Shringla made the comments on Friday at the UN Security Council briefing on ‘Protection of Civilians in armed conflict: Preserving humanitarian space’.
“The complex nature of humanitarian situations around the world today demands the urgent attention of the Council,” he said.
Shringla stressed that “terrorism further compounds the twin problems of violence against humanitarian personnel and lack of accountability.
“Access to new and emerging technologies has enhanced the capacities of terrorist groups to obstruct humanitarian action, including safe and unhindered access for medical and humanitarian agencies. There needs to be zero tolerance for terrorism,” he said.
Shringla is on an official visit to New York from July 14-16 to participate in high-level meetings of the Security Council being held under the French Presidency.
Speaking in the Council, he said sanctioning individuals and entities perpetrating serious violations of international humanitarian law, especially attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel, is an effective tool for the Council to check and cease violations.
“We, however, believe that such measures should have wider regional and international support, in the absence of which, there may be further deterioration of the humanitarian crisis and shrinking of the humanitarian space,” he said.
He cited the example of Syria, where both UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have repeatedly spoken about the worsening impact of such measures on humanitarian operations on the ground.
India asserted that respect for the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of member states, should remain the basis for all humanitarian actions taken by the Council.
“The Council must avoid politicisation of humanitarian work and of humanitarian actors involved in conflict. Humanitarian action should not be used as a ploy to undermine the territorial integrity of States,” Shringla said, as he noted that too often “we have seen humanitarian assistance being linked to coercive measures by external players in order to force outcomes desired by them.”
He said such actions run the risk of being counter-productive to achieving a resolution of the conflict itself and could further shrink the necessary space for much needed humanitarian action or assistance.
Shringla underscored that the primary responsibility for providing protection and assistance in a humanitarian crisis lies with the concerned country and its national government.
“However, international humanitarian assistance, when provided, must be given impartially,” in accordance with the guiding principles outlined in General Assembly Resolution 46/182 and other relevant resolutions. The General Assembly resolution 46/182 designed the blueprint for the current international humanitarian system.
“India remains committed to preserving the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in responding to all humanitarian situations,” Shringla said.
Calling upon all States to respect and adhere to the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles, Shringla said this alone will prevent any further shrinkage of the humanitarian space.
“India remains committed to working with the international community to address global humanitarian challenges in an effective and comprehensive manner,” he said.