World Humanitarian Summit - Toespraak van minister De Croo tijdens de rondetafel ‘Norms that Safeguard Humanity’

World Humanitarian Summit

Norms that Safeguard Humanity
High-Level Leaders’ Roundtable
Core Responsibility Five of the Agenda for Humanity

Istanbul, 24.05.2016 (9:00-11:00)

Statement by Mr Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Government of Belgium


Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than sixty years ago, after the atrocities of the Second World War, the global community came together and said “never again”.

Never again will we tolerate that basic rights of men, women and children are brutally violated during the horror of armed conflicts.

And here we are today, at a time when we see the number of people displaced by war and conflict is reaching a staggering historic high.

And at a moment when we hear, week after week, new stories of civilians being killed, their basic rights being violated, people in need of emergency aid being abandoned.

Let’s be honest. The goal of protecting the victims of armed conflicts that we gave ourselves in 1949, and that we re-affirmed in 1977, is far from being achieved.

People are suffering because the basic rules of international humanitarian law are being violated – time and time again.

This first historic World Humanitarian Summit can change this.

Tomorrow’s humanity is at the very heart of the commitments we make today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me put forward two concepts that are crucial if we want to preserve our shared humanity in the coming decades: we have to strengthen compliance and ensure accountability.

First, it is not rules that we are lacking. It is the increasing noncompliance we have to tackle. A growing number of State and non-State parties engaged in armed conflicts do not respect the basic rules that we have set.

During the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, all States recognized the need to improve compliance with international humanitarian law.

Belgium is convinced that holding regular meetings of States and experts on the implementation of international humanitarian law would help to reverse this worrying trend.

That is why Belgium will actively and constructively engage in the intergovernmental process called upon by Resolution 2 of the 32nd International Conference.

Second, strengthening compliance without ensuring accountability is an empty gesture.

Implementing international humanitarian law also means that all parties in armed conflict must monitor, report and investigate violations and ensure accountability.

States must do more to fight impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations and gross violations of human rights are promptly brought to justice.

To this end, it is crucial to strengthen the capacity of domestic jurisdictions and inter-state cooperation, in particular by further developing the international framework for mutual legal assistance in cases involving the most serious crimes of international concern.

Belgium welcomes and endorses the Collective Declaration on the Importance of and Adherence to International Humanitarian Law. Our country is, however, without prejudice to its obligations under international law, in particular the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Belgium calls on those countries that are not party yet to adhere to these instruments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

People are suffering and lives are lost, because the rules we have set are being violated. Repeatedly and consciously.

Let us stop this. And let us begin today with strengthening compliance and ensuring accountability. Not one violator should remain unpunished.

Thank you.