The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative  of the Republic of South Africa  to the United Nations, for the Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians  and Healthcare in Armed Conflict

New York, 25 May 2017

Mr President,

We congratulate you and your delegation for the able manner in  which  you  are presiding over the Security Council. Thank you for organizing this open debate on such an important issue.

We also thank the Secretary-General for his briefing as well the Representative of the ICRC Ms Christine Beerli and Mr Bruno Stagno for their briefings. We align ourselves with the statement delivered by the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Debates of this nature are necessary as protecting  civilians  from the scourge  of war is at the core of the Security Council's mandate of maintaining international peace and security. If the Council cannot play its role in this regard, it then  fails  in  its responsibilities towards the international  community it serves.

Mr President,

We wish to begin by commending the humanitarian workers and medical staff who carry out their duties so valiantly, often under the most difficult of circumstances. South Africa has been involved in a number of initiatives that highlight the circumstances in which health care and humanitarian workers operate, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent's Healthcare in Danger Project.

We wish to underline that, whilst it remains the primary responsibility of States to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel and health workers within their borders, all parties including armed opposition groups must also bear responsibility for ensuring that civilians and health workers are protected. All parties to a conflict should fully comply with their obligations under international law, as stated in Resolution 2286 (2016).

Furthermore, we believe that Member States have an obligation under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate the safe and unhindered  passage  of humanitarian relief, including medical missions, their personnel and supplies.

Mr President,

My delegation wishes to emphasize the following four points:

Firstly, we support the Secretary General's call for increased efforts in mediation and preventive diplomacy in our quest to protect civilians. The Security Council should therefore ensure that the protection of civilians remains a core aspect of all political strategies to prevent and resolve conflicts. In pursuing this goal, we call on the United Nations to strengthen and streamline regional partnerships including the UN/AU partnership in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians and health workers.

Secondly, South Africa supports the adoption and implementation  of  measures pursuant to Security Council resolution 2286 (2016), which emphasizes the protection of the wounded and sick, medical personnel, medical facilities and  equipment,  and  to share best practices and lessons learnt. We reiterate that the selective application of the protection of civilians mandate undermines the credibility of the international  community in pursuing this goal.

Thirdly, the Security Council should at all times condemn all instances of arbitrary withholding of consent to impartial humanitarian relief operations or any actions to deprive civilians of means indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding access to relief. Such acts constitute violations of international humanitarian law and are therefore unacceptable.

Lastly, we call on all parties to conflicts to comply with their obligations to respect and protect humanitarian and medical personnel and objects, as well as condemn direct and indiscriminate attacks in this regard. The Council should ensure that activities of this nature are investigated and do not go unpunished. Ensuring accountability for these crimes is crucial in ensuring that the credibility of the United Nations is maintained, which is key to delivering global justice.

I thank you.


Rev. Thursday, 02-Nov-2017 12:53 PM