Statement delivered by

HE Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Permanent Representative

at UNSC Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

22 May 2018 

Thank you Madam President,

I wish to thank Poland in its capacity as the President of the Security Council for the month of May for convening this important Open Debate.  

As many speakers have already noted, it is two years to this May, since the Council adopted the landmark Resolution 2286 of 2016 that calls for protection of civilians, especially the protection for medical care provision in conflict situations.  

The protection of civilians should be the first objective in managing any conflict. The reality, however, is that the character of conflicts have undergone radical changes in recent years. Non-State actors, fighting on their own, or on behalf of other States, are replacing States as the key participants in conflicts. In these situations, the respect, or even the recognition of international humanitarian law, have been ignored.  

This situation requires finding ways in which attacks on civilians are stopped, and the perpetrators are held accountable. Most importantly, we have to start thinking of ways in which such attacks could be prevented. This is where the civil society organisations can play an important role in creating awareness among the potential and actual warring parties, on the need to protect civilians, especially protecting the provision of humanitarian aid. 

Open debates of this nature are extremely important to draw attention to the seriousness of situations, such as the attacks on civilians in conflicts in various parts of the world, and offer suggestions in finding remedies. It is quite another matter for the Security Council to take immediate action, as the Charter requires, in protecting unarmed civilians. It is unacceptable that the Council failed to take actions when unarmed civilians were attacked and killed in Palestine last week.  

Every member of the Council, and indeed every member of the United Nations, has a solemn responsibility to respect and implement the Resolutions of both the Council and the General Assembly. If any Member decides to ignore the Resolutions, it will harm the legitimacy and credibility of the UN, in particular, the Security Council.  

The Maldives is competing for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the term 2019 to 2020 at the elections to be held on 8 of June. When elected, the Maldives will work with the Members of the Council, the troop contributing countries, and civil society organisations, to create greater level of awareness on the respect for international humanitarian law.  

The primacy of upholding humanitarian law should be a crucial element in the preparation of peacekeepers and indeed in designing peacekeeping missions. For peacekeeping missions have a significant role to play in protecting civilians and protecting the provision of humanitarian aid. The Maldives has been reiterating its call for constructing an analytical framework that enables the Council to consider the necessary changes to the mandates of the UN peacekeeping mission. Such a framework can start by establishing, at the inception level, greater coordination and operational coherence between peacekeeping operations and the UN country team on the ground. Peacekeepers can only execute a mandate fully if they are given the necessary resources.  

The Maldives stands ready to be the partner in saving the civilians trapped in, or threatened by, conflicts. We will help in crafting shared solutions for a shared destiny.

I thank you.