Statement of Germany in the High Level Open Debate: “Ensuring the security and dignity of civilians in conflict: Addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services” 23 May 2023

23.05.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Ambassador Antje Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in New York

Check against delivery.

Thank you, Mr President, for convening this important debate. I also thank the Secretary General, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ms. Aichatou Mounkaila for their insightful briefings.

Germany aligns itself with the statements of the European Union as well as the statements by the Group of Friends on Action on Conflict and Hunger, the Protection of Civilians, and the Responsibility to Protect.

In 2018, the unanimous adoption of UNSC resolution 2417 on conflict and hunger raised high hopes. However, on its 5th anniversary, there is little reason to celebrate: Acute food insecurity has reached an unprecedented level, affecting a record 349 million people – up from 135 million in 2019. The effects of Russia’s devastating war of aggression against Ukraine on food and fertilizer prices, the climate and biodiversity crises and other factors make up for a dangerous combination.

It is a global imperative and our shared responsibility to better protect civilians’ lives, and guarantee their access to essential goods and services. Let me make three points on how this could –and should – be achieved:

First, strong instruments to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict already exist: international humanitarian law and international human rights law. However, these universal rules are infringed upon far too often.

A just and effective multilateral system requires us to condemn these acts and hold perpetrators accountable – through international criminal justice mechanisms, but also politically, in the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The Call for Action to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and principled humanitarian action, initiated by Germany and France in 2019, has become a strong reference document for our efforts to promote universal adherence to International Humanitarian Law.

Its signatories share the priority to preserve humanitarian space and to ensure access to people in need. To date, the Call for Action has been signed by 52 States – and it is still open for more signatories. I hope that many in this room will join us!

Second, we must become better at implementing the existing instruments for the protection of civilians and providing essential services. Therefore, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNHCR, peacekeeping missions, and NGOs (Amnesty, HRW, etc.) should continuously monitor and report incidents.

We also need to identify and fill existing gaps. In 2022, the number of civilians killed or injured by bombing and shelling in urban areas soared by 83 percent.

Germany therefore urges member states to join the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated areas, and to commit to a substantive follow-up process.

Third, we urgently need to increase the resilience and sustainability of agriculture and food systems and invest in preparedness. Germany believes that a structural reform of our global food systems, including supply chains and trade restrictions, as well as the financial architecture supporting them, is vital.

Building on the “Uniting for Global Food Security” conference in Berlin on 24 June last year, the Global Alliance on Food Security established during the German G7 Presidency has recently begun its in-country engagements.

Through these engagements, we support our partners to develop measures that can make their agriculture and food systems more resilient and sustainable. Germany also actively promotes gender sensitive approaches. Addressing the root causes of gender inequalities is critical to ensuring more effective protection as well as equitable access to the instruments for achieving food security.

Germany will continue to support efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, promote respect for international humanitarian law, and provide humanitarian assistance and protection to those affected by conflict.

We call on all members of the UN, and especially the Security Council, to work together to achieve these goals and to ensure that the protection of civilians remains at the forefront of our collective efforts.

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