Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 23.05.2019
Mr. President,

I would like to thank you for organizing this timely open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. We also thank the Secretary-General and the briefers for their statements.

Armed conflicts take a heavy toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars, millions of civilians are forced to flee. Attacks on schools and hospitals further exacerbate the already dire conditions in armed conflicts. The situation of civilians in Syria, Yemen, Libya and in many parts of the world is becoming increasingly precarious. The need for protection of Palestinian civilians also remains an imperative task in front of the UN.

Last month marked the eighth year since the Syria crisis began. Over 5.6 million people have fled Syria, seeking safety in Turkey and other neighboring countries. Over the last weeks, the violations of humanitarian law by the regime in Idlib have increased. Civilians have been targeted. This will have major humanitarian and security repercussions for the region and beyond.

The situation in Idlib remains deeply alarming. Turkey continues to be the main corridor for the UN cross-border humanitarian operations into northern Syria, with 80% of all cross border operations being conducted via our borders. Safe, timely and unimpeded access of all humanitarian aid is crucial.

Mr. President,

International humanitarian law is an important backdrop to protection. Since the signing of the Geneva Conventions 70 years ago, the changing nature of warfare has required joint efforts to ensure compliance with internaitonal humanitarian law. This also includes the need for neutral and impartial humanitarian action. On the other hand, Member States have their own experiences and best practices, and these should be duly reflected in the UN work.

Over the last 20 years, the Security Council has established a sound normative framework for the protection of civilians. The issue has remained one of the core issues of the Council’s agenda. The Council should continue with that practice and to act to stop serious violations of international law. Prevention and addressing the root causes of conflicts should also be at the top of our agenda.

The Security Council should be mindful of the increasing international humanitarian law violations and make sure that resolutions in this area, in particular resolutions 2286 and 2417, are fully implemented. This also includes the UN peacekeeping missions in implementing their protection mandates. The task of protecting civilians is indispensable as armed conflicts are becoming increasingly brutal.

Mr. President,

40 million people were estimated to be internally displaced in their own country as a result of armed conflict and violence, while the number of refugees and asylum-seekers reached 28.5 million. We hope that the 2018 Global Compact of Refugees will make a real difference in the lives of refugees and improve responsibility sharing among states.

This week marks the third anniversary of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit which put a strong emphasis on protection. We should devote more energy and resources if we are sincere in living up to the commitments of this Summit.

Protection of civilians, saving lives and restoring dignity of human beings should remain at the centre of our efforts. This is our duty for millions who deeply suffer from aggression, oppression and discrimination in their own lands and beyond.

Thank you.