Statement on Gaza following the 26 January order issued by the ICJ

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Madam President,

I would also like to start thanking Under-Secretary-General Mr Griffiths for his briefing. With each briefing that the Security Council receives, the already devastating situation in Gaza is turning to worse.

My minister spoke in this chamber last week at length about the need for a ceasefire in order to stop human suffering, to deliver humanitarian assistance, to bring hostages home, to secure Gaza and Israel from attacks and destruction, to devise a plan for a political solution of two states and so on.

We appreciate efforts of all states and leaders who are trying to secure a humanitarian pause leading to a lasting cessation of hostilities. We need that pause now.

Madam President,

Today I would like to reflect on two topics that are at the forefront of discussions with regard to Gaza these days: respect for international law and situation around UNRWA.

Slovenia has been and will continue being a strong supporter of international law. Respect for international law and a strong international legal system are the best guarantees for maintaining international peace and security. This is what we understand under the term rule based international order that we often like to invoke.

Unwavering commitment to international law includes respect for and compliance with the decisions of international courts and tribunals. Slovenia welcomes the ICJ order in the case of South Africa against Israel, indicating provisional measures. Court’s orders are final and binding and we therefore expect and call for swift and full implementation of the order.

We further echo Court’s concern about the fate of the hostages abducted during the attack on 7 October and we once again call for their immediate release and for granting the ICRC access to them.

Slovenia would like to underline Court’s independence and voice our clear and strong support for its work.

In relation to the provisional measures, we would like to emphasize that obligations under the convention are of erga omnes partes nature and all state parties to the Convention have a legal interest in ensuring compliance with its provisions. This includes court’s order to enable the provisions of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance. As members of the Security Council, we carry additional responsibility for the implementation of the order.

Madam President,

Since its inception in 1949, UNRWA or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has been a lifeline to millions of Palestinians in diverse areas of its assistance: education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict. By providing services and administrating its installations, UNRWA has been a signal of hope and provider of essentials to generations of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Many of its staff lost their lives while serving the Agency.

Let me express our deep concern over allegations that a number of Gazans employed by UNRWA were associated with the horrific Hamas attack on 7 October. Slovenia welcomes a prompt response by the Secretary General and the UNRWA Commissioner General to conduct internal and independent investigations, as well as an audit requested by the EU regarding the allegations. We are looking forward to swift results of the investigations and recommendations how to improve work of the agency.  

At the same time, Slovenia underlines its continuous support for the important work of UNRWA as a lifeline for millions of people in Gaza and beyond. UNRWA is the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza and there is no viable substitute for its work in Gaza. Their operation in the next weeks and months is vital for the implementation of the ICJ order on provisional measures.

Thank you.

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