Statement by Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative Of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the Security Council Open Debate on “Protection of civilians in armed conflict” New York, 12 February 2013
Let me begin by joining other delegations in congratulating Republic of Korea on its assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council. I thank your delegation for scheduling this very important open debate. Allow me also to express our sincere thanks to the Secretary-General, including High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and ICRC Director for International Law and Cooperation Philip Spoerri, for their briefing this morning.
The concept of protection of civilians is founded in the universally accepted rules of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law which are set out in a range of international legal instruments, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols contain specific rules to protect civilians. In situations that are not covered by these treaties, in particular internal disturbances, civilians are protected by the fundamental principles of humanitarian law, by most of religious values and ethics and by human rights law. Ironically, yet a large number of civilians continue to be exposed to the atrocities of conflict!
My delegation condemns all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In many situations, especially, women and children continue to be subject to various forms of violence. We are deeply concerned at the availability and use of arms, explosive weapons in populated areas as a violation of international law, as well as increasing threats against the security and delivery of health care facilities, and the failure to comply with international humanitarian law. I call on all concerned to ensure justice for perpetrators of violations against civilians. We stress on the need to combat impunity, safeguard access for humanitarian assistance and protect the safety of humanitarian aid workers. For example, total disregard and rejection of humanitarian and international laws and values, especially being committed by occupation forces in the occupied territories of Palestine for years are a disgrace for humanity and also for the people of Israel.
It is encouraging that the Council’s informal expert group on the protection of civilians continued to meet regularly. In the period since the 2012 open debate, it considered the mandates of the seven UN missions: UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, UN Mission in South Sudan, UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire, AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the proposed African-led International Support Mission to Mali.
Bangladesh affirms its commitment to the protection of civilians. To ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict, my delegation would like to highlight few issues.
First, protection relates to prevention and the building of a mindset of culture of peace. Culture of Peace is designed to inculcate a mind-set of tolerance, diversity, friendship, love and respect for others as all violence emanates from a mindset of hatred and intolerance. The preventive capacity of the UN must be enhanced and the Member States need to take steps to inculcate the values of peace, tolerance and harmony that contribute to long-term prevention.
Second, Being one of the largest troop-contributing countries, we believe that there needs to be a closer dialogue between the Council and troop-contributing countries as they can provide valuable information about the situation on the ground. The presence of uniformed female personnel may also play a pivotal role in a State’s ability to protect its citizens. Here I take this opportunity to refer to the efforts of the all-female Formed Bangladesh Police Unit working in peace keeping missions in Haiti and DRC.
Third, there should be strengthened protection mandate and compliance by UN peacekeepers.
Fourth, international efforts including the use of force should be the last resort, while respecting the relevant provisions of the UN Charter. If peaceful means and mediation are exhausted, force could be used with proper authorization by the Security Council or, in exceptional circumstances by the General Assembly (in line with resolution 377 (V).
Fifth, considering that all civilians affected by armed conflict deserve help, enhanced humanitarian access by the states and parties concerned, in compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, should be ensured.
Sixth, accountability for violations of the law, should be ensured.
Seventh, it may be reminded that adequate provisions should be made for security and safety of the peacekeepers while assigning such mandate.
In conclusion, my delegation urges all parties to conflicts to comply with the letter and spirit of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, to ensure protection of the lives and property of civilians and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid. We call on the parties to conflicts to strengthen the protection of civilians through heightened awareness at all levels, particularly through training, orders and instructions issued to armed forces.
I thank you, Mr. President.