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Statement by Ambassador Wang Min at the Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

2013/08/19
 

Madam President,

China appreciates Argentina’s initiative in holding this open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. We welcome Ambassador Ruiz Cerutti as she presides over today’s meeting, and we would like to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay and Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos for their briefings. We also listened attentively to the statement by Mr. Spoerri, the Director from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Civilians are the primary victims of wars and armed conflicts. In the recent past the international community has made enormous efforts to protect civilians from the scourge of such wars and conflicts, and the Council has adopted numerous resolutions and issued many presidential statements establishing mechanisms and frameworks aimed at effectively protecting civilians in conflicts, particularly women and children. China supports the Council’s efforts to conduct in-depth and extensive discussions on the topic of the protection of civilians in armed conflict in order to respond comprehensively to the major challenges to that protection. We would like to underscore the following four points.

First, national Governments should bear the primary responsibility for protecting their own civilians. All parties to an armed conflict should abide by international humanitarian law and other relevant international laws, as well as by the resolutions of the Security Council, and should fulfill their obligations to protect civilians. While the international community can render constructive assistance, it cannot replace the responsibility of national Governments and the parties to conflicts. In prosecuting and punishing actions that violate human rights and contravene international humanitarian law, and in upholding justice, it is essential that the major focus be on making full use of domestic judicial systems as the primary channel for such efforts.

Secondly, in discharging the responsibility to protect civilians, it is essential that the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations be strictly complied with, particularly those concerning respect for national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. Operations relating to the protection of civilian should be established by the Council and focus on working towards early ceasefires and solving disputes by peaceful means, such as dialogue and negotiations; they should not be conducted for any political motives or purposes. With regard to the protection of civilians, the Council should give equal attention to all situations on its agenda and adopt an equitable, fair and consistent position.

Thirdly, in order to carry out humanitarian relief operations to protect civilians, it is essential that the principles of humanitarian neutrality, fairness and independence be observed, while showing respect for the sovereignty of host countries. Only by winning their support and mitigating resistance on the part of the parties to the conflict can relief operations be effectively established. At the same time, the parties to the conflict should go out of their way to ensure that civilians have timely and effective access to humanitarian relief by improving the humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas.

Fourthly, the key to strengthening the protection of civilians in armed conflict is preventing and settling those armed conflicts. The Council should actively conduct preventive diplomacy by urging the parties to conflicts to resolve their differences through dialogue, negotiations and other peaceful means in order to achieve a political settlement and minimize human casualties. Deploying peacekeeping operations cannot be a fundamental solution to the problem of protecting civilians. The Council’s focus should be on helping host countries to strengthen their security and justice sectors and improve their ability to protect civilians.

Thank you, Madam President.

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