Qatar has stressed that the most effective way to protect the civilian population of the world is to invest in the prevention and peaceful settlement of conflicts, based on the principles of justice and international law.
This came on Friday in the statement delivered by HE Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani at the official meeting of the UN Security Council on "Protecting civilians in armed conflict".
The statement was delivered on behalf of the 'Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect', which has a membership of 50 countries and co-chaired this year by the State of Qatar and Italy.
"Today, the world is witnessing a continuing and widespread deterioration in the lack of respect for the lives of civilians with horrendous disregard for the rules and laws adopted by the international community to mitigate the effects of armed conflict," she said, citing the consequences of massive human suffering and high risk of war crimes.
While all countries have a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, more than 65mn people are now displaced by conflicts, atrocities and persecution around the world, said Sheikha Alya.
She stressed that systematic, flagrant and widespread violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in situations of armed conflict posed a threat to international peace and security.
In this context, she reviewed a number of points that the 'Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect' stresses.
The first point, is the full and effective compliance with international law which is essential to the protection of civilians and can contribute to avoiding many civilian deaths, as well as suffering and homelessness.
The second point called upon states to develop appropriate legislative and institutional laws to comprehensively address violations of international humanitarian law, violations of human rights, and to hold accountable those who commit such violations.
She stressed that accountability for serious violations of the law of armed conflict and violations and abuses of human rights not only contribute to justice for victims but also prevent abuses and violations in the future, indicating that the primary responsibility for investigating crimes was the responsibility of states within their jurisdiction.
HE Sheikha Alya further stressed the importance of encouraging and supporting national accountability efforts, including the promotion of judicial co-operation among states.
She noted the importance of establishing and providing international investigative mechanisms, including fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry, international courts and mixed courts, pointing to the role of the International Criminal Court in enabling accountability when national options are insufficient.
The third point focused on the protection of infrastructure.
In this context HE Sheikha Alya pointed to large-scale attacks against infrastructure, such as healthcare facilities and schools.
She said that deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against medical facilities and civilian infrastructure such as schools, as well as the civilian population, including humanitarian workers, could amount to be war crimes.
Attacks on schools
In this context, she referred to attacks in recent years targeting schools, students, teachers and other elements of education, where the United Nations was able to verify 753 attacks on schools and hospitals in violation of Security Council resolution 2286.
The fourth point focused on the importance of gender sensitivity, where relevant UN Security Council resolutions indicate that armed conflicts and emergencies have different impacts on women, girls, men and boys.
In this context, the Group urged the United Nations and other actors to ensure the participation of affected populations, including women, in the development of strategies for the protection of civilians.
The fifth point drew attention to the role played by journalists in situations of armed conflict and their role in mobilising public opinion at times when terrible crimes were committed to pressure political decision-makers to find solutions and enhance accountability.
On behalf of the Group, she appealed to member-states to provide a safe and favourable environment for journalists covering armed conflicts.
At the conclusion of the statement, Sheikha Alya called on the international community to exert all possible efforts to help civilians trapped in conflicts, stressing the necessity for Security Council members to take immediate and decisive measures for ending and preventing atrocities and to stop impeding serious efforts to achieve the goal of accountability.