UNITED NATIONS (Public Radio of Armenia) — On 19 January, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan delivered a statement at the Security Council Open Debate on “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.”
In his statement, Ambassador Mnatsakanyan stressed that Armenia shares the concern of the Secretary General about the disturbing challenges for the protection of civilians in conflict-affected areas, which remain persistent as ever. While the humanitarian aspects of affected populations are of high concern, basic physical security of civilians continues to be wracked. The persistently rising numbers of civilian casualties call for a resolute action.
Mnatsakanyan also emphasized that the question of accountability requires amplified consolidation of the Council in demonstrating resolve against parties, responsible for denying basic security or humanitarian relief to affected populations. The idea of enabling the UN peace operations with a mandate for a preventive, protective and tactical use of force to protect civilians under threat of physical violence needs to be given thorough consideration. The reputation of the organization is judged not by words of condemnation, but by deliverable protection. Strengthening the capacities of field missions, including those of the relevant regional organizations, remains an on-going priority. Last, but not least, protection of civilians in armed conflicts is closely tied to the prevention of mass atrocities, including the crime of genocide. A culture of assessing every crisis situation affecting civilian populations through the prism of massive crimes, including the crime of genocide, should be further cultivated within the organization, highlighted Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.
The Ambassador of Armenia referred to the recent situation in the region, stressing that Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have been experiencing significant challenges to the security of its civilian populations as a result of the on-going disregard by Azerbaijan to respecting and upholding the 1994 cease-fire agreement. Increasingly, Azerbaijan continues to target civilians across the line of contact with Nagorno Karabakh and the border with Armenia. As a result of intensified cease-fire violations and massive shelling of populated areas with the unprecedented use of heavy artillery, considerable damage has been inflicted on the livelihoods of the bordering villages. In September 2015, three women were killed by Azerbaijani fire. Armenia strongly deplores the purposeful acts of Azerbaijan to violate the cease-fire regime and damage the on-going peace process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship. Once again, Armenia urges Azerbaijan to heed the calls of the international community and agree without delay to establish an investigative mechanism into the cease-fire violations, and to withdraw snipers. By rejecting such mechanism, Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the violations and the escalation of tensions.
In conclusion, Ambassador Mnatsakanyan underlined that the on-going negotiations for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship is a positive example of effective utilization of the capacity of regional organizations in conflict resolution. Armenia highly commends the support of the international community, of the United Nations and of the Secretary General rendered to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmanship in the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. He stressed that Azerbaijan should be denied the attempts to undermine the efforts of the Co-chairs or to engage in forum and mediation shopping.
The Open debated was presided by José Luis Cancela, Deputy Foreign Minister of Uruguay. Representatives of about eighty state members, including Deputy Foreign Ministers of Spain and Ukraine, as well Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross took part in the Debate.