Protection for humanitarian personnel: UN Security Council adopts Swiss resolution

Press releases, 24.05.2024

On 24 May 2024, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution for the protection of humanitarian and UN personnel in conflict zones. The resolution, which was negotiated and submitted by Switzerland to the Security Council for a vote, highlights the country's long-standing commitment to the protection of civilians – a priority of the Federal Council for Switzerland's 2023–24 term on the council.

The number of armed conflicts worldwide is increasing rapidly. While the world was confronted with around 20 conflicts at the turn of the millennium, this number has now surged to over 120 armed conflicts. Millions of people on almost every continent are in need of humanitarian aid, while the humanitarian and UN personnel providing this vital aid are facing increasing pressure and becoming victims of attacks themselves. More than 500 humanitarian aid workers were victims of violence in 2023, with over 250 killed. Over the past decade, the number of victims from humanitarian aid organisations has risen by more than 50%, with 90% of those affected being national or local employees.

Switzerland is deeply concerned about the increasing violence against people who provide aid. Such attacks take place in all conflict regions and often hinder life-saving measures. As an elected member of the UN Security Council, Switzerland took the initiative to negotiate a draft resolution on the protection of humanitarian and UN personnel. The adoption of the resolution is an important signal for the protection of civilians. The resolution garnered widespread support, with a total of 98 UN member states co-sponsoring the initiative.

Through this resolution, the Security Council specifically calls on UN member states to fulfil their obligations under international law to protect humanitarian and UN personnel, including national and local staff, as well as their premises and assets. The resolution also addresses emerging threats faced by humanitarian and UN personnel, including disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining their work. The Security Council expressly calls on all states, as well as state and non-state parties to conflicts, to respect and protect humanitarian and UN personnel. The resolution mandates the UN secretary-general to provide the Security Council with concrete recommendations within six months on how to better prevent such attacks and combat impunity.

The adoption of this resolution not only reinforces Switzerland's enduring commitment to humanitarian principles but also serves as a timely reminder of the importance of international humanitarian law, especially as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions in August. Providing support and protection to people in need is a cornerstone of Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2024–27.

Further information:

What does Switzerland do in the UN Security Council?
Switzerland's priorities for serving on the UN Security Council

Protection of Humanitarian Personnel and United Nations and associated Personnel and their premises and assets(pdf, 246kb)

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