Thank you Mr. President,
Malaysia joins other Council members in congratulating you Excellency, and your team on Egypt’s assumption of the Council’s presidency for this month.
2. I reaffirm my delegation’s full cooperation and we wish you and your team every success. I also wish to express my sincerest appreciation to Ambassador Liu Jieyi and his team for China’s effective leadership of Council last month.
3. I wish to express appreciation to His Excellency the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban ki-Moon, to Mr Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC and to Ms Joanne Liu, President of MSF for sharing their perspectives and insights on the topic at hand. Their briefings add significant value to the discussion today.
4. Malaysia welcomes the adoption of resolution 2286 which we co-sponsored alongside a significant number of UN member states. We commend the leadership taken by Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and Uruguay on this important initiative which comes at a very critical juncture.
5. The resolution is an important milestone and stands out as a timely response by this Council in discharging its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, specifically by addressing the increasingly frequent and inhumane attacks against healthcare institution by parties to armed conflict.
6. In 2014, schools and medical facilities in Gaza were targeted and bombed during military offensive by Israeli forces, killing and maiming thousands of civilians, including children. The attacks occurred despite the sharing of coordinates of the civilian facilities with the Israeli authorities.
7. In Kunduz, Afghanistan last October, a medical facility operated by Médecins sans Frontières was repeatedly bombarded, killing dozens of civilians, including patients and medical personnel.
8. Most recently, the attack against Al-Quds Hospital in Syria last week, which killed 57 civilians, reveals a new low on the protection of civilians, medical personnel and medical facilities.
9. One prominent victim killed in that attack was the only remaining paediatrician in Aleppo – Dr Muhammad Wassim Maaz.
10. Despite the intolerable stress of living in a city under siege, Dr. Maaz chose to stay in Aleppo to treat the wounded and as his friend put it – “to help those babies crying”, instead of joining his family in Turkey.
11. Such attacks - whether premeditated or otherwise - are simply unacceptable.
12. They violate basic and established principles of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance.
13. Attacks against medical personnel and health facilities also constitute two-fold atrocities against children: They not only kill and maim children, they also leave them without access to much-needed treatment, including life-saving ones.
14. The unanimous adoption of resolution 2286 reflects Council’s collective resolve in responding to a worsening deterioration of civilian protection in times of conflict. As we seek to maintain international peace and security, protection of civilians must continue to be at the core of Council’s work.
15. We must reject the notion of “collateral damage” as a convenient excuse to commit and perpetuate attacks against civilians and civilian objects.
16. Similarly, countering terrorism has unfortunately become a convenient narrative to justify attacks on civilians, humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as medical facilities.
17. If by fighting terrorism means we would be carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilians and their facilities, then from the victims’ point of view, we are no different from the terrorists.
18. As clearly stipulated under international law, attacks intentionally directed against civilians and civilian objects, including medical and humanitarian personnel, and medical facilities, constitute war crimes. Malaysia strong supports calls to ensure accountability, as a crucial step in the fight against impunity on the protection of civilian and civilian objects during armed conflicts.
19. We thus call for independent investigations into all alleged serious violations of international humanitarian law, particularly on the protection of civilians and civilian objects in armed conflicts. Member states have the obligation to cooperate with relevant international courts and tribunals, in ensuring accountability for war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, in accordance with their international commitments.
20. In concluding, we are deeply humbled and affected by the commitment and sacrifice of medical and humanitarian personnel worldwide, who devoted their lives to saving others in dangerous and trying circumstances. We wish pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price in pursuit of such honourable aims.
21. This Security Council must persist in defending and protecting the safety of medical personnel and health facilities in situations of armed conflict, an undertaking to which Malaysia is fully committed to.