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Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Watch the video on webtv.un.org

Thank you for this opportunity to address the critical issue of protection of civilians in armed conflict.

During my ten years as High Commissioner for Refugees, I saw the tragic results of our failure to protect civilians caught up in conflict, in refugee camps and settlements that I visited all over the world. I heard countless horrific stories and met many of the women and girls, men and boys who fled for their lives. Their suffering is incalculable, as is the wasted human potential they represent.

But despite our efforts, civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflict around the world.

In Syria, the Commission of Inquiry has documented relentless attacks and sieges that show no signs of abating. In South Sudan, horrendous abuses continue as parties to the conflict target civilians including aid workers. In Yemen, civilians are trapped and targeted by all sides.

Attacks against humanitarian personnel and supplies continue, putting national staff at particular risk. The deliberate denial of access to aid and the abuse of bureaucratic restrictions are becoming more prevalent in conflict zones. Suffering is pushed to unbearable limits when civilians are deprived of food and healthcare in sieges that can last months, or in some cases, years. Cities like Aleppo, Juba and Mosul have become death traps, while the destruction of housing, schools, markets, hospitals, and vital infrastructure will affect generations to come. Attacks on hospitals and medical staff, and the removal of medical supplies from humanitarian convoys, are symptoms of a continued grave disregard for international law and the protection of civilians.

Endemic sexual violence including rape, abduction, human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced marriage contributes to the disproportionate suffering of women and girls in conflict. Women are particularly at risk in urban warfare, during house searches and operations in residential areas and at checkpoints. This brutality has forced unprecedented numbers of civilians to flee in search of safety. More than 65 million people are displaced by conflict, violence and persecution worldwide, two-thirds of them within their own countries. These unrelenting attacks on civilians, coupled with lack of access to aid, are also playing a major role in creating conflict-driven famines that threaten 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

One year ago, the Security Council took specific action to improve the protection of medical care during conflict, by adopting resolution 2286. In August, my predecessor submitted recommendations that I fully endorse, for the swift implementation of this resolution by Member States and other parties to conflict. These developments created hope of an improvement in the lives of millions of people affected by war and violence.

But on the ground, little has changed. Attacks against medical workers and medical facilities continue. No one is spared.

According to the World Health Organization, attacks on medical care including hospitals, doctors, ambulances, and on the wounded and the sick took place in at least 20 countries affected by conflict in 2016. In most of these places, fragile medical systems were already at the breaking point as staff struggled to treat huge numbers of people. In most cases, no one was held accountable.

In Syria, Physicians for Human Rights has documented more than 400 attacks on medical facilities since the conflict began. More than 800 medical staff have been killed. In Yemen, just a few months after the adoption of resolution 2286, 15 people including 3 medical staff were reported killed when a hospital was hit in an airstrike – even though the roof of the building was clearly marked and the GPS coordinates had been shared with all parties.

In Afghanistan, the number of reported attacks against health facilities and personnel almost doubled in 2016 compared with 2015. These attacks are evidence of a broader trend: parties to conflict are treating hospitals and health clinics as targets, rather than respecting them as sanctuaries. This goes against the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, the fundamental tenets of international humanitarian law, and our basic humanity. These attacks not only cause immediate suffering to patients, medical workers and their families. They deprive entire communities of essential healthcare, making them uninhabitable and contributing to the global displacement crisis.

In Syria, more than half of all medical facilities are closed or are only partially functioning, and two-thirds of specialized medical personnel have fled the country.

In South Sudan, after years of attacks on medical facilities, less than 50 per cent are functional in areas affected by conflict. This severely restricts the services they can provide. Resolution 2286 and the Secretary-General’s recommendations provide an important platform to enhance respect for the norms of international humanitarian law.

What is needed now is action that will turn these words into reality. There is some progress. Switzerland and Canada have gathered an informal group of States to support implementation of Resolution 2286. Several Member States are in the process of reviewing their domestic laws and policies to strengthen implementation. In some conflict zones, parties to conflict and national authorities are discussing de-confliction arrangements, and are making credible efforts to investigate incidents.

The United Nations, for its part, is improving data collection so we can understand patterns and work to change them. The World Health Organization is consolidating and sharing information on attacks that obstruct access to medical care. I welcome these efforts and thank the civil society organizations that have played such an important role in driving them. I urge all to use these as a basis for progress.

More broadly, there are three clear ways to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict: First, we must ensure greater respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.

I urge parties to conflict to take concrete steps to limit harm to civilians in their military operations, as they are obliged to do under international law. And I call on all Member States to use their influence to promote respect for international law and ensure accountability for violations. I urge those engaged in arm transfers to show greater responsibility and consider the potential consequences of those sales, for human lives and for our common security. And I call on all to support the international accountability mechanisms that complement national efforts, including the International Criminal Court. Second, we must step up the protection of humanitarian and medical missions, by implementing my predecessor’s recommendations on resolution 2286. Many of these measures can and should be extended to protect other humanitarian actors – and all civilians.

We must also prioritize the protection of civilians in UN peace operations, and ensure that missions have the capacity to deliver their mandates. The Security Council has a central role to play here. I call on all Member States to endorse the Kigali principles on the Protection of Civilians as an urgent priority.

