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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Open Debate On Ensuring the Security and Dignity of Civilians in Conflict: Addressing Food Insecurity and Protecting Essential Services

2023-05-23 16:40

Madam President, 

I welcome the presence of His Excellency Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, for attending today's meeting. I wish to thank Secretary-general Guterres and President Spoljaric for their briefings. I have listened carefully to the statement by Ms. Mounkaila. 

China has stated its position on the protection of civilians in armed conflict on many occasions. We strongly appeal all parties to the conflict to abide effectively by the international law, including international humanitarian law, and to implement their obligation for the protection of civilians. Today, I will focus my remarks on the issue of food security.

Civilians are the largest victims of armed conflict. Food crisis worsens the humanitarian situation, further compounding the plight of civilians. According to the latest UN report on global food crisis, about 250 million people are now food insecure, and among those in acute food insecure situations, about two-thirds live in conflict-affected areas. Food comes first in sustaining life. Food Security touches upon the very basic human right, that is, the right to life, therefore the Council and the international community should accord high attention through coordinated action and integrated approach. 

First, pushing for the political settlement of hotspot issues. So long as conflicts persist, there is no basis to speak of civilian safety and security, making hunger more entrenched and harder to tackle. We call upon the parties to the conflict to abide by Council Resolutions 2417 and 2573, effectively implement their obligation under international law, including humanitarian law, to protect civilians, give priority attention to vulnerable groups, including women and children, and to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian assistance. All countries should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, advocate cooperation, and reject confrontation, so as to create a good environment for peace. It is imperative to persevere in resolving disputes through peaceful means, including dialogue, negotiation, and mediation, and help conflict countries attain peace and stability without delay, so as to create favorable conditions for the protection of civilians and to ensure food security.

Second, increasing emergency assistance. Food crisis is a result of complex factors that are interwoven. The priority is to take effective measures to ease the needs faced by some countries. We call upon traditional donors to increase their assistance and to provide more emergency humanitarian assistance in terms of food and financing to the countries that are in need of them. Assistance should not be regarded as a lever for political gain. There should be no additional conditions attached. And there should be no selectivity when it comes to assistance. The humanitarian requirements of all receiving countries should be treated equally. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan equally requires our attention. The United States has long seized the overseas assets of Afghanistan, which has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country. We urge the United States to heed the strong appeals of the Afghan people and the international community and to return to the Afghan people those assets that are legitimately theirs, so that they can be used to tackle humanitarian challenges, including food shortages within the country. 

Third, maintaining overall stability of supply chain and international food price. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was renewed again recently. This will be conducive to ensuring the international food supply. Therefore China welcomes this development. China commends Secretary-General Guterres and the relevant parties for their unremitting efforts in making this happen. We support a balanced, comprehensive, and effective implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the MOU on the export of Russia’s food and fertilizer. We support the United Nations in playing a major role here so as to remove the present obstacles faced by Russia in terms of its food and fertilizer export. 

It should be pointed out that food, as a major international stable commodity, has been highly financialized and monetized. The main driver of this round of massive hike in food price is the adoption by individual countries in recent years of extraordinary monetary policis featuring quantitative easing. We urge relevant countries, in designing their monetary policies, to give serious attention to the spillover effect of their policies, and show more care to the interests of the developing countries and how these policies are received, so as to avoid artificial distortion and abnormal fluctuation of the food prices. At the same time, we firmly reject weaponizing economic development and engaging in unilateral sanctions and decoupling and disrupting international supply chain, with the aim to harm other countries’ enterprises and attack their infrastructure. This practice not only affects the stability of the food market, but also is in violation of international law, therefore adding more elements of uncertainty and instability to the world. 

Fourth, creating favorable conditions for developing countries to resolve their food problem. Many developing countries are endowed with rich agricultural resources, and thus have all the potential to feed themselves. However, as long-standing victims of colonialism, these countries are plagued by economy featuring single structure, and have long been miring at the very bottom of the international value chain. As such, they lack the resources and conditions to rely on themselves to achieve food sufficiency. Therefore, we must promote the establishment of a more equitable and fairer international economic order and provide more financial and technical support to developing countries to help them achieve agricultural transformation based on their own conditions, so as to enhance their food security. 

The agriculture subsidies practiced by developed countries have severely distorted the international market for agricultural products and de-incentivized the farming population in developing countries. We call upon relevant countries to change their subsidy policies so as to reduce the impact on the market of agro-products. of developing countries. At the same time, major international food companies should also honor their social responsibility to reduce their monopolistic power on agricultural resources, including seeds and the pricing of agricultural products. With regard to supporting and helping developing countries, what matters is not who has the loudest slogan, but who has taken more concrete actions. 

Fifth, increasing international coordination to form synergy. The Security Council should take a balanced approach to security and development and lay emphasis on agriculture, rural and farmer-related issues in peacebuilding and help the relevant countries increase their capacity building to resolve the food crisis from the source, the UN food and agricultural institutions, UN development agencies, and international financial institutions should each leverage their advantage and mobilize broad international resources, and deepen cooperation, so as to provide more support to post-conflict countries and developing countries in terms of financing, technology, training, and management to help them develop agriculture with their own characteristics based on their own conditions and develop a diversified supply chain. 

Climate change is a major factor in the reduction of food production. The United Nations should play its role as the main convener to promote and deepen international action on climate governance. Developed countries should honor their historical responsibility and financial commitments to respond to climate change and help developing countries increase resilience in terms of climate change and food security.

Madam President, 

China is a long-standing promoter and contributor to international food security. In recent years, China has been providing emergency food aid to more than 50 countries, easing the need of millions of people. we apply the dual approach of blood transfusion and blood generation, and have provided support in terms of farming technology demo centers, grain storage and processing infrastructure, and provided technologies with regard to hybrid rice and Juncao farming techniques to help developing countries enhance their overall ability of food production, supply, and security. China, with the rest of the world, will continue to work in order to implement the Global Development Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping and deepen cooperation of food cooperation and poverty reduction, so as to build a world without war and conflict and free from hunger and poverty. 

Thank you, Madam President.

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