China: Prime responsibility for civilian protection lay with states concerned

08:29, November 12, 2009      

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The prime responsibility for the protection of civilians in armed conflict lay with states concerned, and the assistance from the international community and the exterior parties should comply with the UN Charter and show full respect for the will of the state concerned, a senior Chinese diplomat said at United Nations Wednesday.

Zhang Yesui, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, made the statement as he was taking the floor at an open debate at the UN Security Council on the issue of protecting civilians in armed conflict.

"The primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lay with states concerned," Zhang said.

The assistance from the international community and the exterior parties should comply with the UN Charter, show full respect for the will of the states concerned and respect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and efforts should be made to avoid forced interference in this regard, Zhang said.

In addition, dialogue with non-state groups on the issue should take place with the cooperation of the governments of the countries concerned, he said.

Peacekeeping mandates should include protection of civilians, but only when feasible and necessary, and should be decided on a case-by-case basis, with full respect for the United Nations Charter, he said.

The international community still faced an uphill battle in the matter of the protection of civilians, he said.

At the same time, he also urged all parties involved in conflicts to confront the issue, and he supported strengthening the Security Council's means to do so, as well, maintaining that the body should do its part by helping to prevent and end conflicts and providing appropriate peacekeeping mandates.

The United Nations should also mobilize resources to help extricate countries from poverty and, in that way, to lessen the possibility for conflict, through the cooperation of all parts of the United Nations system, as well as the international financial institutions, he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the 15-nation Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to call on parties involved in armed conflict to take all measures to ensure the protection of civilians.

The Security Council demanded that parties to armed conflict comply strictly with relevant international law and "take all required measures to respect and protect the civilian population and meet its basic needs," the resolution said.

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