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


Madam President,

China appreciates the Lithuanian initiative to hold an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. I wish to thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights Pillay, Under-Secretary-General Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General Amos for their briefings. China also listened carefully to the statement made by the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1265 (1999), on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. In the past 15 years, the Security Council has adopted multiple resolutions and presidential statements and laid down the legal framework for strengthening the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Protecting civilians has become one of the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

As the nature and characteristics of conflicts evolve over time, civilians of some countries and regions continue to suffer from the impact of armed conflict. The protection of civilians remains an arduous task for the international community. China supports holding in-depth discussions in the Security Council on the challenges faced in the protection of civilians in armed conflict and making pragmatic and effective efforts to achieve constructive results to that end. I should like to focus on the following four points.

First, all parties in an armed conflict must comply with their obligation to protect civilians. The primary responsibility in protecting innocent civilians from the harm of conflict and wars lies with national Governments. At the same time, other parties involved in a conflict must also fully comply with international humanitarian law and the relevant Security Council resolutions and spare no efforts in protecting civilians. The assistance provided by the international community and external organizations must be in line with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries concerned. In addressing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the first priority should be given to the role of national judicial institutions, which are the main channels in that field.

Secondly, in strengthening the protection of civilians in armed conflict, it is necessary to start from preventing and resolving conflicts and address the root causes so as to ease the suffering that armed conflicts inflict on civilians. The protection of civilians must be a part of the political process in the resolution of conflicts. Advancing political dialogue, reconciliation processes, strengthening security sectors, economic recovery and social development are comprehensive means for creating an environment of durable peace. The Security Council must make vigorous efforts in preventive diplomacy to prevent and contain the escalation of conflict and promote political solutions so as to achieve lasting peace as soon as possible and reduce the impact of conflicts on civilians.

Thirdly, in the protection of civilians, peacekeeping operations must strictly comply with Security Council mandates, respect the sovereignty of the countries concerned, maintain objectivity and impartiality and avoid becoming a party to the conflict. A peacekeeping operation’s mandate to protect civilians is one of the important measures to help the countries concerned better protect civilians. As such, it cannot be a substitute for the responsibility and obligations to protect civilians incumbent upon States’ Governments and parties to the conflicts. In developing the mandate to protect civilians, it is necessary to give comprehensive consideration to the situation on the ground and the peacekeeping operation’s ability and conditions and ensure that the mandates are clear, realistic and feasible and that the resources and equipment are adequate and fully guaranteed. Missions should also draw up their strategies and operational plans in the light of the situation on the ground and enhance internal coordination to ensure effective implementation of their mandates.

Fourthly, humanitarian aid operations in conflict situations must comply with United Nations guiding principles on humanitarian aid, maintain their humanitarian nature, neutrality, objectivity and impartiality, and fully respect the sovereignty of the countries concerned. All parties to a conflict must ensure timely access to affected civilians in order to provide humanitarian relief. That is a major premise for the improvement of the humanitarian situation in conflict areas and the protection of civilians.Humanitarian aid agencies must enhance communication with the countries concerned and, on the basis of winning confidence and support from all parties to ensure the effective implementation of humanitarian aid operations.

Thank you, Madam President.

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