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UN / CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT

During a debate on civilians in armed conflict, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today told the Security Council that in view of the "disastrous" inaction on Syria, the Council as well as senior UN officials would be "judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes". UNTV
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STORY: UN/ CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT
TRT: 3:04
SOURCE: UNTV
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / FRENCH/ RUSSIAN/ NATS

DATELINE: 12 FEBRUARY 2013, NEW YORK CITY/ FILE

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Shotlist

FILE – FEBRUARY 2013, NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN Headquarters

12 FEBRUARY 2013, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council Chamber
3. Wide shot, delegates of China and Azerbaijan
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The Security Council is at its best when it acts with a unified voice. The lack of consensus on Syria and the resulting inaction has been disastrous and civilians on all sides have paid the price. We will be judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes. This Council, as well as those of us in key positions within the UN, will be rightly asked what we did.”
5. Wide shot, delegates of UK and the United States
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“As the situation evolves, attacks and reprisals risk driving Mali into a catastrophic spiral of violence. I call on all parties to the conflict to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and to prevent retaliation”.
7. Wide shot, delegates of Togo and Rwanda
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Philip Spoerri, Director for International Law and Cooperation, International Committee of the Red Cross:
“A strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty is urgently needed to enhance the protection of civilians as well as healthcare and humanitarian workers working to assist those who are most vulnerable, and to help ensure that IHL is respected by all parties to armed conflicts, be they international or non-international.”
9. Med shot, Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Ambassador Susan Rice, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations:
“The carnage unleashed by Assad merits universal indignation and strong action from this Council. When the people of Libya were on the verge to be slaughtered by a brutal dictator this Council acted, preventing massacre, and saved countless lives. This should remind us that for civilians in conflict Security Council action can mean the difference between life and death.”
11. Wide shot, delegates of Luxembourg and Morocco
12. SOUNDBITE (French) Ambassador Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations:
“With Malian troops we liberated Gao and Timbuktu. In that context we were mindful that the resolution (of the Security Council) 2085 stipulated the deployment of human rights and humanitarian law observers and we call on their swift deployment.”
13. Med shot, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
14. SOUNDBITE (Russian) Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
“The problem of protection of civilians in all the more in the spotlight in view of the practice of targeted use of unmanned aircrafts or drones, including in the trans-border context. Here we are concerned by both - deaths of civilians as well as by psychological stress, inflicted on civilians living under the constant threat of the devastating missile strike. This issue is already on a top priority for human rights structures including the HRC (Human Rights Council) Special Rapporteur on the compliance with human rights in counter-terrorism. We call on the Security Council to remain focused on this issue”.
15. Med shot, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations
16. Wide shot, Security Council Chamber

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Storyline

Top United Nations officials today (12 February) highlighted the need for the Security Council to act with a unified voice to protect innocent lives, noting that civilians, in Syria and elsewhere, remain subject to unacceptable threats to life and dignity in conflict zones.

In remarks to the Council’s open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted that the number of civilians killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011 is probably now approaching 70,000.

Pilay told the 15-member body that the Security Council is “at its best when it acts with a unified voice. The lack of consensus on Syria and the resulting inaction has been disastrous and civilians on all sides have paid the price”.

“We will be judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes. This Council, as well as those of us in key positions within the UN, will be rightly asked what we did,” she added. The High Commissioner said one immediate action that the Council could take is to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

She noted that, in contrast to Syria, the Council has achieved political consensus regarding the situation in Mali, where it has provided for UN human rights monitoring.

Her office is deploying human rights officers in Mali, and the first arrived in the capital, Bamako, last week. At the same time she warned that “attacks and reprisals risk driving Mali into a catastrophic spiral of violence”, calling on all parties to the conflict “to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and to prevent retaliation”.

Philip Spoerri, speaking on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross, addressed the issue of the poorly regulated international trade in conventional arms, including inadequate standards for their transfer. He stressed that “a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty is urgently needed to enhance the protection of civilians as well as healthcare and humanitarian workers working to assist those who are most vulnerable, and to help ensure that IHL is respected by all parties to armed conflicts, be they international or non-international.” He urged the international community to redouble their efforts to ensure the adoption of a robust Arms Trade Treaty, which would set strict criteria for all transfers of all conventional arms.

In her address to the Council, US Ambassador Susan Rice commented on the Council’s inaction with regard to the situation in Syria: “ The carnage unleashed by Assad merits universal indignation and strong action from this Council. When the people of Libya were on the verge to be slaughtered by a brutal dictator this Council acted, preventing massacre and saved countless lives. This should remind us that for civilians in conflict Security Council action can mean the difference between life and death”, she said.

Addressing the same Council debate, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin expressed concern about the use of unmanned aircrafts or drones. “We are concerned by both - deaths of civilians as well as by psychological stress, inflicted on civilians living under the constant threat of the devastating missile strike. “

Churkin added that this issue was a top priority for various human rights structures including the HRC (Human Rights Council) Special Rapporteur on the compliance with human rights during the counter-terrorism. He called on the Security Council to remain focused on the issue.

The meeting, chaired by Kim Sung-hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for this month, was expected to hear from over 70 speakers.

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