Mr. President,  

75 years ago, following the horrors of the Second World War, the Geneva Conventions were adopted. "Our most fervent wish would be that they would never have the opportunity to be applied", declared Max Petitpierre, as President of the Swiss Confederation and President of the Diplomatic Conference, when these texts were adopted. Today, 75 years later, we can see that this wish has not been fulfilled. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are therefore more relevant than ever.

Switzerland welcomes today's open debate. It represents an opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to greater humanity, and to recall the obligation we all have to implement international humanitarian law. We thank the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, the Assistant Secretary-General for

Humanitarian Affairs, the President of the ICRC and the Director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) for their briefings, which illustrate the urgency and relevance of our deliberations today.

Mr. President, 

In his latest annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the SecretaryGeneral draws our attention to a deeply disturbing fact: while armed conflicts around the world are multiplying, international humanitarian law is all too often flouted. Here are just a few examples: 

- Humanitarian access to Gaza is severely hampered, while half the population is suffering from catastrophic hunger and famine is imminent. 

- In Sudan, we observe that the civilian population is targeted and sexual violence is being systematically committed as part of the conflict.

- In Ukraine, mines and explosive remnants of war have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians, including children.  

- In Myanmar, more than 3 million people have been forced to leave their homes since the start of the conflict.

Mr. President,  

These examples do not illustrate the inevitable consequences of armed conflict. On the contrary, they are avoidable consequences of a lack of political will to respect international humanitarian law. 

Let's protect civilians! 

- By unequivocally calling on all parties to conflicts to strictly respect international humanitarian law, everywhere and in all circumstances, even in the absence of reciprocity;

- Let's protect civilians, by demanding rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance, and protecting those committed to the protection of civilians, as demanded by the draft resolution proposed by Switzerland, which is currently being negotiated and will soon be open for co-sponsorship; 

- Let's protect civilians, by strengthening international humanitarian law through the ratification and implementation of all relevant conventions, in particular the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions; 

- Let's protect civilians, by ensuring justice for victims of violations of international humanitarian law. Switzerland calls on all States to recognize and support the International Criminal Court;

- Let's protect civilians, by improving the prevention of violations of international law, and systematically using the early warning instruments at our disposal, for example in relation to famine.

Mr. President,

The Geneva Conventions represent the cornerstone of the normative edifice we have built, stone by stone, on the rubbles of war, to protect the civilian population and people hors de combat. Every one of us, every State, has an obligation not only to respect international humanitarian law, but also to ensure that it is respected, whether within its own territory or by the parties to the conflict.  

Let's assume our responsibilities! Let us seize the opportunity offered by the various anniversaries linked to the protection of civilians that mark this year to call with a strong, united voice for full respect, without nuance or exception, of international humanitarian law. Because this world is in desperate need of more humanity. 

I thank you.