The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, have issued an unprecedented joint warning about the impact of today’s conflicts on civilians, and appealed for urgent and concrete action to address human suffering and insecurity.
The two leaders stressed the importance of respect for international humanitarian law in order to stem the chaos and prevent further instability.
They called on States to take the following urgent actions:
Redouble efforts to find sustainable solutions to conflicts and take concrete steps to that effect.
Individually and collectively, use every means to wield influence over parties to armed conflict to respect the law, including carrying out effective investigations into breaches of international humanitarian law, holding perpetrators accountable, and developing concrete mechanisms to improve compliance.
Condemn those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law, such as deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Ensure unhindered access to medical and humanitarian missions and protect medical and humanitarian workers and facilities.
Protect and assist internally displaced people and refugees while they are fleeing insecurity, and help them to find long-term solutions, while supporting host countries and communities.
Stop the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.
“Rarely before have we witnessed so many people on the move, so much instability, so much suffering,” said Mr Maurer. “In armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere, combatants are defying humanity’s most fundamental norms. Every day, we hear of civilians being killed and wounded in violation of the basic rules of international humanitarian law, and with total impunity. Instability is spreading. Suffering is growing. No country can remain untouched.”
Some sixty million people around the world have been displaced from their homes because of conflict and violence – the highest figure since the Second World War. Conflicts have become more protracted, meaning that many displaced people face years away from their homes, communities and livelihoods.
8 November 2015