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

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al Dibattito Aperto in Consiglio di Sicurezza su “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict” —

Mr. President,

I thank you for organizing this annual Open Debate and all the briefers for their important presentations.

Italy aligns itself with the statement to be delivered shortly by the European Union and to the one made by Switzerland on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians.

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the four Geneva Conventions, it is essential to reaffirm the importance of international humanitarian law and to strengthen our efforts to guarantee its respect, implementation and promotion. The role of non-state actors in armed conflicts, the new tactics of warfare, the absence of clear battlefields and the increasing number of parties in conflict are posing new threats to international humanitarian law, to the principle of humanity and the dignity of every human being in situation of conflict, especially the most vulnerable ones. We must reaffirm in the most urgent terms, the need to ensure the protection of civilians under all circumstances and in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

Mr. President,
Italy is strongly committed to protect and promote international humanitarian law and to implement the principle of accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in situations of armed conflict.
My Country attaches particular importance to the protection of the most vulnerable categories among civilians. Children. In this regard, we strongly condemn all attacks against schools, as well as any military use of educational facilities, in accordance with the Safe School Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, which we hope will be subscribed by a growing number of Member States. Persons with disabilities. We call for the full implementation of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. Women. As we stated in the recent important Open Debate of the Security Council on sexual violence in conflict, we strongly condemn that sexual and gender-based violence continues to be widely employed as a tactic of war, and we support a gender-oriented approach to emergency situations and to the protection of civilians, recalling our strong commitment to the “Call to Action on Protection from Gender Based Violence in Emergencies”, all the relevant UN acquis on this subject as well as the Secretary General’s recommendations contained in his last report on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

UN Peace operations are still a very powerful instrument at the disposal of the International community in the pursuit of sustainable peace and the fulfilment of its responsibility to protect civilians. Therefore, peacekeepers should be trained and equipped in order to fully implement their protection of civilians mandate. We should enhance our efforts and fulfill the commitments we took in the framework of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, which provide a comprehensive and whole-of-mission approach to protection of civilians.

Furthermore, we welcome the recommendations formulated by the Secretary-General in his report, and in particular his calls to: develop national policy frameworks for the protection of civilians; step up advocacy efforts to ensure protection of civilians; promote stronger accountability, which in our view must be achieved also through targeted measures, the establishment or renewal of fact-finding bodies and commissions of enquiry and a larger use of referrals to the International Criminal Court.

To conclude, as we look back and reflect on 20 years of protection of civilians, we must, on the one hand, build on what has been already achieved since resolution 1265 in terms of implementation of all resolutions and international norms adopted thus far. On the other hand, we have to look ahead in order to keep the Protection of Civilians high on the agenda as a cornerstone of the activity of the Security Council and a fundamental duty and responsibility of the international community as a whole.

I thank you.