General Assembly Security Council
UNSC High-level Open Debate on the Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Statement by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj

Mr. President,
I thank you for convening this high-level Open debate today. 
The surge in armed conflicts around the globe in recent years has led to devastating consequences, severely impacting civilian populations. India has expressed its concern over the conflict in Ukraine as well as in Gaza, which have led to a large scale loss of lives, especially of women and children. Protection of civilians across the globe, in such conflict situations, rests on the pursuance of dialogue and diplomacy as the only way forward.

The conflict in Ukraine has had a destabilizing effect with broader regional and global implications. It has had a disproportionate impact on the Global South and developing countries. Such humanitarian consequences of armed conflicts are severe. We are witnessing the debilitating effect that conflicts can have in gaining access to humanitarian aid. With the humanitarian crisis deepening in Gaza, we have sought protection of civilians and reiterated the need for safe, timely and sustained supply of humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine.

Such violence not only claims lives but also severely hampers efforts to deliver essential humanitarian aid to those in desperate need. As we witness the profound impact these conflicts have on access to aid, the call for peace and effective humanitarian assistance becomes increasingly urgent. We have strongly urged that international law and international humanitarian law must be respected by everyone under all circumstances.

It is crucial to note that while international law and principles set the ground rules to navigate through armed conflicts placing a significant responsibility on all parties involved, the fundamental duty to protect the safety and security of populations primarily lies with national governments. There can be no substitute for national efforts in creating an environment where civilians are secure. We have also seen that, in contemporary conflicts, solutions often lie in the political and social domains, and not just the security, calling thereby for creating conducive conditions for local political and social processes to take hold.

Exacerbating these social tensions is also the threat of terrorism being faced today, that is pushing societies towards instability and violence.  Therefore, any debate on protection of civilians must address the destruction caused by terrorist groups, especially those supported by state actors with political agendas. To this end, the international community needs to stand firm on its opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reject any attempt to provide any justifications for terrorist acts.

As we discuss multi-pronged solutions for the protection of civilians, we need to acknowledge the limitations and shortcomings of our Peacekeeping Missions, which are rooted in the ever-expanding scope of mandates  incommensurate with the resources allocated, and inadequately equipped,  to meet the challenges on the ground. This has propelled India to call repeatedly for realistic mandates backed by adequate resources, predictable and sustainable financing, and with the involvement of all parties concerned including host nations and Troop and Police Contributing Countries.
It is unfortunate that the decisions on the handling of these conflict situations are taken without the involvement of the State concerned. The Security Council that decides on the fate of these many disturbed regions does not have equitable representation from the very countries mired in conflict situations. Given the role that the Security Council plays in efforts towards resolution of conflicts and for sustaining peace, and being the institutional architecture primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, it cannot remain frozen in time. It needs to evolve to avoid obsolescence and irrelevance. One of the most important requirements is therefore to strengthen the capacity of this Council by making it representative of contemporary realities, and by undertaking reform to make it more effective through an expansion of membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.

The need of the hour therefore is a holistic approach; coordinated action; and a clear strategy that can ensure the protection of civilians, rooted in representative and inclusive governance structures reflecting gender sensitivity and inclusivity.