Security Council Adopts Resolution on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

On 17 September 1999, the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 1265 (1999) on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.  The resolution was unanimously adopted in follow up of the Council’s earlier Presidential Statements on 12 February 1999 and 8 July 1999 and after the Council’s consideration of the report submitted by the U.N. Secretary-General on 8 September 1999, which contained specific recommendations to the Council.

In addition to participating in the Council’s debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in February, the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N., Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, participated in the recent resumption of the debate on 16 September 1999.  Although he expressed appreciation for the report submitted by the Secretary-General, he stressed Palestine’s disappointment and confusion over “the fact that the report fails to mention the incessant Israeli occupation of Palestinian land along with the examples it gives on violations of international humanitarian law.”

Throughout his statement, Ambassador Al-Kidwa made reference to the 24 Security Council resolutions that have been adopted affirming the applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem, as well as to the many General Assembly resolutions in this regard, including those of the 10th Emergency Special Session.  Specific mention was made of the convening in July 1999 of the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the 4th Geneva Convention, which Palestine views as “an extremely important step, not only with regard to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, but also with regard to international humanitarian law and the efforts to ensure respect for, and compliance with, its instruments.”  In closing, Ambassador Al-Kidwa noted that “it is unfortunate that today, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Four Geneva Conventions, we cannot also take pride in and celebrate their full respect and applicability.  In Palestine and everywhere, we have to make progress and create a different and safer situation than that faced today by civilians in armed conflict.”

Among the many important paragraphs within the comprehensive text of Security Council resolution 1265 (1999), operative paragraph 4 “urges all parties concerned to comply strictly with their obligations under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, in particular those contained in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977, as well as with the decisions of the Security Council”.  Further in this regard, in operative paragraph 6 the Council “emphasizes the responsibility of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law… and acknowledges the historic significance of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court…”