Investment Fund and also initiates provisions concerning the availability of information on the non-profit sector and on the policy of the state towards non-governmental organizations, including better and more transparent subsidy policy.

The newly arisen non-governmental, non-profit organizations aimed at various goals in many fields (such as social, health and environment protection) can now act freely in the democratic environment of the Czech Republic. It has, however, become necessary to create specific conditions and legal norms for them to function. Up to the autumn of 1995, civic associations, foundations and charitable and other non-profit organizations were governed by the provision of the Civil Code and by the law on citizens´associations. The legal framework for the existence of non-governmental, non-profit entities was then redefined by the law on public beneficial organizations (1995) and by the law on foundations and endowment funds (1997).

The necessity of improving the legal framework for the many aspects of voluntary action has been recognized primarily by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The theme "v oluntary work" has also been dealt with in some prepared bills, e.g. the Bill on Children and Youth, and the Bill on Social Services. Among other international acts and policy materials, the Czech Government attaches great importance to the Council of Europe' s European Convention on the Promotion of a Transnational Long-term Voluntary Service for Young People No. 175. As this convention would be a good impulse to strengthen the participation of young Czech volunteers in international missions, our Government is ready to sign and ratify it in the near future.

There is also another phenomenon that has influenced the recent progress in this field: due to the increasing GDP, the Czech Republic has recently been classified by the UNDP among the group of emerging donor states. Consequently, it has become necessary for us to build the structures for more systematic assistance to less developed countries. In this field, the experience of individual volunteers and non-governmental organizations specialized in sending volunteers abroad appears to be very useful. Besides their involvement in the UNV and UNDP development projects, more and more Czech citizens participate in peacekeeping, civilian observing and humanitarian missions, often within the organizational framework of the UN. Volunteers are a substantial and important source of assistance through which the Czech Republic can fulfill its commitments towards the international community. On the other hand, professional education, social and security conditions of these volunteers must be better reflected in the improved institutional and legal regulations by the state authorities.

Mme Chairperson,

The social climate in the Czech Republic is at present more favorable towards volunteering then in recent years. After several years of highly materialistic approach many people, especially the younger generation, have again begun to appreciate values which can enrich and satisfy their inner life and they are finding them in the assistance to others.

No doubt, the Czech National Co-ordination Committee for the International Year of Volunteers, established under the honorary chairmanship of the Prime Minister and sponsored by the Government, will contribute to the promotion of voluntary action in general as well as to the improvement of the legal and institutional framework of protection and support to volunteers in our country.

Mme Chairperson,

The Government of the Czech Republic identifies itself with all main ideas expressed in the material in front of us, which are also to be incorporated into the Secretary General's report at the Special Session on Volunteering (on 5th December 2001). Based on these ideas as well as on our own experience, we design not only our state policy towards voluntary action itself, but also our national social policy programs, most currently the National Plan of Action on Ageing.

Thank you for your attention.