On 10 June 2016, the Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN, Ambassador Ion Jinga, delivered a statement in the Security Council, within the high level open debate organized by the French Presidency of the Council on the topic “Protection of Civilians in the Context of Peacekeeping Operations”.
The Representative of Romania has welcomed the organization of this debate, underscoring the fact that currently 93% of the victims in armed conflict are civilians, which places the protection of civilians on the center of the UN concerns regarding international security: “The responsibility to protect the civilians during wars belongs to the states, which have the duty to prosecute those who violate the international humanitarian law, and if the states are incapable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibility, the international community must intervene. This is the reason why Romania endorsed the French-Mexican initiative regarding the abstention of the UN Security Council Permanent Members from using their right of veto when mass atrocities are committed. Romania also joined the Code of Conduct proposed by Liechtenstein regarding the action against crimes of war, genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Underlining the importance of proper training of the personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations on how to interact with local populations and civil society organizations, especially with those focused on the protection of women’s and children’s rights, Ambassador Ion Jinga gave the example of how this is achieved in Romania: “Training must be anchored in the respect for human rights, because nothing is more prejudicial for the legitimacy of the UN peacekeeping missions than Blue Helmets who abuse the ones they must protect. It is necessary to ensure complementarity between training courses provided at the national and international levels, in a way that these can offer peacekeepers the capacity to identify early warning indicators when atrocity crimes are expected to be committed. The Romanian experience proved the benefits of mixed teams, where the female members of the peacekeeping operations interact with women and vulnerable individuals from local communities. Prior to deployment in peacekeeping operations, the Romanian troops attend a three months period strict training which includes protection of civilians and respect for human rights. During 25 years of continuous presence in UN peacekeeping missions, over ten thousand Romanian Blue Helmets contributed to peacekeeping all over the world, without being involved in any incidents of not respecting the civilian population.”
The Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN condemned the intentional involvement of civilians, schools, and hospitals in conflicts, which is an increasingly recurrent phenomenon that must be stopped. Reasserting Romania’s support for respecting the principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian actions, the Ambassador underscored the important role of prevention and of negotiated political solutions for tackling the root causes of conflicts. Mediation and early warning mechanisms are also necessary instruments to complement these efforts. He emphasized that the efficiency of protection of civilians in armed conflicts is increased through cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, which have a better knowledge of the cultural, social and historical context of the areas in conflict. The African Union and the European Union are two good examples, both organizations being strategic partners of the UN in the peacekeeping efforts.
Ambassador Ion Jinga concluded that protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations is essential for the reputation and the credibility of the UN: “From this perspective as well, the respect of the Kigali Principles on protection of civilians in conflicts must be part of all peacekeeping mandates and operations. Romania is among the states which endorsed these principles, thus reasserting the engagement of the national authorities in support to the UN efforts for peace and security in countries affected by conflicts, and recognizing the primordial importance of the human dimension of protection.”