Question of Palestine home || Permalink || About UNISPAL || Search

Protection des populations civiles dans les conflits armés - Débat du Conseil de sécurité - Communiqué de presse (extraits) (11 novembre 2009) Français
Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter

Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
Security Council
11 November 2009


Security Council
SC/9786

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


Security Council
6216th Meeting (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL, EXPRESSING DEEP REGRET OVER TOLL ON CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT,


REAFFIRMS READINESS TO RESPOND TO THEIR DELIBERATE TARGETING

Adopted Unanimously, Resolution 1894 (2009) Demands
Strict Compliance with International Humanitarian, Human Rights, Refugee Law


/...

Unanimously adopting resolution 1894 (2009) – and thereby marking the tenth anniversary of its systematic work on the protection of civilians in armed conflict -- the Council demanded that parties to conflict comply strictly with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, as well as to Council resolutions calling for the protection of civilians and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid.
/...

Background

The Security Council today considered its thematic item of “Protection of civilians in armed conflict” 10 years after of its initial consideration of the matter, resulting in adoption on 17 September 1999 of resolution 1265.  Since then, the Council has adopted four resolutions and several presidential statements and held regular debates on the issue.  Consideration of protection issues has been included in an increasing number of country-specific resolutions and the mandates of peacekeeping missions.

According to a background paper issued by the Permanent Mission of Austria, which holds the Presidency for the month of November, the measures taken by the Council and the development of international norms and standards for the protection of civilians have not been fully matched by the requisite actions on the ground.

As underlined by the Secretary-General in his report on the issue (document S/2009/277) and during the Council’s last meeting on the subject on 26 June this year (see Press Release SC/9692), one of the main challenges faced was the failure of parties to conflict, including non-State armed groups, to respect fully, and to ensure the respect of, their obligations under international law.

The Council has a key role to play in enhancing compliance and promoting accountability for violations and international humanitarian and human rights law.  The absence of accountability allows violations to thrive.  The means at the Council’s disposal range from consistently condemning violations to applying targeted measures and requesting monitoring, reporting and fact-finding.

Regarding the implementation of protection mandates by peacekeeping mission, the paper notes that the disparity between mandated tasks and allocated resources and capabilities, as well as the information gap between the field and Headquarters -- including the Council -- are important challenges that need to be tackled.  Effective implementation of protection tasks requires close consultations between the Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries prior to the establishment of peacekeeping missions, as well as during their lifecycle.

Comprehensive, accurate and detailed reporting on the protection of civilians, including on constraints on safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors, is a prerequisite for the Council and other stakeholders to be able to take timely and informed action.  It would also allow the Council to adjust mandates to reflect changes on the ground.

/...

IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) ...

/...

The Palestinian people, he said, continued to suffer the most inhuman treatment from the occupying Power, Israel.  He referred to casualties that had resulted from the tactics of the Gaza operation, including the use of proscribed weapons and the obstruction of humanitarian assistance.  He hoped the support by certain Council members for Israel would not prevent the Council from carrying out its responsibilities in holding Israel to account, so that the body could regain its credibility.

He asserted that there were countries that took the high moral ground when they preached in the Council, but did nothing to stop Israel’s violations and even provided the weaponry that Israel used to kill and maim Palestinians.  He stressed the Council must do more to prevent the outbreak of conflict, must act in a balanced and transparent manner, and must act urgently to realize the importance of the matter, which had to do with the very dignity of man, he said.

ROSEMARY A. DICARLO ( United States) said the resolution just adopted consolidated a decade of efforts to better protect civilians in armed conflict.  As a result, millions of civilians had been saved in, among other countries, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste.  However, in many places, innocents bore the brunt of conflict, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Sudan and Somalia.  She said the Palestinians and Israelis continued to suffer, as well.

/...

MAGED ABDEL FATAH ABDEL AZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, ...

/...

Turning to the persistence of violations of international law by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he called upon the Council to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the Geneva Conventions in that situation.  It was important for the General Assembly, as well as the Security Council, to both protect civilians and investigate violations of international law, without discrimination.  Discussions on those issues should be separated from political discussions at an early stage in order to save as many lives as possible.

/...

SALEM AL-SHAFI ( Qatar) said the protection of civilians was not a purely humanitarian concern, but rather one requiring the enforcement of international law without discrimination or selectivity.  In that regard, the most important situation in the Middle East was that of the Palestinians, who were increasingly vulnerable as a result of the growing disregard for their protection on the part of the Israeli occupation authorities.  Qatar urged the Council to pay due attention to the recommendations of the Goldstone Commission on the recent Gaza conflict.

