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Statement by H.E. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 22 May 2018

22.05.2018

Mr. President,

Thank you for convening today’s ministerial level open debate on a very timely and critically important topic. Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

As described extensively in the Secretary-General’s annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, we continue to witness the grim reality of growing numbers of civilians killed in conflicts, as well as ongoing violations of the international humanitarian law and human rights law. Over the years, a number of landmark resolutions have been adopted, such as 1894 (2009) prioritizing the protection of civilians in the context of the UN peacekeeping operations, as well as 2286 (2016) dedicated on the protection of medical care in conflict situations. We recognize the progress that has been made, but at the same time emphasize the need to take further steps in fully implementing those and other relevant resolutions. We need full and unimpeded humanitarian access to the people in desperate need of it, and we need to ensure that those helping will be safe as well.

Mr. President,

The primary responsibility of states is to ensure the protection of their people and in this regard, I would like to emphasize the paramount importance of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. More needs to be done in addressing the root causes of conflict, finding avenues to promote political dialogue, and creating truly inclusive societies.  Estonia fully supports the Secretary-General´s reform agenda and the sustaining peace concept, placing also prevention and sustaining peace at the core of the UN´s work.
 
Furthermore, in terms of preparing the peacekeepers and other UN staff that will be deployed to the missions, education and training in international humanitarian law has an important role in supporting efforts to halt and prevent acts of violence, attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel as well as medical facilities. References to mission-specific legal issues prior to deployment could prove to be valuable and lead to better application of the international law, as well as complement the overall training procedure of the troops and raise awareness.

From our part, in Estonia we have ratified the main instruments of international humanitarian law with regard to the protection of civilians and have introduced the necessary domestic regulations for their enforcement. Every measure has been taken to ensure that our military personnel does not violate international law when carrying out their duties and that they are trained to comply with the obligations to protect civilians as agreed by Kigali principles.

Finally, Mr. President, let me emphasize the importance of accountability – perpetrators must be brought to justice and states must ensure that those responsible do not operate with impunity. In this regard, let me also underline the role of International Criminal Court in cases where investigations or prosecutions at the national level are not possible. We encourage states to cooperate with ICC and Security Council to refer matters to ICC. In cases already referred to the ICC, further support from the Security Council is of paramount importance.

Thank you!

 

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