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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun on Security Council Open VTC on Protection of Objects Indispensable to Survival of Civilian Populations

2021-04-28 10:30

Mr. President,

China welcomes Your Excellency to host the Security Council meeting again, and appreciates Vietnam’s initiative to convene the open debate and the careful preparations. We hope the Council will adopt the draft resolution on this issue. I also would like to thank USG Mark Lowcock, President Peter Maurer and Chairman Kevin Rudd for their briefings. Their views and recommendations will help the Council better discuss and address this important issue.

Civilians bear the brunt of armed conflict. Infrastructure for agriculture production, food security, water, power supplies, and health care, among other installations, is essential for ensuring the subsistence of civilians and improving the humanitarian situation. The protection of these facilities is an explicit requirement of international humanitarian law. In the context of the current global pandemic, it is all the more important and a shared priority for the international community to ensure the accessibility and safety of medical facilities for conflict-affected civilians.

China supports the draft resolution prepared by Vietnam, and actively participated in the discussions and consultations with other members. The resolution calls for addressing the root causes of conflict, ensuring the functionality of infrastructure in conflict affected countries, enhancing efforts to promote post-pandemic recovery and facilitating sustained peace, and welcomes international and regional cooperation in this regard. These are constructive and practical elements. The international community should adhere to the people-centered approach, addressing both symptoms and root causes and take effective and concrete actions to push for peace process, and create conditions for the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

First of all, sticking to the concept of systemic governance, and addressing the root causes of conflict through relentless efforts. Armed conflicts bring systemic risks to civilians. No egg remains intact in an overturned nest. In the event of a conflict or war, it is difficult to ensure absolute security for civilians and civilian objects. To solve this problem, we must look at the big picture and tackle it from its root. The vast majority of armed conflicts stem from extreme poverty and scarcity of resources. To promote development for peace is the fundamental way out of this conundrum. The international community should coordinate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to help conflict-affected countries and regions meet the challenges in poverty reduction and pandemic control, thus gradually eliminating the root causes of conflict.

Second, adhering to peaceful solutions to conflicts through dialogue, good offices and negotiations. At present, multiple hot-spot issues on the Council's agenda are at a critical stage. The international community should seize the opportunity to support dialogue and consultation, strengthen mediation and good offices, intensify diplomatic efforts, and prevent escalation of tensions, so as to free civilians from the ordeal of war at an early date. The Council and other UN bodies should play a coordinating role and support regional organizations that have the advantage of finding regional solutions to regional disputes, so as to forge a synergy for promoting talks for peace. All parties to conflict should respond positively to the Secretary General’s appeal for a global ceasefire, and take forward the political process through inclusive dialogue.

Third, helping host countries strengthen capacity building on the basis of clearly defined responsibilities. Governments of conflict-affected countries should assume the primary responsibility for the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. All parties to conflict must fulfill their obligations under international law to protect civilians and civilian objects, make correct distinguish between military objects and civilian installation, ensure the functionality of infrastructure, and prioritize the needs of vulnerable groups such as women and children. The international community should respect the sovereignty of host countries, focus on their needs, hear their views and help them build up their capacity to operate and protect infrastructure on their own. We must be alert to terrorist forces who try to control or destroy infrastructure, or even launch cyber attacks on critical infrastructure by using digital technology.

Mr. President,

The international community should work together to protect civilians and civilian objects and ensure civilians’ sustainable access to essential services. The UNGA, Security Council, ECOSOC, the PBC and the UN resident offices should, in accordance with their respective mandates, bring into play their own advantages and strengthen coordination with regional organizations and international bodies such as ICRC, to tilt focus of humanitarian relief and development assistance towards civilians and civilian objects, and play a bigger role in post-conflict reconstruction. Member states can also make their own contributions. In this regard, China is ready to share its experience.

Over the years, by aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the 2030 Agenda, China has deepened cooperation with relevant national, regional and international organizations to help developing countries build up their infrastructure, boost employment and improve people's livelihood. China has helped build 24 agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa, benefiting more than 500,000 local people. The development sub-fund under the China-UN Peace and Development Fund has implemented 34 projects, involving multiple UN agencies, benefiting dozens of countries. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided emergency medical assistance to several conflict-affected countries and dispatched medical teams to help them fight the pandemic. Looking forward, China will continue to work with the international community to help conflict-affected countries build up their capacity for independent development and for the protection of civilians.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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