EU — Council conclusions on Humanitarian Food Assistance

3011th FOREIGN AFFAIRS Coun­cil meet­ing — Brus­sels, 10 May 2010
The Coun­cil adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:
“1. The Coun­cil wel­comes the Commission’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tion on Human­i­tar­i­an Food Assis­tance, which cap­tures best prac­tice and artic­u­lates the objec­tives, prin­ci­ples and stan­dards by which the EU and its Mem­ber States can tack­le hunger in human­i­tar­i­an crises in the most effec­tive, effi­cient and coor­di­nat­ed way.

2. The Coun­cil deems this as a nec­es­sary and time­ly pol­i­cy frame­work, recall­ing the increas­ing human­i­tar­i­an needs, and the grow­ing num­ber of under­nour­ished peo­ple in the world. The Coun­cil fur­ther­more recog­nis­es this Com­mu­ni­ca­tion as an impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the ful­fil­ment of a com­mit­ment made in the Action Plan for the Euro­pean Con­sen­sus on Human­i­tar­i­an Aid, to “elab­o­rate diver­si­fied approach­es and inter­ven­tions to food assis­tance” includ­ing liveli­hood sup­port respons­es in dif­fer­ent con­texts on the basis of needs assess­ment and analysis.

3. The Coun­cil recog­nis­es the impor­tant inter-rela­tion between this Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the sep­a­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tion “An EU pol­i­cy frame­work to assist devel­op­ing coun­tries address food secu­ri­ty chal­lenges”, and val­ues the coher­ence of both doc­u­ments, par­tic­u­lar­ly in ensur­ing close coor­di­na­tion between human­i­tar­i­an and devel­op­ment actors, while acknowl­edg­ing their spe­cif­ic fea­tures of spe­cial­iza­tion, and link­ing relief with reha­bil­i­ta­tion and development. 

4. The Coun­cil endors­es the over­ar­ch­ing objec­tive for EU human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance as sav­ing and pre­serv­ing life, pro­tect­ing liveli­hoods, and increas­ing resilience, for pop­u­la­tions fac­ing on-going or firm­ly fore­cast food crises, or recov­er­ing from them.

5. The Coun­cil sup­ports the shift away from the use of in-kind com­mod­i­ty food aid as the default response to human­i­tar­i­an and emer­gency food needs. It there­fore urges the EU and its Mem­ber States to sup­port the capac­i­ty of the human­i­tar­i­an sys­tem to con­duct qual­i­ty and trans­par­ent needs assess­ment and to deliv­er more var­ied and more appro­pri­ate forms of food assistance.

6. To this end, the Coun­cil agrees that EU human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance should aim to: 

  • safe­guard the avail­abil­i­ty of, access to, and con­sump­tion of ade­quate, safe and nutri­tious food for pop­u­la­tions affect­ed by ongo­ing, firm­ly fore­cast, or recent human­i­tar­i­an crises so as to avoid high rates of mor­tal­i­ty and acute mal­nu­tri­tion (in rela­tion to absolute thresh­olds and where appro­pri­ate rel­a­tive con­text-spe­cif­ic base­lines), or oth­er lifethreat­en­ing effects and consequences;

  • pro­tect liveli­hoods threat­ened by recent, ongo­ing, or immi­nent crises and estab­lish con­di­tions to pro­mote the restora­tion of self reliance; and,

  • strength­en the capac­i­ties of the inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an aid sys­tem, to enhance effi­cien­cy and effec­tive­ness in the deliv­ery of food assistance.

7. The Coun­cil under­lines that EU human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance should be con­sis­tent with the EU con­sen­sus on Human­i­tar­i­an Aid and based on the fol­low­ing key principles: 

  • respect and pro­mote fun­da­men­tal human­i­tar­i­an prin­ci­ples of human­i­ty, impar­tial­i­ty neu­tral­i­ty and independence;

  • be needs-based, evi­dence-based, results-focused, and pre­ced­ed by and based on needs assess­ments, which should be com­mon needs assess­ments when­ev­er appropriate;

  • pro­vide flex­i­ble resources to sup­port the most effec­tive and appro­pri­ate respons­es from a full range of poten­tial tools, includ­ing cash and vouchers;

  • be pri­ori­tised accord­ing to (i) the sever­i­ty of the cri­sis and the scale of the unmet needs (ii) the imme­di­a­cy of the cri­sis, and (iii) the expect­ed impact of the response;

  • do no harm and pre­serve human dignity;

  • involve ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and incor­po­rate gen­der and pro­tec­tion con­sid­er­a­tions, in human­i­tar­i­an food-needs assess­ment, response design and imple­men­ta­tion, as well as mon­i­tor­ing and evaluation;

  • incor­po­rate nutri­tion­al per­spec­tives into all food assis­tance needs assess­ments and respons­es, and pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the spe­cif­ic nutri­tion­al needs of defined vul­ner­a­ble groups affect­ed by cri­sis ( chil­dren under-two, preg­nant and lac­tat­ing women and peo­ple liv­ing with HIV/AIDS among oth­ers), respect­ing, as far as pos­si­ble, pop­u­la­tions´ dietary preferences;

