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Consiglio di Sicurezza – Dibattito Aperto su “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts”

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatore Sebastiano Cardi, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite al Dibattito Aperto in Consiglio di Sicurezza su “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts” —

Mr. President,

at the outset, I wish to thank the Polish Presidency of the Council for organising this briefing, as well all the briefers, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Ms. Hanaa Edwar from the civil society.

Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the European Union and to be delivered by Switzerland on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians, and by Qatar on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to protect, which we co-chair, and wishes to add the following remarks in its national capacity.

Civilians suffer enormous consequences of armed conflicts and insecurity in a wide array of circumstances, including targeted attacks, indirect consequences of internal conflicts and urban warfare, massive displacement, use of starvation as a method of war. For those reasons, we strongly believe that the protection of civilians – in particular women, children and persons with disabilities – must be at the core of the UN System agenda and of all its activities. We also believe that the protection of civilians is a fundamental duty and obligation that each Member State and the international community as a whole must fulfil.

Essential precondition to ensure protection of civilians is a full compliance in all circumstances with the cardinal principles of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their protocols, Human Rights and Refugee Law. In this regard, a strong link between accountability and prevention must be achieved. On the one hand, serious violations of international humanitarian law and of relevant UNSC resolutions must be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators be brought to justice including, where applicable, through ICC referrals or other international tribunals; on the other hand, mechanisms of “early warning” and “early action” for prevention are instrumental to raise awareness and to adopt an “atrocity prevention” lens in possible conflict situations.

We fully back, in this regard, the long-term holistic approach to the protection of civilians outlined by the Secretary-General in his latest report, consisting of addressing conflicts’ root causes, advocating for respect of International Humanitarian Law, also towards non-state armed groups, and ensuring accountability.

Mr. President,

in this framework we recall the landmark UNSC Resolution 2286 on the protection of humanitarian and healthcare facilities and personnel: two years after its consensual adoption, we need now its urgent and full implementation, as attacks on hospitals and humanitarian convoys continue unabated. We urge not only that healthcare facilities and personnel not be targeted in the contexts of conflicts, but also that safe and unimpeded humanitarian passage be guaranteed to them, as critical condition for an effective and timely provision of humanitarian assistance.

In the context of increasing indiscriminate attacks against civilians, we are particularly alarmed by those affecting children, who suffer the most devastating effects of conflicts. Italy condemns in the strongest possible terms attacks directed against schools, as well as any military use of schools, recalling in this regard the Safe School Declaration, which we urge more Member States to subscribe to.

In line with our strong commitment to the “Call to Action on Protection from Gender Based Violence in Emergencies”, Italy believes a gender-oriented approach is key to prevent and respond to emergency situations.

Finally Mr.President, peace-keeping missions should effectively and proactively implement their protection of civilians mandate, in line with the Kigali Principles, that Italy has subscribed.

I thank you very much