Estonian statement at UNSC debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Annual Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

“Ensuring the security and dignity of civilians in conflict: Addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services”

Statement by the Republic of Estonia

23 March, 2023

Madame President,

Thank you for convening today’s Security Council open debate. Estonia aligns itself with the statement (to be) delivered by the European Union.

Estonia remains gravely concerned about the situation of civilians in situations addressed in the Secretary General’s report, including in Afghanistan, Somalia Syria and Ukraine. We underline the need to ensure humanitarian access and the ability of humanitarian workers, including women, to conduct their activities safely and without restraints.

In order to put an end to attacks against civilians and deter those who wish to challenge peace, there must be full accountability. In cases already referred to the ICC, further backing from the Security Council and/or the General Assembly is of paramount importance.

Madame President,

According to rather conservative estimates by the Secretary-General’s report, almost half of the reported civilian casualties in the world in 2022 are direct result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In Ukraine, Russia has killed, tortured, raped and deliberately bombed civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as enforced displacements of civilians, including children. It is due to latter, Putin and Lvova-Belova are on the ICC’s most wanted list. These heinous crimes are also the reason why Russia must be listed in the annexes of the Secretary General’s upcoming annual report on children and armed conflict, as a party, committing grave violations against children.

The aggression against Ukraine has also reduced Ukraine’s grain exports by at least one third. We welcome the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Yet, Ukraine and the world needs Russia to end its war. Only this would allow farmers to return to their fields, return to normal world-wide agricultural trade, and therefore improve tremendously global food security.

Russia is blocking humanitarian aid access to temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and has caused the highest number of deaths among healthcare workers deliberately ignoring the UN Security Council resolutions 2417 and 2573.

Out of the 25 journalists killed in conflict, as recorded by UNESCO, 10 were killed in Ukraine. In this regard, regrettably, the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists still remains to be attained.

To conclude,

Every Member State can play its part in supporting and protecting civilians affected by armed conflicts. Since February 2022, Estonia has opened its borders to over 70 thousand Ukrainian refugees, which makes more than 5% of our population. We are also issuing 35 residency permits per year to journalists in need to protect free journalism and support independent media around the world. We will continue our support to improving food security in global crises, including through World Food Programme.

I thank you.