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Statement by Ms. Minna-Liina Lind, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians and Healthcare in Armed Conflict, 25 May 2017

25.05.2017

Statement by Ms. Minna-Liina Lind, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on

Protection of Civilians and Healthcare in Armed Conflict

New York, 25 May, 2017

 

Mr. President,

Deliberate attacks on civilians are war crimes and they are simply unacceptable. It is with heavy heart that we look at the increasing numbers of incidents placing civilians, including medical and humanitarian personnel under direct attack in armed conflicts. We are witnessing obstacles being set to obstruct the delivery of medical equipment and people in need not receiving necessary medical treatment. Over the past years, we have seen a growing number of violations of the international humanitarian law and in this vein I thank you for convening the discussion today to address this issue. Estonia also aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

The unanimous adoption of resolution 2286 by the Security Council a year ago was a landmark decision addressing the grave situation that the medical and humanitarian personnel faces today. It is important to underline that they are under the protection of international humanitarian law, and that states have obligations to respect that and in this regard, Estonia will continue to support the implementation of the resolution 2286.

It is without doubt the primary responsibility of states to ensure the protection of their people. In order to do that, we have to start from prevention. The respect for civilian population and medical care in armed conflict must be present at all times.

In order to bring this into practice, Estonia has ratified the main instruments of international humanitarian law with regard to the protection of civilians and has introduced the necessary domestic regulations for their enforcement. We have taken it to heart to ensure that our personnel does not violate international law when carrying out their obligations in Estonia or on a mission. The Estonian Defence Forces are provided with training on the obligations for the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law. This includes basic overview of the field, briefings on Rules of Engagement before every deployment, and advanced training in international humanitarian law.

Finally, Mr. President, perpetrators must be brought to justice; states must ensure that those responsible do not operate with impunity. In this respect let me underline the importance of accountability and the role of International Criminal Court in cases where investigations or prosecutions at the national level are not possible. We encourage states to cooperate with ICC and Security Council to refer matters to ICC.

 

Thank you.

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