National Statement of Germany at the UNSC Arria Meeting “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: prevent and respond to persons going missing across the globe”, 12 June 2024

Arria Meeting - Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Arria Meeting - Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, © GermanyUN

13.06.2024 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen, Deputy Permanent Representative

Thank you, Chair.
Every year, around the world, tens of thousands of persons go missing in armed conflict.
Each missing person represents a profound tragedy for their families and communities, as we have heard today from our briefers.

We reiterate our strong condemnation of the deliberate targeting of civilians and call on all parties to armed conflict to end such practices, in accordance with their obligations under international law.

We are convinced that it is our common obligation to identify concrete actions,
on how to best protect those in danger and on how to bring relief to those missing their loved ones.

In Syria, 13 years of civil war have resulted in the disappearance of at least 130.000 persons. Many of their families have resettled in Germany since. It is our firm conviction that we support those families best by swiftly setting up the newly established Independent Institution on Missing Persons (IIMP).

In Cyprus, Germany has been a long-standing supporter of the Committee on Missing Persons, which has been able to give hundreds of families certainty about their missing relatives and much needed closure.
These are both critical prerequisites for reconciliation and rebuilding trust between communities.

In Ukraine, countless civilians have gone missing since the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression. Along with others,
Germany has consistently undertaken concrete steps to improve accountability, not least with regard to the large number of unaccounted children. We deem this particularly important as resolution 2474 pays particular attention to the fate of children in armed conflict.

And, finally, we must not forget the hundreds of civilian hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October 2023, including German nationals. Germany welcomes the timely adoption of Security Council Resolution 2735 and calls upon Hamas to accept the May 31 proposal,
which encompasses the release of all hostages and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.

Chair, International humanitarian law and international human rights law
clearly outline obligations to prevent individuals from going missing in armed conflicts
and to provide information about their fates and whereabouts.

We reiterate our call on all parties to adhere to these obligations. We further underscore the importance of humanitarian diplomacy

It is imperative that we continue to actively support the ICRC and others in their essential work in protecting civilians in armed conflict.

I thank you.

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