I would like to thank Mr. Lacroix and the Generals Subramanian, Rodrigues de Miranda Filho and Lázaro Sáenz for their presentations. In addition to the three Generals mentioned, I would like to thank all the Heads of mission and Force Commanders, who are doing a remarkable job in often very difficult conditions.
I would also like to express our condolences, both to the Head of UNIFIL and to the Government of Ghana, and especially to the family of the peacekeeper who died in an accident this morning.
Unfortunately, civilians still represent the vast majority of victims of armed conflict, and their protection is therefore more necessary than ever, and also more difficult than ever, as we have just heard. The protection of civilians is also one of Switzerland's priorities on the Security Council. The New Agenda for Peace provides us with a conceptual framework for thinking about how peacekeeping missions can further strengthen the protection of civilians in the future. I would like to mention the following three points:
Firstly: The protection of the civilian population is one of the primary tasks of peacekeeping missions. This priority must be reflected in the allocation and use of available capacities and resources. The protection of civilians must be the subject of a comprehensive, integrated approach involving all the military, police and civilian components of a mission. The focus should not be on reacting to acts committed against civilians, but on preventing such acts. That said, even in the presence of a UN mission, the fundamental responsibility for protecting the civilian population lies with the host government.
The root causes of conflict and the political, socio-economic, gender and other dimensions must be taken into account right from the initial planning phase of a mission. In this context, the presence of POC advisors on mission staffs is particularly important to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach between the various components and external partners. Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law must also be an integral part of peacekeeper training, as it is everyone's responsibility.
Secondly: Beyond the specificities of each mission, it is important to define and systematically implement common standards for the protection of civilians, including against gender-based violence. The presence of all Force Commanders in New York is an opportunity to draw on their extensive experience to establish best practices, and ensure that these are disseminated and applied across all missions. The protection of civilians must also be guaranteed during transitional phases. In this respect, the withdrawal of MINUSMA must under no circumstances lead to a deterioration in the condition of civilians: the Malian government must ensure that the functions previously carried out by the mission in this field are now taken over by itself.
And thirdly: Strategic mission communication also contributes to the protection of civilians. Disinformation and hate speech weaken and undermine efforts. In this respect, as we heard at last week's briefing on artificial intelligence, new technologies have interesting potential. By contributing to a better understanding of the human environment, these technologies promote early warning and thus the prevention of violence against civilians. In this context, we would like to ask the Commanders how they see, in concrete terms, the use of new technologies and in particular artificial intelligence within their Missions in the future, to counter disinformation and improve the protection of civilians, while ensuring that the risks linked to the use of these technologies are minimized?
Finally, we would like to remind you that the protection of civilians is an obligation under international law in all situations of armed conflict. As a long-standing advocate of international humanitarian law, Switzerland will continue to work towards its promotion and strict application.