State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Ms. Johanna Sumuvuori delivered the Joint Nordic Statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the Annual 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” on May 23, 2023.
Madam President, Members of the Security Council,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Finland.
Still today, five years after the adoption of resolution 2417, armed conflict continues to be the main driver of humanitarian needs, and of food insecurity globally. Consequences of Russia’s war of aggression on global food security are devastating. Especially for those most in need, and for those that were already facing food-insecurity.
Safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access is a prerequisite to effective humanitarian action, especially in situations of armed conflict. All parties to a conflict must fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This includes protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers. For the aid to reach those most in need, ceasefires and security guarantees for humanitarian organizations are essential.
Addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services are especially important in protracted conflicts, where the needs are ever increasing, and aggravated by climate change.
Women play an essential role in food security and they often face enormous challenges due to limited access to resources, information and education, and because of discriminatory structures and social norms. Consequently, women are more likely to experience poverty and income inequality, which can lead to higher rates of food insecurity.
The Nordics promote the protection of women and girls, and the full realization of their rights at all stages of a conflict. We stress the importance of prevention and elimination of gender based and sexual violence, and promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Furthermore, women should play a role in the design and delivery of humanitarian aid. The international community must support local groups, including women’s groups that are the first to respond to conflict.
Particular attention needs to be paid to persons in vulnerable situations, such as women and girls who are subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as gender and sexual minorities, and persons with disabilities.
Protecting civilians is one of the key tasks of UN peacekeeping operations. Providing training for peacekeeping personnel on how to ensure the protection of civilians is critical for successfully implementing this mandate.
Access to water is a prerequisite for the protection of civilians and food security, and for providing essential services. Modern warfare has an impact on water sources and provision by destroying essential infrastructure, and by causing pollution and environmental degradation. Water is indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, and has special protection under international humanitarian law.
Water plays an increasing role in geopolitical strategies, and pressures on transboundary basins are mounting. In many contexts, these effects may be exacerbated by climate change. Transboundary water cooperation often continues during armed conflict, and can act as a driver for peace. We call on governments to make necessary investments in providing access to water, particularly in areas already marginalised and prone to conflict. We call on the development community to invest in basic services and climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-prone regions.
Five years after the adoption of resolution 2417, the impact of conflicts on global hunger remains strong, and work remains to be done to change the trend. We welcome the attention of the Security Council to this important topic, and remain committed to the objectives set forth in resolution 2417.