U.N. representative says international community must take steps to keep Syrians safe

The international community must increase its responsibility to develop practical steps to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflicts around the world, a U.S. representative to the U.N. said on Monday.

Rosemary DiCarlo, the deputy permanent representative of the U.S. mission to the U.N., made the remarks on Monday during a U.N. Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. DiCarlo said that despite strong international humanitarian law meant to protect civilians, most victims in recent armed conflicts were civilians.

"In Syria, over 100,000 people have tragically lost their lives," DiCarlo said. "Among these are innocent civilians including women and children who should have been safe from violence. We need to use the tools at hand to improve compliance with (international humanitarian law) to prevent the loss of innocent lives."

DiCarlo said the international community must use tools like the the Children and Armed Conflict Action Plans and international justice mechanisms to expose and document abuses of human rights.

In Syria, the U.S. is preparing Syrians for accountability by supporting the documentation of human rights violations committed by all sides of the conflicts. DiCarlo said that without accountability, the cycles of violence will continue.

DiCarlo said the international community must improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict and make sure the U.N. Security Council never sits on the sidelines when people are in danger.

"As we have seen from Syria and Sudan to the Sahel and the Great Lakes, failure to protect civilians threatens regional stability as conflicts escalate and populations stream across borders," DiCarlo said. "Protecting civilians is the primary responsibility of states, but it is clear that the international community must keep our attention focused sharply on the practical steps we can take to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict and we must redouble our efforts to ensure that this council is not sitting on the sidelines when civilian populations are in grave danger."