Statement by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Member of the German Bundestag, on the occasion of the Arria Formula Meeting of the members of the UN Security Council on protecting humanitarian and medical personnel

01.04.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we want to pool recommendations and concrete proposals in order to put a stop to this trend. Together with you, the humanitarian organisations and experts, we should ask ourselves: How can we minimise the risks? What should the Security Council be doing?

We already have several good approaches.

  • First of all, we finally need to take Resolution 2286 seriously and implement it. Whether that involves the member states reporting attacks on humanitarian aid workers to the UN Secretary General.
  • And better care for affected workers and the creation of confidential spaces in which to discuss their experiences. The German-funded Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation could play a key role in achieving this. 
  • One further example of how negotiations and “good offices” can help is the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. Its mission in eastern Ukraine in 2017 showed how valuable such work can be. Yet the effectiveness of such approaches must not be impeded. We too often witness that negotiations are hindered by certain parties.
  • Another approach is to conduct credible investigations into attacks on humanitarian helpers. At the moment, those who attack humanitarian aid workers are far too rarely called to account.


Ladies and gentlemen,

in the afternoon, we will focus on the preservation of humanitarian space in a Security Council briefing that we have initiated jointly with France.

We will also initiate a “Humanitarian Call for Action” that will compile concrete recommendations.

It is no coincidence that the first day of our Security Council Presidency is devoted to the respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. The most important and most noble task of the Security Council is to protect human lives.

Every bit of progress we make here today will have a direct impact on the people in conflict areas. Every bit of progress will help the workers on humanitarian missions. This may not prevent conflicts, but it can at least relieve human suffering.

Even 150 years on from Henry Dunant we must not relax our efforts to fight for their protection. And I promise you that we don’t intend to.

Thank you very much.

Top of page