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Statement by Ambassador LIU Jieyi at the Security Council Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

2016/06/10

China appreciates the initiative of France to hold today's open debate on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations. We welcome Foreign Minister Ayrault's presence in New York to preside over the meeting. We also welcome His Excellency Mr. Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic. We also thank His Excellency Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his briefing. And we listened attentively to the briefing by Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali suffered terrorist bomb attacks on 31 May, in which the young Chinese peacekeeper Shen Liangliang unfortunately lost his life. He had devoted his precious life to the cause of peace. His body returned to China yesterday, where he will forever rest in the soil of his homeland.

Nevertheless, China's commitment to the peacekeeping cause is unflinching, and our support for United Nations peacekeeping operations will remain unswerving. United Nations peacekeeping operations are an important means of safeguarding world peace, security and stability. The Security Council adopted resolution 1265 (1999) in 1999, while more recently it has adopted many other resolutions and presidential statements on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, thereby establishing a legal framework for protecting civilians in armed conflict. Protecting civilians has also become a mandate conferred on United Nations peacekeeping operations. China supports the Council's discussing the topic of protecting civilians in peacekeeping operations. We would like to highlight several points.

First, peacekeeping operations, when implementing the mandate of protecting civilians, should, on the premise of respecting the ownership of host countries, clarify their perimeters, conditions and limits; maintain objectivity and neutrality; ensure the recognition and support of the host countries and the international community; and form useful complementarity with the operations of host countries. Peacekeeping operations cannot replace the responsibilities and duties of host country Governments or parties to the conflict to protect civilians, and they should try to avoid becoming a party to the conflict.

Secondly, when formulating the mandate to protect civilians, the Council should comprehensively take into account the prevailing circumstances and specific needs of host countries, as well as the conditions and capacities of the peacekeeping missions, and ensure that related mandates are specific, clear, realistic and viable. The Council should assess the implementation of the mandates by the mission in a dynamic manner and make timely adjustments in accordance with the changing circumstances. The international community should strengthen the capacity-building of the troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and ensure that peacekeeping missions acquire the equipment and resources needed for completing their mandate.

Thirdly, advancing the political settlement of hotspot issues is the fundamental way to attain the goal of protecting civilians. The international community should strengthen the sense of urgency and the political settlement of regional hotspot issues, and ensure sustained protection for civilians in conflict areas. Peacekeeping operations should fully use their own advantages to actively promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, work with the related efforts of the international community to seek political settlement of hotspot issues, and create conditions and an environment conducive to advancing the process of political settlement of the hotspot issues.

Fourthly, protecting civilians requires emphasis to be placed on the role of the African Union and other regional organizations. Nearly 60 per cent of peacekeeping operations are deployed on the African continent. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Economic Community of Central African States and other regional and subregional organizations know best the realities of Africa and can therefore come up with responsive recommendations designed to protect civilians. Peacekeeping operations should pay attention to strengthening communication with the African Union and other regional and subregional organizations, fully use the role of these organizations and, with respect to the protection of civilians, listen carefully to their opinions and recommendations so as to support the resolution of African problems in an African manner.

Fifthly, it is essential to prioritize addressing sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. Peacekeepers are devoted to the noble cause of maintaining international peace and security, yet in the course of doing so a handful have been implicated in sexual exploitation and abuse in some countries, seriously damaging the reputation and contravening the purposes of peacekeeping operations. The Council, the Secretariat, TCCs and host countries should strengthen their cooperation, resolutely implement a zero-tolerance policy, firmly punish acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by permitting no impunity, bring perpetrators to account, restore justice to the victims and uphold the image and reputation of peacekeeping operations.

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