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Italy’s Statement at Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts.

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Mr. President,

Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians. We express our gratitude to the Mozambique Presidency for convening this crucial annual Open Debate.

As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1265 and the 75th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, it is imperative to evaluate the current state of civilian protection.

Conflicts worldwide have proliferated and become increasingly complex. The annual report of the Secretary-General indicates a staggering 72% increase in civilian deaths in 2023 compared to the previous year. The proportion of women and children killed has doubled and tripled, respectively.   The impact of conflicts on civilians is particularly acute when fighting occurs in populated areas and involved the use of explosive weapons.  Attacks on critical infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, homes, have heightened the risks for civilians – from Gaza to Ukraine, from Sudan to Myanmar. Additionally, climate change and natural disasters are exacerbating the suffering.  The manner in which hostilities are conducted, along with the obstruction of humanitarian access, is contributing to unprecedented levels of hunger.

Italy reiterates its commitment to upholding the rule of law, humanitarian principles and international law, as well as protecting human rights and dignity for all individuals, as also endorsed in the last G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in the framework of Italy’s G7 Presidency. Strengthening compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law is central to the agenda of protecting civilians. All parties to conflict must ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access. IHL prohibits depriving civilians of supplies essential to their survival and targeting humanitarian and medical personnel.

Let me focus on two specific aspects of the protection of civilians in armed conflict:

First, the role of peacekeepers in the protection of civilians remains of the utmost importance. Over the years, Italian peacekeepers have developed a successful model based on respect for local culture, impartiality, and close engagement to the civilian population. While there is no one-size-fits-all model, we believe that the specific training received by both Italian and non-Italian peacekeepers on the Protection of Civilians has been a crucial asset wherever they operated. Based on our national experience, it is essential to promote preparedness for the protection of civilian among troop – and police- contributing countries, and to foster a mindset centered on professional, targeted pre-deployment training. To date, approximately 600 UN peacekeepers from 35 countries have received focused training on protection of civilians in Italy, at the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units. This effort will continue.

Second, recognizing food security as a longstanding priority, Italy is resolutely committed to addressing this critical and multifaceted issue. Conflict has remained the primary driver of food crises since 2018, affecting on average around half of the total population in acute food insecurity each year. In fact, armed conflicts lead to the disruption of food systems and markets, increase of food prices and displacement people and livestock. Moreover, food insecurity can represent an immediate danger to the survival of the affected civilians.

As host country of the Rome-based United Nations food agencies, and as Chair of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition here in New York, Italy is dedicated to maintaining high levels of attention on this vital matter.

Mr. President,

The international community must intensify its efforts to create a safer and more dignified future for all civilians affected by conflicts worldwide. Let’s seize every opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the full respect of the law in armed conflicts. Italy stands ready to do its part.

I thank you.