The following Security Council press statement on the protection of civilians in armed conflict was delivered today by Council President Johan C. Verbeke ( Belgium):
The members of the Security Council met today in an open debate for a useful and substantive discussion on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. They heard a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, who addressed a range of concerns relating to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Members of the Security Council welcomed progress in, and increased awareness of, the issues surrounding protection of civilians, but expressed their grave concern that civilians continue to account for the majority of casualties in situations of armed conflict. They reaffirmed that parties to armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civilians. They also encouraged the continuation of concrete steps to enhance the capacity of the United Nations regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Members of the Security Council recalled the obligations of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians. They urged all concerned parties to allow full, safe and unimpeded access by humanitarian personnel to civilians in need of assistance in situations of armed conflict.
Members of the Security Council welcomed the Under-Secretary-General's informative first briefing on this issue, and reaffirmed their intention to remain seized of the matter. They looked forward to the Secretary-General's report that is expected to be issued later this year.
For information media - not an official record