A Chinese UN envoy on Tuesday called on the international community to eliminate the root causes of armed conflict in order to fully address the issue of missing persons in 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 conflicts," Ma Zhaoxu, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, told a Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians and missing persons in armed conflict, which was presided over by Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait's minister of foreign affairs.
The Chinese envoy said that decades ago, the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols established clear rules regarding the issue of missing persons in armed conflict. "Regrettably, for a long time, this issue hasn't received sufficient attention and hasn't been effectively addressed."
"In recent years, the number of missing persons as a result of armed conflict has continued to increase," said Ma, adding that "behind these shocking numbers is one after another family subjected to endless suffering."
"They have the right to know the whereabouts of their missing families," said the Chinese ambassador.
The Chinese envoy commended Resolution 2474, unanimously adopted at the Council meeting Tuesday and the first thematic resolution on the issue of missing persons in armed conflict adopted by the Council, believing it would help solve the issue.
"We must firmly reject anachronistic ideas such as a 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 mankind," said Ma.
"According to the Geneva Conventions, all parties to 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 separated families to reunite. The government of the country concerned bears the primary responsibility and plays an irreplaceable role," he added.
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, said Ma.
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," said the envoy.
"In this process, the judicial sovereignty of the countries concerned should be fully respected," he said.
The international community should actively provide "constructive assistance" to the countries concerned on the basis of respect for national sovereignty, he added.
The ambassador expressed the hope that "all humanitarian agencies can, in the humanitarian and professional spirit, play a constructive role in reducing the humanitarian impact of armed conflict."
Kuwait on June 3 began its presidency of the Security Council for the month of June and said it aimed to pass a UN resolution to find missing people and protect civilians in armed conflict.