  • be close­ly coor­di­nat­ed with food secu­ri­ty devel­op­ment activ­i­ties, and pur­sue approach­es for link­ing relief with reha­bil­i­ta­tion and devel­op­ment, with­out replac­ing devel­op­ment instru­ments as the main tools to address chron­ic food inse­cu­ri­ty, and facil­i­tat­ing smooth tran­si­tion, hand over and exit strategies; 

  • pri­ori­tise where appro­pri­ate the local and region­al pro­cure­ment of com­modi­ties when inkind food assis­tance is nec­es­sary in order to max­imise accept­abil­i­ty of food prod­ucts, pro­tect or sup­port local mar­kets and local agri­cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion, avoid mar­ket dis­tor­tions and reduce trans­porta­tion costs and deliv­ery timeframes.

8. The Coun­cil endors­es the entry cri­te­ria artic­u­lat­ed in the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, such that a human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance response should be trig­gered when, due to inad­e­quate food con­sump­tion, emer­gency rates (linked to absolute thresh­olds and where appro­pri­ate rel­a­tive con­tex­tu­al indi­ca­tors) of mor­tal­i­ty or acute mal­nu­tri­tion have been reached or exceed­ed, or are firm­ly antic­i­pat­ed on the basis of human­i­tar­i­an risk analy­sis. The Coun­cil also acknowl­edges that a food assis­tance response could also be trig­gered, if appro­pri­ate, by a seri­ous dete­ri­o­ra­tion of peo­ples´ liveli­hoods so as to avoid them resort­ing to detri­men­tal cop­ing strategies.

9. The Coun­cil sim­i­lar­ly endors­es the exit cri­te­ria artic­u­lat­ed in the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, such that human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance inter­ven­tions should be phased out when indi­ca­tors of acute mal­nu­tri­tion, mor­tal­i­ty and extreme cop­ing (linked to inad­e­quate food con­sump­tion or poor food util­i­sa­tion), are sta­ble below emer­gency lev­els, or are expect­ed to sta­bilise below such lev­els inde­pen­dent­ly of human­i­tar­i­an sup­port, and with­out ben­e­fi­cia­ries resort­ing to detri­men­tal cop­ing strate­gies. Human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance may also be phased out if the above key prin­ci­ples can­not be respect­ed or if the risk of doing harm out­weighs the poten­tial benefits.

10. The Coun­cil con­curs that, ulti­mate­ly, human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance should ensure ben­e­fi­cia­ries’ time­ly access to safe and well bal­anced food, of suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty to meet their dietary require­ments. The choice of spe­cif­ic response options to meet this objec­tive should be con­text spe­cif­ic and evi­dence based, and should be reg­u­lar­ly reviewed.

11. The Coun­cil con­curs that the EU and its Mem­ber States should facil­i­tate com­ple­men­tary, mul­ti-sec­toral and inte­grat­ed pro­gram­ming in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er human­i­tar­i­an and devel­op­ment actors to ensure that human­i­tar­i­an food and nutri­tion needs are addressed holis­ti­cal­ly and effectively.

12. The Coun­cil stress­es that the rein­force­ment or pro­tec­tion of dis­as­ter-affect­ed liveli­hoods is an impor­tant, legit­i­mate and appro­pri­ate emer­gency response in many emer­gency contexts.

13. The Coun­cil agrees that EU human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance inter­ven­tions must con­sid­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for main­stream­ing dis­as­ter risk reduc­tion, but also under­lines the main respon­si­bil­i­ty of nation­al gov­ern­ments and the com­par­a­tive advan­tage of devel­op­ment actors to under­take dis­as­ter risk reduc­tion work more effec­tive­ly in most contexts.

14. The Coun­cil under­lines the impor­tance of sup­port­ing efforts to improve coor­di­na­tion of human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance under the lead­er­ship and over­all coor­di­nat­ing role of the Unit­ed Nations and of endors­ing the clus­ter approach result­ing from the human­i­tar­i­an reform. This should ensure link­ages with the glob­al archi­tec­ture for gov­er­nance of agri­cul­ture, food secu­ri­ty and nutri­tion. The Coun­cil also stress­es the need to strength­en coor­di­na­tion and, to the extent pos­si­ble, col­lab­o­ra­tion with nation­al and local author­i­ties, rel­e­vant nation­al human­i­tar­i­an actors and civ­il society.

15. The Coun­cil under­lines the need for the EU and its Mem­ber States to work togeth­er to strength­en coor­di­na­tion in rela­tion to human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance efforts in line with these Coun­cil Conclusions.

16. The Coun­cil will assess the imple­men­ta­tion of these Con­clu­sions before the end of 2013, based on a review pre­pared by the Commission.

17. When par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ongo­ing debate on glob­al gov­er­nance of the human­i­tar­i­an food assis­tance the EU and its Mem­ber States will pro­mote the poli­cies and prin­ci­ples con­tained in these Coun­cil Conclusions.” 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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