Statement delivered by Ambassador Katalin Bogyay on “Victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious ground in the Middle East” at the Security Council Open Debate, held on 27 March 2015.
Your Excellency, Mr President,
Honorable members of the Security Council,
I thank you, Mr President, for convening this timely open debate. I also wish to thank the participants to the meeting for their informative briefings.
While fully supporting the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union, please allow me to add a few observations in my national capacity.
Today the expansion of violent extremism and terrorism pose the greatest challenge to our nations. The indiscriminate attacks, atrocities, killings and abuses of human rights perpetrated by Da’esh and other terrorist groups are unacceptable and the latest expansion of Da’esh to the Maghreb region is deeply disturbing.
The intentional and systematic targeting of members of other ethnic and religious communities not only threatens peace and security but the mere existence of these minorities in the Middle East. Increased religious violence has already led to a mass exodus of Christians, Yezidis and members of other ethnic and religious minorities from their homeland. The preservation of the region’s multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional character is of utmost importance in the maintenance of peace and security.
It is our common responsibility to stop this trend and Hungary strongly supports all initiatives aimed at defeating Da’esh and other terrorist groups. We believe that a sustainable solution can only be reached by comprehensive action and with the committed participation of all the stakeholders.
With unfortunately no immediate solution at sight, the international community must do everything to protect vulnerable populations such as ethnic and religious minorities, fight against the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, address the arising security and humanitarian challenges and support diverse and inclusive societies in the region. Hungary believes that a comprehensive plan of action by the international community, ideally under the auspices of the United Nations, is necessary to prevent the attacks and abuses on ethnic and religious grounds.
Hungary plays its role in stepping up against violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. We have offered humanitarian aid to the Christian communities and Kurdistan authorities in Iraq, contributed financial and material support to ease the refugee crisis in and around Syria, and provided immediate financial support to the families of the Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya. We also support military efforts against Da’esh and other terrorist groups and are currently examining further ways to contribute to fulfilling security tasks in the region.
Hungary believes that ensuring criminal accountability must be a top priority for peace and security. We strongly support accountability for serious crimes and are convinced that there can be no impunity for the horrendous acts committed by Da’esh and other terrorist groups in the Middle East - in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. The international community cannot wait any longer in taking up this issue. We of course know that bringing perpetrators to justice is not an easy task and each case requires its own approach.
Hungary welcomes and encourages the efforts made by the Government of Iraq to investigate all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and strongly recommends making the findings of these investigations public and ensuring that they lead to effective remedies for the victims. We believe that such investigations should be conducted not only related to Da’esh, but also to all perpetrators.
Bearing in mind that primary responsibility lies with the Iraqi state, Hungary believes that acceptance of the ICC jurisdiction by Iraq under Article 12 (3) of the Rome Statute may also be an option to fight impunity. We also encourage Iraq to become a party to the Rome Statute. Should this not happen in the near future, the Security Council could consider referring the situation in Iraq to the Court, following due consultations with the Government. While noting that Hungary was one of the first countries that raised this option already last September, we welcome that in its recently published report, the investigative mission dispatched by the OHCHR to Iraq arrived at the same conclusion.
With respect to the crimes committed in Libya, the Hungarian Government has requested the ICC Prosecutor to expand her investigations originally initiated as a result of the Security Council referral in 2011, into the recent execution of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
The ICC is only one of the various options for bringing perpetrators to justice. Hungary encourages all States to prosecute violations of international humanitarian law and human rights with means available under their national jurisdictions as well.
As my country’s former permanent representative to UNESCO and the President of the 36th session of its General Conference, I feel strongly about denouncing in the strongest terms the deliberate destruction of cultural and religious sites and artefacts by Da’esh and associated groups in Iraq. These symbolic destructions go hand in hand with the tangible decimation of the minority communities, aiming at erasing their historical identity and seriously threatening the diversity of the region. The attacks against the cultural heritage of humanity also constitute war crimes under Article 8 of the Rome Statute and the Prosecutor of the ICC could investigate them, provided that the legal basis for such investigations is established either by a Security Council referral or by Iraq accepting the jurisdiction of the Court.
I thank you Mr. President.