19 June 1997


Press Release
SC/6384



SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESSES GRAVE CONCERN OVER USE OF FORCE IN CONFLICT SITUATIONS AGAINST REFUGEES AND OTHER CIVILIANS

19970619
Presidential Statement Calls on All Concerned To Comply Strictly with Rules of International Humanitarian Law

The Security Council this morning expressed grave concern at the recent increase in attacks or use of force in conflict situations against refugees and other civilians, in violation of international law, including humanitarian law, and called upon all those concerned to ensure the safety of refugees, displaced persons and other civilians, and guarantee unimpeded, safe access of the United Nations and other personnel to those in need.

Through a statement read by its President, Sergey V. Lavrov (Russian Federation), the Council reiterated its condemnation of those attacks and again called upon all those concerned to comply strictly with the relevant rules of international law.

Expressing further grave concern at all attacks or the use of force against personnel linked to the United Nations, its operations and humanitarian organizations, in violation of international law, the Council called upon all parties concerned to ensure their safety and security and encouraged all States to consider ways and means to strengthen their protection. States and others concerned were reminded by the Council to try those who violated international law.

On the mandates of United Nations peace-keeping operations, the Council underlined the importance of ensuring that they were clear, appropriate, realistic, implemented impartially and backed with adequate resources. In that context, the Council, in establishing or authorizing operations to protect humanitarian assistance to refugees and others caught in conflicts, reaffirmed the principle of full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the concerned States.


* In Press Release SC/6383 of 13 June, the meeting number should read 3789.

Stressing the importance of crisis prevention, including by addressing their root causes, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General and all States to look further into practical ways of enhancing the United Nations capability in that regard.

The Security Council held a day-long debate on protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations on 21 May. Speakers expressed concerned over the difficulty of providing international military support for humanitarian assistance operations while ensuring that humanitarian workers were seen as impartial. Several delegations and representatives of humanitarian agencies urged that international humanitarian laws should be backed up by credible threats of targeted sanctions, robust military engagement and international criminal prosecution.

The meeting, called to order at 10:12 a.m., was adjourned at 10:19 a.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1997/34, reads as follows:

"The Security Council has considered the matter of protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations and has given careful consideration to the views expressed in the debate on the matter at its 3778th meeting on 21 May 1997.

"The Security Council notes that massive displacement of civilian populations in conflict situations may pose a serious challenge to international peace and security. The Council, in seeking protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, underlines the importance of pursuing a coordinated and comprehensive approach in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

"The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the recent increase in attacks or use of force in conflict situations against refugees and other civilians, in violation of the relevant rules of international law, including those of international humanitarian law. The Council reiterates its condemnation of such acts, and once again calls upon all those concerned to comply strictly with the relevant rules of international law. In particular, it calls upon all parties concerned to ensure the safety of refugees, displaced persons and other civilians, and guarantee the unimpeded and safe access of United Nations and other humanitarian personnel to those in need.


Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6384 3790th Meeting (AM) 18 June 1997

"The Security Council also expresses its grave concern at all attacks or use of force against United Nations and other personnel associated with United Nations operations as well as personnel of humanitarian organizations, in violation of the relevant rules of international law, including those of international humanitarian law. In this context, the Council recalls its resolution 868 (1993) and the Statement by its President of 12 March 1997 (S/PRST/1997/13). It also recalls the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1994. In this context, it calls upon all parties concerned to ensure the safety and security of these personnel as well as personnel of humanitarian organizations, and encourages all States to consider ways and means to strengthen the protection of such personnel.

"The Security Council reminds all States and others concerned of the need to bring to justice those who violate international humanitarian law. In this context, it recalls the resolution on the establishment of an international criminal court adopted by the General Assembly on 17 December 1996 (A/RES/51/207).

"The Security Council supports further exploration of ways and means by which the international community may enhance the compliance by parties concerned with the relevant rules of international law, including those of international humanitarian law.

"The Security Council encourages States to consider acceding to the relevant international conventions designed to address the problems of refugees.

"The Security Council underlines the importance of ensuring clear, appropriate and realistic mandates to be implemented in an impartial manner as well as adequate resources for United Nations peace-keeping operations. In this context, the Council in establishing or authorizing an operation to protect humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations reaffirms the principles of full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the States concerned. The Council also underlines the importance of ensuring the proper discharge of the mandates conferred upon peace-keeping operations.

"The Security Council stresses the importance of ensuring closer coordination between the relevant United Nations bodies and other international agencies, acting in accordance with their own mandates and status, with a view to effectively providing or protecting humanitarian assistance to those in need. In this context, the Council encourages an enhanced role for the Special Representatives of the Security-General in coordination to this end.


Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6384 3790th Meeting (AM) 18 June 1997

"The Security Council stresses the importance of the activities of the relevant United Nations bodies, agencies and other international humanitarian organizations and the need for these activities to continue to be carried out in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian assistance.

"The Security Council also stresses the importance of the crisis prevention, including by addressing the root causes of such crises. It, therefore, encourages the Secretary-General and all States to look further into practical ways to enhance the United Nations capacity and capability in this regard.

"The Security Council encourages the Secretary-General to study further how to improve the protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations."

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