Statement by Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu at Security Council briefing on missing persons in armed conflict
China appreciates the initiative of Kuwait to convene a briefing on missing persons in armed conflict and welcomes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, his excellency Mr. Al-Sabah, to come to New York to preside over the meeting. I thank ICRC president Maurer, and Director Gaelani of OCHA’s Operations and Advocacy Division for their briefings.
Decades ago, the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols established clear rules regarding the issue of missing persons in armed conflict. Unfortunately, for a long time, this issue has not received sufficient attention and has not been effectively addressed. In recent years, the number of missing persons as a result of armed conflict has continued to increase. Behind these shocking numbers is one after another family subjected to endless suffering. They have the right to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Resolution 2474 unanimously adopted today is the first thematic resolution on the issue of missing persons in armed conflict adopted by the Council. This not only fully demonstrates that the Council places high priority on this issue and stands firm in upholding international humanitarian law, but also has important significance for effectively addressing the issue of missing persons in armed conflict. China welcomes this and joined the cosponsors of the draft resolution. We commend the Government of Kuwait and its Permanent Mission for the hard work to this end.
To fully address the issue of missing persons in armed conflict, we must eliminate the root causes of armed conflict. The Security Council should earnestly fulfill its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security by vigorously promoting the resolution of differences through dialogue, consultation and political negotiations to prevent conflict, resolve disputes peacefully and reduce armed conflict. We must firmly reject anachronistic ideas such as clash of civilizations, Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, forge a constructive partnership featuring non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party and work to set up a paradigm of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation in a joint effort to build a community of shared future for human kind.
In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, all parties to a conflict, including the countries concerned, should assume responsibility for searching for missing persons in armed conflict and are obligated to inform their families of their whereabouts and help reunite separated families. The government of the country concerned bears the primary responsibility and plays an irreplaceable role. If conflict is unavoidable, the parties should take effective measures as soon as possible, when conditions allow, to prevent and reduce the disappearance of persons. It is necessary to register the information on prisoners and other relevant persons, make every effort to search for the missing persons and establish information sharing and communication channels with their families. The cases of large number of people going missing in armed conflict should be investigated to hold those responsible accountable in line with domestic law and relevant international law. In this process, the judicial sovereignty of the countries concerned should be fully respected.
The international community should actively provide constructive assistance to the countries concerned on the basis of respect for national sovereignty. It is imperative to strengthen information and experience sharing, help the countries concerned with capacity building in such fields of science and technology as forensic sciences, ground penetrating radar, satellite positioning, etc., and respond to the issue of missing persons in armed conflict in a tailored approach. In this regard, China highly commends ICRC for upholding the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence and for playing an important and positive role in solving relevant issues over the years. It is our hope that all humanitarian agencies can play a constructive role in reducing the humanitarian impact of armed conflict and in searching for missing persons in a spirit of humanitarianism and professionalism.
Thank you, Mr. President.