The United Nations will make treaties that defend and uphold the rights of civilians this year's focus of its annual drive to encourage as many Member States as possible to ratify some of the more than 500 global pacts.
During a four-day forum starting on 21 September, which coincides with the seasonal opening of the General Assembly, the UN will highlight 24 key treaties which offer protection for non-combatants - including conventions that deal specifically with the rights of women, children and migrant workers.
Palitha Kohona, Chief of the UN Treaty Section, told a press briefing today that civilians are increasingly the main victims of contemporary wars. A recent UN report found that globally, civilians suffer human rights abuses and are often denied humanitarian aid. At least 10 million civilians caught up in 20 separate conflicts – civil and international – are estimated by the UN to be restricted from access to aid.