Third, we must do more to prevent forced displacement and find durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced people. We need a strong and comprehensive agreement to reestablish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime, in line with international refugee law, and we must commit to action on the plight of the internally displaced. We must also tackle the causes of displacement. That means addressing the root causes of conflicts by investing in inclusive and sustainable development, promoting all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural – and the rule of law, strengthening governance and institutions, and enhancing mediation capacity, from communities to national governments. No one is winning today’s wars; everybody is losing. I appeal to all leaders, parties to conflict and those with influence to bring these raging conflicts to an end, and to do all in their power to prevent new ones from erupting.

Preventing and ending conflict is my first priority.

I call on you all to make it yours, for the sake of the millions of civilians who are suffering around the world. Thank you very much.

Grand Commander Statement

"We join the world in shock and outrage at this cowardly and dishonourable attack against innocent concert goers." said Marcel de PICCIOTTO, Grand Commander of OSMTH. "Our deepest sympathies and prayers for the victims and families of the concert attack in the United Kingdom. Our members around the world stand in solidarity with our members in the Grand Priory of United Kingdom as they mourn the loss of these victims. Let us all stand together for freedom and peace."

Respectfully,

HE BG Dr Chev Marcel de Picciotto Grand Commander

UN NGO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, LEARNING AND LITERACY ANNOUNCES NEW OFFICERS

NEW YORK, April 4, 2017 – The nongovernmental organization (NGO) committee on education, learning and literacy (CELL) elected nine new officers in New York City on Thursday, March 30. The NGO CELL Nominating Committee oversaw the votes from 16 participating organizations. All candidates were elected with approval rates of over 87 percent.

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NGO Letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

24 March 2017 We, concerned NGOs and representatives of the feminist and women’s movement, wish to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary-General of the United Nations. We also wish to thank you for your commitment to promoting gender equality and the advancement of women worldwide.

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The Knights Templar: From History to the Twenty-First Century Mission

The Knights Templar: From History to the Twenty-First Century Mission: Nine Hundred Years Since the Foundation of the Poor Knights of Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem
(OSMTH Publications) (Volume 2) Paperback – April 1, 2017
by Pasi Pollanen (Author, Editor), Scott Simon (Editor)


In the present book, the history of the Knights Templar and subjects related to knighthood in general are analyzed from the perspective of several authors. The purpose of the book is to celebrate the nine-hundredth anniversary of the founding of a unique organization, the Poor Knights of Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem, which has created something permanent in spite of the stony road of the poor brethren and their modern-day equivalents. The book was prepared for the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem - OSMTH. This book is the first to study the roots of the 19th century Neo-Templars scientifically.

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In Europe: Denmark/ United Kingdom/ France/ Spain/ Italy

We Pray for Those in Egypt and Nigeria

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land prays for our brothers and sisters in Cairo, Egypt and Uyo, Nigeria.

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International Religious Freedom Day 2016

27 October 2016
Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom


As we mark International Religious Freedom Day, it is becoming more apparent that the Freedom of Religion or Belief is not only desirable, but fundamental to our ability as humanity to peacefully co-exist, and live with God-given dignity irrespective of our religious or non-religious convictions.

View complete statement
For more information please contact:

Communications and Media Officer
The Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 71937076

Media and Communications Office
The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre
Shephalbury Manor
Broadhall Way, Stevenage
Hertfordshire SG2 8NP
England, United Kingdom

Milestone Decisions

October 2016 – SOFIA, BULGARIA

During the Grand Magistral Council, (GMC) OSMTH (Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem) in Sofia two important Resolutions were adopted.

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Christians and Muslims, we need to learn how to forgive

Sofia became host of the Fall Grand Magistral Council of the Sovereign Military Order of Templars, which is held two times per year. Among the participants was the Grand Commander colonel Mar-cel De Picciotto, who gave an interview for “Standart”.

15 October 2016
By Olya Al-Ahmed

View interview translation

Bulgarian National TV Report

The Order of Knights Templars fights against the terrorism and for clean water access

15.10.2016 by Victor Dremsizov

The Grand Magistral Council of the OSMTH was held in Sofia. In the meeting participated 22 countries mostly European. The decisions, taken during the Council meetings were related to two basic subjects: clean drinking water access and the fight against terrorism.

View television interview translation

OSMTH’s raison d’etre is expressed through the Brussels Declaration: “Aiding humanity on the pilgrimage through life.”
Vision and Commitment
  • Christian Ethos, Spirituality and Chivalric Values.
  • Domestic Charity and International Humanitarian Aid
  • Human Rights and the respect for Human Diversity
  • Interfaith Dialogue and Bridge-Building
  • Provide humanitarian aid to Christians and all peoples in need around the world, through physical, financial, and moral support.
  • Continue programmes that aid Christians around the world, especially in the Holy Land.
  • Promote a dialogue based on the principles of peace and justice amongst and between the faiths of the Sons of Abraham and the other great religions of the world, to establish better understanding and greater tolerance.
  • Mitigate human suffering by actively participating in activities associated with disaster relief, humanitarian aid, human rights, peace building and sustainable development, and the respect of human diversity.
  • Facilitate, mediate and advocate conflict-prevention and resolution by providing subject matter experts and supporting organizations in the fields of religious and international diplomacy.
"Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini Tuo da gloriam..."
 
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