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Annan calls for updated Security Council framework for protecting civilians

Annan calls for updated Security Council framework for protecting civilians

With new challenges to the well-being of civilian populations arising from a new warfare, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for closer UN cooperation with regional organizations on the needs of "a culture of protection" and for the inclusion of civilian protections in the design of peacekeeping missions.

In the five years since the Security Council adopted a resolution to take appropriate steps when civilian populations were deliberately targeted, "there have been new challenges to the safety and well-being of civilian populations, and the tools that we have at our disposal to address these concerns need to be developed accordingly," he says in a report to the Council.

In today's low-intensity conflicts, fought by combatants who are less well-trained than those forming conventional armies, "the impact of armed conflict on civilians goes far beyond the notion of collateral damage," he says. "Targeted attacks, forced displacement, sexual violence, forced conscription, indiscriminate killings, mutilation, hunger, disease and loss of livelihoods collectively paint an extremely grim picture of the human costs of armed conflict."

The Security Council has addressed challenges as they have arisen, most recently the issue of ensuring humanitarian access to people in need in western Sudan's Darfur, but the current framework has gaps, he says.

"For these reasons, the Security Council may wish to consider adopting a resolution incorporating developments in areas such as a more systematic, comprehensive mandate for peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions, physical protection and, especially, protection from sexual violence, and child protection," he says.

Incorporating with greater clarity the particular issues of concern and the possible actions to be taken in a resolution would strengthen the protection framework, Mr. Annan says.

Enhancing the capacity and readiness of regional organizations to respond to protection concerns, since they bring regional skills and experiences to bear, will also contribute significantly to the effectiveness with which the civilian needs are addressed, he says.

Mr. Annan notes that he has called for a more predictable humanitarian response in complex emergencies, but points out that the absence of a multi-sectoral monitoring and reporting mechanism has not allowed the Council to identify areas of concern systematically or assess the impact of its actions.

A systematic data-collection mechanism is being established jointly with the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which will draw on and collate information from existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

Efforts will be made to draw on and seek active collaboration with academic institutions working in these areas, he says.