It is deplorable that so many civilians suffer the consequences of armed conflicts. Far too often women, men, girls and boys are directly targeted, killed, maimed and injured. We still witness too wide an interpretation of what constitutes “legitimate military targets”. The extensive use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas, as well as the imprecise targeting in connection with the use of remote-controlled technologies such as drones, constitutes grave risks to civilians.
Over the past year we have seen encouraging progress in efforts to enhance protection measures in armed conflicts, such as the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the recent amendments to the Statute of the ICC that extend individual responsibility for the use of certain weapons and ammunition in non-international conflicts. These are concrete steps in the right direction.
I would now like to focus on three of the core challenges in the Secretary-General’s report.
First, compliance with international humanitarian law.
We believe that full compliance with existing international humanitarian law is essential for safeguarding civilians in armed conflicts. Our focus must be where the consequences of armed conflict are felt – on the ground. To this end, states as well as the military, the ICRC, NGOs and non-state armed groups must engage in renewed efforts to reclaim the protection of civilians.
Norway supports the Secretary-General’s recommendations regarding the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas, including the need for further analysis and research.
Second, protection by UN peacekeeping operations.
Norway welcomes the publication of the Analytical Inventory of Peacekeeping Practice. Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. We also attach great importance to the ongoing work to develop training modules and scenario-based exercises to strengthen missions’ protection capacity.
Norway fully supports the Secretary-General’s recommendation that specific benchmarks should be developed for measuring progress in the implementation of missions’ mandates to protect civilians. This is not least important in exit strategies for peacekeeping operations.
Third, enhancing accountability.
Perpetrators of violations of IHL must be brought to justice. Norway firmly believes we need to enhance the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms. We welcome the commitment of the Security Council to establishing a stronger protection framework for children in armed conflict, most recently through resolution 1882.
Let me close by encouraging the Security Council to invite all relevant actors to take part in a debate on how to enhance the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms, including the use of commissions of inquiry and fact finding missions.
Thank you, Mr President.