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Statement by Ambassador Wang Min at the Security Council Meeting on Protection of Civilians in Armed conflicts

2014/08/19

Mr. President,

Today is World Humanitarian Day. The Security Council’s discussion today on the protection of humanitarian workers is of special significance. I would like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson for his briefing. China has also listened conscientiously to the briefings by Mr. Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the representative of non-governmental organizations.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption by the Council of resolution 1265 (1999), on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Over the past 15 years, the international community has made unremitting efforts to protect civilians in armed conflict, provide timely humanitarian relief and assist the victims of conflict to improve their plight, and there have been positive achievements. Meanwhile, regional hot-spot issues continue to crop up. Conflicts have become increasingly complicated. The humanitarian workers of the United Nations, humanitarian agencies and relief organizations working on the front lines are facing an ever-deteriorating security environment and conditions. From Iraq to the Gaza Strip and from Somalia in the Horn of Africa to the Central African Republic, humanitarian workers are constantly subject to various forms of violent attacks. Some of them have even lost their lives as a result of those attacks.

China attaches great importance to the protection of humanitarian workers. We condemn attacks and violent acts against humanitarian workers. We pay tribute to those who brave difficulties in providing selfless, life-saving services in armed conflicts.

China supports discussions by the international community on the strengthening of the protection of humanitarian workers. I would like to make the following four observations.

First, the protection of humanitarian workers is the inescapable responsibility of the parties to a given conflict. All parties to armed conflict should abide by international law, including international humanitarian law and the conventions governing the safety of United Nations personnel, and honour the obligation to protect humanitarian workers. With regard to attacks on and violent acts harming humanitarian workers, the international community should encourage the countries involved to carry out investigations, and we should respect their findings. Perpetrators must be held accountable, and assistance must be provided to countries in need of financial and technical support.

Secondly, United Nations humanitarian agencies and relief organizations, while carrying out humanitarian relief work in conflict, should comply with the Charter of the United Nations; uphold the principles of humanitarianism, namely neutrality, impartiality and independence; fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries involved; and avoid engaging in the conflict or supporting any of the parties. That is essential if humanitarian relief efforts are to win the understanding and trust of all parties. It is also an important guarantee of the safety of humanitarian workers.

Thirdly, the prevention and resolution of conflicts is key to enhancing the protection of humanitarian workers. The Security Council has the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. It should actively carry out political mediation and preventive diplomacy, encourage the parties concerned to resolve their differences through peaceful means such as dialogue and negotiation, prevent and curb the escalation of conflict and work for a political solution, thus alleviating the harm inflicted on humanitarian workers by addressing its root causes. The Security Council’s authorization and deployment of United Nations peacekeeping operations can play an important role in supporting the success of humanitarian relief efforts and protecting humanitarian workers.

Fourthly, in providing comprehensive protection to humanitarian workers, Member States, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies must take coordinated and concerted actions so as to create synergies. The United Nations should fully leverage its comparative advantage, carry out an in-depth analysis and evaluation of the risks in and challenges to humanitarian relief work in conflict zones based on respect for the views of the countries involved, maintain communication and coordination with the parties to the conflict and strengthen the protection of humanitarian workers. Comprehensive measures must be taken to effectively cope with all the security challenges faced by humanitarian workers.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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