Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
Let me thank the Presidency of the Security Council and the Secretary-General for this thematic debate and commend the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs for his informative briefing. The EU particularly welcomes the debate as it takes place 60 years after the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, which contain the core norms and principles of International Humanitarian Law concerning the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict. In this respect, the EU urges states that have not yet done so to accede to both additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions and to consider accepting the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission, pursuant to Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol.
On numerous occasions, the Security Council has demanded all parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians in armed conflicts. Unfortunately, the civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflicts.
The EU emphasizes the need to develop in parallel additional concepts based on the aim to protect civilian populations – human security and responsibility to protect. The EU welcomed the endorsement of the principle of responsibility to protect by the Heads of States and Governments, therefore we call for the full implementation of this principle by the Security Council as well as by the General Assembly. The EU is ready to contribute and commends other organizations or groups for taking initiatives to advance this principle into a norm in international relations.
The EU is firmly committed to the full and effective implementation of Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). The EU is concerned by the continued high prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict, including as a tactic of war. The resolution 1820 requests to deal with these crimes also as a security problem requiring a systematic security response that is proportional to its scale and magnitude.
The EU has been strengthening its policy on sexual and gender-based violence by pursuing three objectives: prevention of violence, protection and support for victims and combating the impunity of perpetrators of violence. The EU member states demonstrated their deep commitment to these objectives by cosponsoring Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) and by adopting long-term “EU Guidelines on Violence against Women and Girls and combating all Forms of Discrimination against them” in 2008, as well as adopting European Security and Defence Policy document “Implementation of UNSCR 1325 as reinforced by UNSCR 1820 in the context of ESDP”.
Similarly, the EU continues to strongly support the valuable work done by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. The EU member states continue to implement long-term EU Guidelines on the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflict and is interested in cooperating with other States on this issue on the basis of the Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), which sets an enhanced framework for the protection of children in armed conflict. The EU remains deeply concerned by the continuing practice of recruitment and use of child soldiers in clear violation of international legal obligations and other relevant principles. In this context, I would like to invite all countries to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and to adhere to and follow the Paris Commitments and Principles adopted in 2007.
We should also bear in mind at least basic needs of refugees and internally displaced persons. The EU is continuously concerned by the growing number of internally displaced persons and calls to ensure their protection.
Regrettably, in many conflicts, impunity prevails due to the lack of political will and actions. Therefore, the Security Council once again should make clear that any actions against civilian population, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are unacceptable. The International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Tribunals and Special Courts are working hard to promote peace and justice. The EU encourages all states to provide their full support to the ICC by acceding to the Rome Statute and cooperating with the Court. All appropriate measures should be used to prevent violence and to bring perpetrators of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law to justice. The EU would also like to express its full support to the Special Adviser of the SG on the prevention of genocide.
Let me reaffirm the gratitude to and solidarity with humanitarian actors whose safe, unhindered and timely access to civilian population, in particular in the times of the armed conflict, is a fundamental condition for the fulfillment of their mandates and mission. We encourage humanitarian personnel on the ground to follow the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence and we call on the recipient countries to ensure their safety and security. We urge all countries, which have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Convention on the Safety of the United Nations and Associated Personnel and its Optional Protocol and invite the Secretary-General to further include their provisions in host country and other agreements.
A landmark development has recently taken place on the containment of the risks set by cluster munitions. The EU wishes to commend the increasing support of states for the Convention on Cluster Munitions which prohibits use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. The EU remains determined to negotiate within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) a legally binding instrument that addresses the humanitarian concerns of cluster munitions in all their aspects. Such result would in the EU’s view reinforce the importance of the CCW as part of the corpus of international humanitarian law. The EU welcomes the progress achieved in the implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the review of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development during the year 2008. Mainstreaming coherent SALW policies within the UN agencies and among its member states remains a challenge that needs to be addressed in-depth.
Finally, the EU remains of the view that the protection of civilians is a key aspect of the UNs peacekeeping and peace-building efforts that has to be comprehensively, systematically and consistently incorporated in all Security Council mandates. The EU wants to underline that recently the Security Council has taken important decisions enforcing the protection of civilian’s component and respect of international humanitarian law in the MONUC, UNAMID, and MINURCAT mandates. The EU looks forward to the Secretary-Generals report on the implementation of the protection mandates in the peacekeeping missions.
In this context, the EU also emphasizes the need for close coordination and meaningful positive synergies of policies regarding protection of civilians within the UN framework activities in other key areas, such as human rights, gender equality, children in armed conflict, rule of law, small arms and light weapons, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR).
We believe that the updated Aide-mémoire to be annexed to the Statement by the President of the Security Council will prove to be an inclusive instrument of integrating various aspects of the protection of civilians. I want to express the EUs firm support to the establishment of an informal experts’ group on the protection of civilians and encourages the use of the Aide-mémoire as a reliable reference for future reviews of peacekeeping and other mandates.
Mr. President, with this, let me reassure you of the EUs continued commitment on this important issue.