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Protect civilians caught in conflict
With more than 128 million people worldwide requiring immediate humanitarian aid, mostly due to war and violence, the international community should do more to protect civilians caught in conflict.

As per United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, last year alone, more than 26,000 civilians were killed or injured in many countries affected by conflict, including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq.

It is in this background that the UAE’s call on the UN Security Council and Member States to join in protecting civilians and upholding international law by focusing on prevention to address the root causes of conflict assumes deep significance.

There is a need to recognise that regional conflicts require regional solutions and reinvigorate the Council to ensure that it takes both action in response to conflicts and follows through on its existing resolutions.

As Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, explicitly pointed out at the Open Debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the failure of the Council to respond decisively to conflict around the world has exacted a profound human toll.

What is called for is a re-energised unity of purpose within the Council and renewed action to maintain international peace and security.

With the conflict in Syria, for example, now entering its 8th year, the world is experiencing the challenge of multiple armed conflicts that have severe implications for civilian communities. These conflicts have in many instances been worsened and prolonged by the Security Council’s failure to act.

The Syrian people have been denied humanitarian assistance for too long largely due to the inaction of the Council to pass any resolutions or implement adopted resolutions on Syria.

The Israeli occupation forces have been inflicting much suffering on Palestinians for decades. Israel’s recent actions at the Gaza Fence, which include attacks on doctors and paramedics, clearly violated the protection for medical personnel assisting wounded civilians guaranteed under the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law.

Ambassador Nusseibeh rightly condemned Iran’s arming of various non-state actors in order to avoid sovereign accountability for its actions, thereby putting the region at greater risk.

The UN Council needs to take bold steps towards countering the threats posed by non-state actors to better address 21st-century challenges. States such as Iran should be held accountable for their attempts to violate international law and continued violations of the UN Council’s resolutions.

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