/...

GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) said that clarity in protection mandates, accurate understanding of the threat to civilians, and guidance on operations could help peacekeeping forces and the Security Council to increase their effectiveness in the area of protection of civilians.  However, she added, the debate must not ignore the reality of terrorism, in which civilians were deliberately drawn into armed conflict.  In that reality, she said, terrorists used civilians as shields while they stored weapons, launched attacks and built military infrastructure in densely populated areas while they targeted civilians.  In that same reality, one week ago, Hamas fired a rocket with a 60-kilometre range that threatened Israel’s major population centres, while Iran supplied weapons to such terrorists and stood in manifest violation of the Council’s resolutions.

In light of that threatening reality, she said that Israel, as a democratic State in full conformity with its international obligations, sought to protect civilians while it pursued terrorists who hid amongst them as it did in Gaza, where Israel took extraordinary measures to protect all civilians, including placing more than 165,000 phone calls to warn them of pending attacks and dropping millions of leaflets to ask them to avoid areas used by Hamas terrorists.  She said that many such measures, as well as investigations into the Israeli operation, were described in a report produced by the Israeli Government that she showed to the Council.  In addition, she pointed to the statement of a military expert, Richard Kemp, who had stated that Israel did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any army in the history of warfare.

/...

AHMED ABDULRAHMAN AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates) ...

/...

Welcoming the General Assembly resolution on the follow-up to the Goldstone Report, he said he hoped proper measures would be taken to implement it.  The United Arab Emirates also supported measures undertaken in Afghanistan to guarantee the safety of humanitarian personnel in that country, and hoped technical assistance would be rendered to that country to develop its capacity to prosecute perpetrators and end impunity.  While States had the primary responsibility to protect civilians in armed conflict, regional and international cooperation was also crucial.

/...

ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland) said there was a need to move from analysis to action, and highlighted four areas of focus, that had been clearly set out in the Secretary-General’s report and the Council President’s concept paper, namely, enhancing compliance by State and non-State actors; protection of civilians by United Nations peacekeepers, safeguarding humanitarian access; and enhancing accountability.

With respect to enhancing accountability, she agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendations with respect to Sri Lanka, Gaza and Afghanistan.  Although each situation presented a complex context, it was crucial that the international community did not sacrifice or erode the principles of protection and accountability, or succumb to selectivity.  The same standards had to be applied universally.  Concerning safeguarding humanitarian access, the statistics detailing the increase of attacks on humanitarian workers were “shocking”.  Over the past three years, kidnapping of humanitarian workers has increased by 350 per cent, and last year saw the most humanitarian workers affected by violence in 12 years.

/...

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the failure of States and parties to respect and ensure respect for their legal obligations was still rampant.  Efforts must be redoubled to ensure that the protection of civilians in armed conflict was guaranteed for all civilians, without selectivity or inaction based on political considerations.  Unfortunately, selectivity and inaction by the international community, including the Council, had allowed Israel, the occupying Power, to continue with its violations of international law, international humanitarian and human rights law against civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable for its violations and war crimes had regrettably reinforced Israel’s impunity and lawlessness.

Calling the military aggression in Gaza an “appalling and fatal illustration of Israel’s complete disregard for the human rights and the right to protection of the Palestinian civilian population”, he said that Israel had continued its unlawful blockade in collective punishment of Gaza’s entire population.  Humanitarian access, one of the key components to the protection of civilians, continued to be impeded and exports were totally prohibited.  The Goldstone Report had stated that the absence of accountability and, worse, the lack of any expectation thereof, was what allowed violations to thrive.  Israel had enjoyed that culture of impunity for more than four decades, which had undermined the credibility of international law and the international system as a whole.

The situation in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory remained volatile, he said, with continued Israeli raids in the West Bank, settlement campaigns and wall construction.  Settler violence had also intensified.  In East Jerusalem, evictions and demolitions had rendered hundreds of Palestinian civilians homeless.  He asked the Council, “when will the rights of these civilians, including that of protection, be ensured”?  A clear and firm message must be sent to the occupying Power that the international community would no longer tolerate its illegal actions, violations and crimes.  That would help to break the cycle of impunity and truly ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians.

/...

Aseil Al-Shahail (Saudi Arabia) ...

/...

