Even Wars have Limits: Belgium calls for humanitarian protection and respect for International Humanitarian Law

In the margins of United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders calls upon all member states to reinforce their commitment to protection of civilians in armed conflicts and the respect of international humanitarian law. Even wars have limits. Killing innocent citizens and humanitarian aid workers is never acceptable. For this reason, Belgium organized an event in cooperation with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Citizens and humanitarian aid workers are all too often directly attacked during armed conflicts, which is against international humanitarian law. Today, 80% of the worldwide humanitarian help goes to the reconstruction of essential infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. In the past decades, thousands of aid workers have been killed while doing their job. Action has to be taken to stop this.

During his intervention, Minister Reynders pointed out the very heavy human cost of armed conflicts when international humanitarian law is not respected. He highlighted the importance of medical care and education in that regard. He also stressed the importance of dialogue between countries to strengthen the international humanitarian law and to better enforce its implementation.

Belgium takes humanitarian protection very seriously and has worked tirelessly to defend it. Our country does so in close cooperation with, among others, OCHA and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Earlier this year Belgium doubled its contribution to ICRC to help promote and protect International Humanitarian Law.

Also during our mandate in the Security Council, Belgium wants to keep humanitarian protection high on the international agenda.