Sri Lanka’s representative tells UN Security Council to recognize state’s role in civilian protection

May 11, New York: The United Nations and the humanitarian agencies need to recognize the fundamental role of a government in the protection of its own citizens and must support and assist governments while being sensitive to ground realities and respecting the sovereignty of states, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN said.

Addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona said that the external elements cannot readily take the State’s role for civilian protection in armed conflicts against terrorism as terrorists do not distinguish between military and humanitarian personnel.

“Access for humanitarian personnel must be respected but one cannot disregard the State’s responsibility to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel,” he said adding that “The assumption that civilians can best be protected and cared for only by civilian humanitarian workers from outside the country and specific INGOs which originate from particular regions of the world contradicts the fundamental contemporary norm of respecting the sovereign equality of States.”

Kohona explained that the challenges posed by terrorism have pointed to the need to reevaluate military strategies when dealing with terrorists as they conducting asymmetric warfare clearly disregard the conventional rules and principals of war.

The envoy requested the authoritative bodies to consider the practical realities based on the experiences of member states instead of a theoretical application of one size fits all humanitarian framework.

“One size does not fit all, and the complex Sri Lankan experience seems to demonstrate that reality,” he said.

Full Text of Kohona’s Address

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