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Statement of Estonia at the Second Formal Meeting in the Intergovernmental Process on Strengthening Respect for International Humanitarian Law

11.04.2017

Geneva, 11 April 2017




Thank you, Mr Chair,


 Estonia would also like to extend our gratitude to Switzerland and the ICRC for the background document provided, which we believe provides an excellent outline for the discussion here today.


 As to the main topic at hand, Estonia sees the potential forum of states as a platform to learn from each other in order to enhance respect for and to together overcome obstacles in implementing IHL. What we regard as the primary issue at focus is that of the challenges all states face in capability-building. Collectively, we have not yet overcome challenges related to the emergence of non-state actors in armed conflicts. We are also faced with new challenges, such as applying IHL in contemporary domains and to modern technologies. A forum of states could provide a safe space to address such and other issues in a non-politisized and non-contectualized manner.


We believe that there is work to be done and discussions to be held to together improve our capability to tackle the said challenges. The eloquent description by the German delegate is likely familiar to many of the states present here. This aim can presicely be achieved by sharing best practices and ideas with other states, not necessarily having to agree collectively on all fronts. If we don’t lose focus of what the potential forum stands for and aims to do, we can concentrate on mutual capacity building, not the assessment nor judgement of where other states’ implementation of concrete IHL obligations is correct or not in practice.


To touch upon the question of safeguards proposed to avoid non-politization of the forum of states, we support previous statements, such as that by our CZ colleague here yesterday in that it is up to us as states to set the ground for achieving non-politization. As mentioned also by the US and Uruguayan delegations and highlighted by Norway and others, it may be explicitly stated in the rules of procedure of this potential forum of states what non-politization and non-contextualization means for us, the states. We would also like to echo our Australian colleague who mentioned other forums that have achieved just this regionally and we believe the same could be successful on a global scale. Additionally, what is proposed in the background document are very concrete methods of establishing such safeguards: powers may be accorded to the chair presiding over debates to ensure observance of rules agreed upon jointly. All written documents submitted by delegations to such a forum could be made subject to a review in order to ensure conformity with the set standards.


With regard to the questions posed at the end of the meeting yesterday, we believe that the fruitful discussion yesterday, including the statements by the UK, Australia, Slovakia, Uruguay, the Netherlands and others, provided a good reply to the questions posed in respect to existing gaps and the question of duplication. We would also like to again draw attention to the non-papers distributed by Spain, UK/Uruguay and France which also provide answers to these questions.


I thank you.




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