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Statement by Ambassador WU Haitao at the Security Council Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

2016/09/28

(Photo by Li Muzi, Xinhua News Agency)

China commends the initiative taken by New Zealand to convene this meeting on the protection of medical personnel and facilities in armed conflict. I wish to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his briefing. China has listened carefully to the statements by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mr. Peter Maurer, and the representative of Médecins Sans Frontières, Ms. Joanne Liu.

Last May, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2286 (2016), which calls upon the parties to armed conflicts to enhance the protection of medical personnel and facilities in armed conflict. This underscores the importance that the international community attaches to the question of the protection of medical personnel and facilities in armed conflict. China pays tribute medical personnel and the relevant humanitarian agencies for their humanitarian spirit in healing the wounded and rescuing the dying in extremely harsh conditions and at the risk of their own safety. I would like to make the following points.

First, emphasis should be put on promoting political processes to resolve regional hotspot issues. Only by ending conflict will it be possible once and for all to eliminate security threats to medical personnel and medical facilities. The Security Council should actively work to promote dialogue and negotiations and facilitate efforts by the parties to conflict to end them and resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiations, thereby eliminating conflicts. The international community should also adhere to a fair and objective stance and play a constructive role in promoting political solutions, so as to create favorable conditions for protecting the safety and security of medical personnel and facilities during armed conflicts.

Secondly, it is incumbent upon the Governments concerned and the parties to the conflict to protect medical personnel and facilities in armed conflicts. The Governments concerned bear the primary responsibility for protecting civilians within their borders, and they should therefore strengthen their measures to protect medical personnel and facilities. The countries concerned should investigate, in accordance with the law, violent acts, including attacks against and threats to medical personnel and facilities in armed conflicts. Parties to a conflict should adhere to international humanitarian law and abide by Council resolutions and fulfill their duty to protect and allow access to humanitarian assistance. The international community should provide support and assistance on the basis of full consultations with the countries concerned.

Thirdly, humanitarian operations must win the understanding and trust of the parties concerned. In armed conflicts, as medical personnel and humanitarian agencies carry out operations in the discharge of their medical duties, they must adhere to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries concerned; adhere to impartiality, fairness and independence; follow guiding humanitarian principles and avoid getting involved in conflicts. Such practices will help to protect medical personnel and facilities in armed conflict.

Fourthly, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies should work in synergy to protect medical personnel and facilities. The United Nations should conduct an in-depth study and comprehensive assessment of humanitarian risks and challenges in armed conflicts. On the basis of the views of the countries concerned, it should establish effective mechanisms for communicating with medical personnel and humanitarian agencies and engage in the timely exchange of information concerning the situation on the ground, so as to establish conditions favorable to the protection of humanitarian efforts, medical personnel and their facilities. On their part, medical personnel and relevant agencies also need to exercise their own awareness of risks and enhance their own safety and protection.

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