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Security Council stresses importance of protecting civilians in armed conflict

Security Council stresses importance of protecting civilians in armed conflict

Amb. Ole Peter Kolby
Reaffirming its concern at the hardships borne by civilians during armed conflict and acknowledging the effect their plight has on peace prospects, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a document containing guidelines designed to help deliberations on issues relating to the protection of non-combatants.

The aide memoire adopted at this morning’s meeting as part of an ongoing series of discussions by the Council on the issue, was prepared in conjunction with the UN Secretariat and was welcomed by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kenzo Oshima.

In a statement read out at an open meeting by Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, the Council’s current president, the 15-member body also stressed the need, when considering ways to protect civilians in armed conflict, “to proceed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the particular circumstances.”

Briefing the Council prior to the adoption of the statement, Mr. Oshima said the aide memoire could “serve as a quick and easy reference guide for Council members when developing a peacekeeping mandate” and commended the unprecedented cooperation in developing the document.

Mr. Oshima also stressed that it was important that decisive and timely action was taken to end the suffering of millions of innocent victims of warfare, including women and children.

As examples, the Under-Secretary-General drew attention to the Middle East, where the escalation of violence has resulted in many civilian casualties over the past few days alone, and the Sudan, where “we have collectively been dismayed by the recent pattern of attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers and facilities.”

As for Angola, where more than a third of the population – some 4.6 million people – have been displaced by conflict, Mr. Oshima described the Government’s declaration on Wednesday of a ceasefire as “ground-breaking news.”

Mr. Oshima also noted the recent allegations of sexual exploitation of children in refugee camps in West Africa, and the measures the UN system was taking to deal with the matter while the investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services continued.

“While these problems and situations, among others, continue to demand our most pressing attention, it is important not to lose sight of the progress that has been made in enhancing the protection of civilians in recent years – both by the Council and the international community more widely, including numerous NGOs [non-governmental organizations],” he said.



- Security Council meeting