South Africa remains concerned at the increase of attacks on civilians in armed conflict

Media Release


20 January 2024


South Africa remains concerned at the increase of attacks on civilians in armed conflict


The Government of the Republic of South Africa is deeply concerned about the increased attacks on civilians around the world and recent reports that more civilians were killed in armed conflict over the last year than any other year for more than a decade.


The deliberate targeting of non-combatants is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights laws and principles.


Daily, innocent civilians are being indiscriminately harmed or killed in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Sudan, Yemen and Ukraine.


In recent days, we have also seen an increase in extra-judicial executions in breach of territorial sovereignty. These breaches of international law escalate current global tensions.


Nations of the world have committed to promote peace, security, and the protection of human rights, through the adoption of various international Treaties and Conventions. Through these actions, and the establishment of a global system of governance at the end of the Second World War, there was an aspiration to end the scourge of the war as reflected in the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations.


Despite these valiant commitments violence or harm directed towards civilians during armed conflicts continues and it is often the most vulnerable in society that are affected in times of war and conflict. The intentional harm caused to innocent women, men and children is not only morally reprehensible but also runs counter to the values of humanity that the global community upholds.


It is vital that all parties involved in armed conflicts strictly adhere to international humanitarian law, which prohibits the targeting of civilians, schools, hospitals, places of worship and other civilian infrastructure. The protection of civilians must be a paramount consideration in all military operations and those responsible for any violations must be held accountable. The culture of impunity and blatant disregard of international law by powerful states and their allies has often laid the basis for these kinds of actions.


South Africa supports the efforts of the United Nations and other international organisations working towards the resolution of conflicts through diplomatic means, dialogue, and peaceful negotiations. The global community must unite in its commitment to prevent and address the root causes of armed conflicts including addressing global development challenges and ensuring the protection and well-being of civilians caught in the crossfire.


South Africa extends its condolences to the families affected by these heinous acts and expresses solidarity with those in the international community including civil society activists striving for a world where the rights and safety of civilians are upheld and protected.


South Africa remains committed to playing a constructive role in fostering peace and stability globally and calls on all nations to work together to prevent further suffering and bloodshed and aim to protect civilians from harm.


Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, +27 (82) 884-5974




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