Despite more media attention, civilians in armed conflict face grim realities: UN official

Despite more media attention, civilians in armed conflict face grim realities: UN official

Kenzo Oshima
Despite the growing media attention recently to the fate of civilians caught in armed conflict, the realities faced by millions of people around the world remain grim, the United Nations top relief official said today.

In a briefing to an open meeting of the Security Council on the issue of civilians in armed conflict, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima said that while the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians in armed conflict rested with governments, it was important to reach beyond traditional lines, create synergies among a wide range of actors and require the commitment and cooperation of Member States, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, the media, the private sector and academia.

The situation in Afghanistan highlighted many of the issues addressed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Mr. Oshima said. He went on to outline several initiatives underway to implement UN recommendations on the issue, including a "road map" that would identify institutions for their implementation.

ist in the preparation of the road map, Mr. Oshima said his Office had organized a series of workshops for interested Member States, UN staff, agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), non-governmental organizations and experts.

The Under-Secretary-General also described an aide-memoire process that would serve as a checklist to ensure that the protection of civilians was systematically taken into consideration in establishing, changing or closing peacekeeping mandates. A third initiative involved steps to ensure closer coordination between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Following Mr. Oshima's briefing, the Council engaged in an exchange of questions and answers, with the participation of representatives from Ukraine, Singapore, Norway, Colombia, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritius and Tunisia.