The debate on protecting civilians must not take place only in the Council, she said.  It must also occur during policy discussions in the Department of Field Support, the Peacebuilding Commission and United Nations peacekeeping missions, among other bodies.  The use of commissions of inquiry to examine violations of international human rights and law and to identify and prosecute perpetrators nationally and internationally sent a strong message that the protection of civilians was a United Nations priority.  The Goldstone Report had revealed flagrant violations of international law and international humanitarian law, which had resulted in the killing of 1,420 Palestinians, 1,170 of them civilians.

/...

BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said that the United Nations ability to protect civilians was widely seen as a test of the Organization’s relevance and legitimacy in times of crises.  All Member States had the responsibility to ensure that civilians were protected during armed conflict. ...

/...

... Civilians in conflict needed and expected the same attention and assistance from the United Nations and the international community wherever they were.  The people in conflict situations, such as Somalia and Palestine, also looked to the Council for assistance and protection.

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, voiced hope that today’s discussion would crystallize into effective actions to protect civilians, including those addressing the underlying causes of conflict.  The Council’s credibility was at stake in handling the extreme harm done to civilians in Gaza and it was to be hoped that today’s discussion could start a process to reverse that situation, following the General Assembly’s consideration of the Goldstone Report.

/...

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), noting that the gap between international law and action on the ground continued to widen in the area of civilian protection, recalled that during the Council’s last consideration of the issue, many speakers had condemned Israel’s flagrant violations against civilians, calling on that country to stop its illegal practices.  Israel had not heeded those calls, and continued its repressive and arbitrary practices against civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Golan Heights.

Also since that last meeting, the Goldstone Report had proved that Israel had violated international law in Gaza, he said, asking what commitments the country had honoured since the Council had placed the protection of civilians in armed conflict on its agenda.  Israel’s practice of targeting the populations of occupied Arab territories had not changed and in that context, Syria hoped that the statements made during today’s debate and others would not remain mere words.

/...

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said that, while the Council had identified measures to protect civilians in armed conflict, the reality on the ground had not changed as one would have expected with the adoption of various resolutions on the matter.  There had been many failures, in large part due to the failure of some parties to respect -- and ensure respect for -- their obligation to protect civilians.  Such a situation demanded that States do their utmost to protect civilians and promote respect for international humanitarian law, as the number of casualties in armed conflict had not declined.

By way of example, he said that in Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, more than 1.5 million people had been deprived of their basic needs and humanitarian assistance.  Gaza was “the largest prison kept by the Israeli occupying authorities”, and various reports had noted violations of international humanitarian law and human rights during that regime’s military aggression in Gaza.  The same cruelty had been carried out during that regime’s aggression against Lebanon in 2006.  Those responsible for such violations -- whether in Palestine, Lebanon or elsewhere -- should be held accountable, as it was only through ensuring accountability, and justice for the victims, that efforts to protect civilians could translate into action.

He said more work was needed to ensure compliance with the law and accountability for those who failed to respect it.  The Council would not be justified in remaining silent on the matter of war crimes by the Israeli regime, especially after independent investigative bodies had reaffirmed that such crimes had been committed.  The Council was obliged to act if the parties concerned deliberately targeted civilians, and Iran awaited its reaction to the “Goldstone Report”.  Also, Iran had noted the targeting of civilians in Afghanistan during air strikes, as well as criticism of the high number of civilian casualties as a result.  He urged States to take all measures to protect civilians.  To remain credible, the Council must understand that perpetrators of crimes against civilians must be prosecuted.

/...

ALBRECHT FREIHERR VON BOESELAGER, Minister for International Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, ...

/...

Turning to the Palestinian people, he said that the Order’s Holy Family Hospital had been providing Bethlehem and the vicinity with an exclusive, indiscriminate birthing, medical facility and maternity care.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rape and sexual violence had become rampant war tactic, the Order had, since 2007, been working with victims in the country’s east.  He said that the Order had identified how civilians caught up in armed conflicts had suffered from four sorts of violence:  all forms of direct attacks; being used as human shields; incidental and collateral damage; and deliberate attacks on aid workers, which denied civilians the care, food and shelter they needed.  Those undoubtedly violated the basic principles of international humanitarian law, which were universally binding and stipulated a certain level of human decency and civilization, he stressed.

It was just as important for those who had violated such laws to be held accountable, he added.  He urged the Security Council to endorse such principles and to condemn violations against them, partly by pressing Member States to investigate and punish those.  Failing that, the Council would have to refer gross violations to the International Criminal Court.  ...

/...


* *** *

For information media • not an official record

Follow UNISPAL RSS Twitter