ICRC statement to UN Security Council opens debate on preventing and combating financing of terrorism

Delivered by Robert Mardini, Permanent observer to the UN and head of delegation, ICRC NYC

28 March 2019

Today, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2462. In this resolution, Council members upheld international humanitarian law and protected principled humanitarian action. This shows that States remain committed to their obligations under IHL and to ensuring that people in need can be reached and protected in times of armed conflict.

I address this Council today because the ICRC is concerned about the increased impact that counter-terrorism measures have on impartial humanitarian action. We understand the legitimate concerns of States and their need to take measures necessary to ensure security and eliminate terrorism. But certain measures, most notably counter-terrorism legislation and sanctions, can criminalize and restrict humanitarian action.

What is at stake is our ability to cross frontlines to deliver humanitarian assistance for communities living in areas controlled by armed groups and individuals designated as terrorists. Counter-terrorism measures can negatively impact our ability to visit persons being detained by "the other side", recover dead bodies, train armed groups on IHL, and facilitate mutual detainee releases and swaps. In short, our ability to carry out our mandate is increasingly hampered. As a consequence, people suffer at the very moment when IHL should protect them.

The ICRC has always condemned violence against protected persons including acts of terrorism. That said, the international community needs to find the right balance between the legitimate concerns of States to provide security and the importance of IHL and impartial humanitarian action. We welcome efforts to find such a balance in this resolution today.

The next step is to "walk the talk". The commitments to safeguard humanitarian action in this resolution mean nothing for populations in need if they are not implemented. When States take Resolution 2462 back home and incorporate it into their domestic legal order, we ask that they take effective measures to protect principled humanitarian action and preserve humanitarian space. We also encourage States to engage with humanitarian organizations to find concrete solutions to this very critical issue. This would be a tangible way to demonstrate their commitment to the 1949 Geneva Conventions in their 70th anniversary year.

Counter-terrorism measures remain a critical issue to the ICRC. Our President Peter Maurer will be here to brief this Council next week and will reiterate the very importance of this matter.