We welcome the Secretary-General’s report on the protection of civilians, and I thank the briefers for today highlighting the continuing challenges to humanitarian action, clearly demonstrating that we must make better use of all tools available to us.
Let me start by focusing on five of these tools:
First, the conclusions adopted by the Working group on children and armed conflict must be implemented. They are important practical measures both for parties to conflict, and for the UN to enhance the protection of children. The children in armed conflict mandate is crucial, and the Council should look at enhancing the SRSG’s role in prevention.
Second, we urge all states to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration. This would strengthen the implementation of resolution 2601 on the protection of education in conflict.
Third, the Security Council should adopt strong protection mandates for peace keeping operations and political missions, also during their transition phase. And adequate resourcing must be ensured, including for child protection. The UN handbook for field Missions on preventing and responding to conflict related sexual violence must be part of training, and used in all missions.
Fourth, resolution 2286 on protection of healthcare must be implemented. The ICRC-led Health Care in Danger initiative has identified very useful recommendations and best practices.
Finally, civilian suffering caused by urban warfare, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unacceptable.
We welcome the political declaration proposed by Ireland on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Armed forces must adopt and implement specific policies and practices to avoid civilian harm.
Persistent challenges to humanitarian action in conflict must also be addressed.
We call for stronger support for the life-saving response mounted by local and international humanitarian organizations and for the leading role of female responders. Local women must participate in the design and implementation of humanitarian responses.
Also; neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organisations must be allowed to carry out their mandate safely and without interference or politization. Dialogue with all parties on the protection of civilians, conduct of hostilities, and on urgent humanitarian access and safe passage is at the core of the humanitarian mission. Moreover, there must be no impunity for attacks against humanitarian workers. Ensuring freedom of expression, access to information, and documentation are essential to this end.
Furthermore, parties to conflict must fulfill their obligation under IHL, to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access. In this regard, this Council has determined that denial of humanitarian access is one of the six grave violations against children in armed conflict.
We also want to recognise that humanitarian actors must be able to, on a daily basis, negotiate and maintain access locally. The Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation is an initiative on frontline negotiations, that can improve both access and safety for humanitarian workers.
And finally, counter terrorism measures and sanctions are vital tools to protect civilians and address threats to international peace and security. At the same time, we must take all necessary measures to avoid unintended negative impact on humanitarian action, including through broad humanitarian exemptions when appropriate.
This Council has advanced the protection of civilians and preserved humanitarian space through resolutions, mandates, and conclusions in the working group on children and armed conflict.
Let this inspire us to hold ourselves accountable and take further practical steps to implement our commitments. This demands leadership and political will.