AG/RES. 1463 (XXVII-O/97)
(Resolution adopted at the sixth plenary session, held on June 4, 1997)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
HAVING SEEN the report of the Permanent Council on the White Helmets Initiative (AG/doc.3519/97);
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that, in the Plan of Action adopted by the Summit of the Americas in 1994, the heads of state and government said that the White Helmets Initiative could facilitate the eradication of poverty and strengthen the humanitarian rapid response capability of the international community to emergency humanitarian, social, and developmental needs, and that the countries of the Americas could pioneer the initiative through the creation of national corps of volunteers that could respond to calls from other countries in the region; and
RECALLING that, in resolution AG/RES. 1403 (XXVI-O/96), the Permanent Council was requested to set up a Working Group on the White Helmets Initiative to receive comments from the governments on the Initiative and examine concrete measures for promoting it within the OAS; explore the possibility of defining measures for mutual cooperation in handling humanitarian emergencies in the Americas through the White Helmets, under the existing mechanism for coordination between the General Secretariat of the OAS and the Secretariat of the United Nations; prepare, in coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary General, a plan of support for conducting White Helmets humanitarian assistance activities in the Hemisphere; and continue encouraging full implementation of this initiative,
1. To take note of the report presented by the Permanent Council on the White Helmets Initiative.
2. To approve the Plan for Implementation of the White Helmets Initiative within the Organization of American States, attached hereto, prepared by the Working Group on the White Helmets Initiative in collaboration with the Office of the Assistant Secretary General.
3. To instruct the Permanent Council to coordinate with the Office of the Assistant Secretary General, through the Working Group on the White Helmets Initiative, implementation of the Plan, which will not require the establishment of any new administrative offices that would have budgetary implications for the Organization.
4. To authorize the establishment of a special fund, to be known as the "Special White Helmets Fund," made up of voluntary contributions from governments of the region, the international community, multilateral agencies, private sources, and individuals expressing an interest in the Initiative.
5. To instruct the Permanent Council to prepare, through the Working Group on the White Helmets Initiative, and approve specific guidelines for use of the Special White Helmets Fund, which will be managed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary General.
6. To urge the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States to work with the Secretariat of the United Nations, within existing mechanisms, to coordinate procedures for evaluation and cooperation in the response to humanitarian emergencies through the White Helmets Initiative.
7. To request the General Secretariat to present a report on the implementation of this resolution to the General Assembly at its twenty-eighth regular session.
PLAN FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WHITE HELMETS INITIATIVE
WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
The White Helmets Initiative was proposed by the Argentine Republic to the international community in 1993. It was backed by the United Nations General Assembly, included in the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas held in 1994, and adopted by the Organization of American States in 1995.
Its essential purpose is to help to alleviate critical situations of hunger and poverty, wherever they occur in the Hemisphere, and to assist population groups in disaster situations, whether natural or caused by human action.
The Organization of American States adopted the White Helmets Initiative through resolutions AG/RES. 1351 (XXV-O/95) and AG/RES. 1403 (XXVI-O/96).
In resolution AG/RES. 1403 (XXVI-O/96), the General Assembly requested the Permanent Council to set up a Working Group on the White Helmets Initiative, which, among other tasks, was to receive comments from the governments on the White Helmets Initiative, examine concrete measures for promoting it within the OAS, and continue encouraging full implementation of this initiative in the region.
II. ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS
The purposes of the White Helmets Initiative include tapping potential in the countries of the region for emergency humanitarian assistance and facilitating the subsequent transition to the rehabilitation phase. It often happens that emergency response resources are not administered efficiently when and where they are needed. Hence, critical situations often remain unresolved even when material and human resources for addressing them are available.
Coordinated action at the regional level by the various parties involved in this process can more effectively alleviate the effects of circumstances that make humanitarian assistance necessary. Hence, a renewed offensive must be launched to make the best use of the countries' solidarity and generate rapid solutions to emergencies that call for humanitarian aid.
The basic implied concept is that volunteer technical teams specializing in humanitarian relief be selected by the governments and made available to the countries in the region under OAS coordination.
White Helmets activities are to be conducted, at the request of the affected state or states, by teams of professionals previously tested in similar operations or properly trained by their countries.
Funding for their operations is provided through voluntary contributions, earmarked or not, from governments in the region, the international community, multilateral agencies, private institutions, and individuals.
The White Helmets Initiative provides the governments with a complementary mechanism for channeling and coordinating efforts aimed at swift humanitarian solutions to emergency situations.
The White Helmets Initiative will preserve the apolitical, neutral, and impartial nature of humanitarian assistance, and will be consistent with the purposes and principles established in the OAS Charter.
III. PROPOSAL FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WHITE
HELMETS INITIATIVE IN THE OAS
Execution of the White Helmets Initiative in the OAS does not entail the establishment of new administrative functions with budgetary implications.
A. Implementation of the White Helmets Initiative will be directed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary General, which will have the following responsibilities, among others:
Gather and record information on human and material resources available in the region which the White Helmets will provide;
Circulate that information through OAS communications mechanisms;
Together with the country or countries affected, identify specific targets for humanitarian assistance, with a view to the optimal use of resources;
In the light of that information, coordinate, along with the countries involved and the United Nations Secretariat, and using existing mechanisms/, approaches to evaluation and cooperation under the White Helmets humanitarian relief program; and
Promote the White Helmets Initiative by those means it finds suitable.
B. To facilitate the accomplishment of these tasks, a Special White Helmets Fund will be established, at no cost to the Organization. It will be administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary General with the approval of the Permanent Council.
Contributions will be voluntary and will come from the governments of the region, the international community, multilateral agencies, private institutions, and individuals expressing an interest in the Initiative.
In the case of any contribution earmarked for a specific purpose, an agreement between the donor and the OAS General Secretariat will be drawn up, and will specify the purpose of the contribution whenever the donor so requests. Use of those funds will be governed by that agreement.
When donations are not earmarked, the funds will be used, as available, to ensure that humanitarian assistance as offered by the White Helmets is provided. To that end, the Office of the Assistant Secretary General will hold consultations, when necessary, with the pertinent areas of the Organization.
C. The Office of the Assistant Secretary General will keep the Permanent Council abreast of all activities to be carried out under the Initiative.