> back to statements
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Mr. Meynardo LB. Montealegre
Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations

Agenda Item 39 (b): Strengthening of the Humanitarian
And Disaster Relief Assistance of the UN
Including Special Economic Assistance

59th United Nations General Assembly
New York, 8 November 2004

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me, at the outset, to thank the Secretary General for his various reports on humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, including rehabilitation efforts for countries and regions undergoing or emerging from a humanitarian crisis due to conflicts or natural causes.

The Philippines attaches great importance to the UN-led humanitarian activities in these cases, and along this line, would like to recall the White Helmets Initiative (WHI) which was initiated in the General Assembly by Argentina, a decade ago. We also recall that this initiative was subsequently adopted in the Western Hemisphere through the efforts of the Organization of American States.

The Philippines believes that the White Helmets Initiative has certainly been a major contribution to the development and promotion of voluntary humanitarian initiatives by Member States, regional organizations, NGOs and individuals. It is a concept with great potential, complementing the success of the work of the UN Volunteers (UNV) and other similar humanitarian programs.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines, with its strong tradition of volunteerism, is particularly impressed with the White Helmets Initiative and its basic organizational model of a national volunteer corps ready for deployment, to answer to the emergency needs of its neighbors. Since it is supported by national and voluntary contributions, it advances the humanitarian agenda of the UN without being an additional burden on its resources.

My country, which is an active participant in the United Nations Volunteers programs, has several strong NGOs working in specialized fields in various countries in the Asia-Pacific region. We are looking forward to eventually establishing our own White Helmet system.

Mr. Chairman,

In order to maximize the use of available resources and to create a synergy of bringing together relevant institutions, we are presently working with our Armed Forces and National Police Peacekeeping Organizations, Civil Defense authorities and volunteer NGOs for the development of a White Helmet Corps.

The Philippines is convinced that the United Nations should not loose sight of the value of the White Helmets Initiative in the humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation efforts. Its potential should be maximized as a component of UN-mandated peace operations, serving alongside Blue Helmets, particularly in the post-conflict peace-building and economic reconstruction stage.

The Philippines therefore calls on members of the United Nations to also look at the possibility of expanding and coordinating their respective international and regional voluntary bodies into national White Helmets organizations, and on regional organizations for support, which could serve as yet another opportunity to hasten the delivery of humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation initiatives to countries and regions undergoing or emerging from conflicts or natural disasters.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Philippine Center Building | 556 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 | (Between 45th and 46th)
Tel:(212)764-1300 | Fax:(212)840-8602 | E-mail: misunphil@aol.com