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The UNSC reaffirmed its commitment to the protection of civilians in armed conflict

Presidential Statement on the Protection of Civilians

At the 6427th meeting of the Security Council, held on 22nd November 2010, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “Protection of civilians in armed conflict”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

1. The Security Council reaffirms its commitment regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict, to the continuing and full implementation, in a mutually-reinforcing manner of all previous relevant resolutions and statements of its president including resolutions 1265 (1999), 1296 (2000), 1325 (2000), 1612 (2005), 1674(2006), 1738 (2006), 1820 (2008), 1882 (2009), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1894 (2009), noting in particular that resolution 1894 marked a significant step in providing guidance to ensure the effective protection of civilians on the ground.

2. The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians of (Date to be confirmed) (S/2010/579) and the recommendations contained therein.

3. The Security Council recalls that on 15 March 2002 an Aide Memoire was adopted, as a practical tool that provides a basis for improved analysis and diagnosis of key protection issues. The Security Council adopts the updated aide memoire contained in the annex to this Statement of its President and stresses the need to continue its use on a more systematic and consistent basis.

4. The Security Council recognizes that States bear the primary responsibility to respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction as provided for by relevant international law.

5. The Security Council reaffirms that parties to armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civiliansand urges parties to armed conflict to meet their basic needs, and give attention to the specific needs of women and children, refugees, internally displaced persons, as well as other civilians who may have specific vulnerabilities including persons with disabilities and older persons.

6. The Security Council emphasizes that the promotion of peace processes and the achievement of sustainable peace and development as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law are of utmost importance for the long term protection of civilians.

7. The Security Council remains committed to addressing the impact of armed conflict on civilians, in particular women and children. The Council expresses its deep regret that civilians continue to account for the vast majority of casualties in situations of armed conflict, including as a result of deliberate targeting, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks and sexual and gender based violence, as well as other acts that violate applicable international law. The Council demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and reaffirms its readiness to adopt appropriate measures.

8. The Security Council notes with concern the humanitarian impact of conflict, in or near densely populated areas, and calls on parties to armed conflict to give protection to the civilian population in accordance with applicable international humanitarian law.

9. The Security Council reiterates its strong condemnation of all violations of applicable international law and demands that parties to armed conflict comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, as well as to implement all relevant decisions of the Security Council. The Security Council emphasizes in this context the responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations to end impunity and notes that the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern has been strengthened through prosecution of these crimes in national, international and “mixed” criminal courts and tribunals, commissions of inquiry as well as specialized chambers in national tribunals. The Council takes note of the stocktaking of international criminal justice undertaken by the first Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala, Uganda from 31 May to 11 June 2010. The Security Council also draws attention to the full range of justice and reconciliation mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation commissions, national reparation programmes and institutional reforms.

10. The Security Council recognises the needs of civilians under foreign occupation and stresses further, in this regard, the responsibilities of the occupying power in full compliance with international humanitarian law.

11. The Council reiterates the importance for all, within the framework of humanitarian assistance, of upholding and respecting the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The Security Council condemns and calls for the cessation of all acts of violence and other forms of intimidation deliberately directed at humanitarian personnel as such and calls on all parties to conflict to comply with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian law to respect and protect humanitarian personnel and relief consignments. The Council underlines in this respect the importance to continue the systematic monitoring and analysis of constraints on humanitarian access.

12. The Security Council stresses the importance of achieving durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons, in particular their voluntary, safe and dignified return, or local integration or resettlement.

13. The Security Council welcomes the proposals, conclusions and recommendations on the protection of civilians included in the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (A/64/19). The Council stresses the importance of ensuring engagement by senior mission leadership on the protection of civilians, with a view to ensuring that all mission components and all levels of the chain of command are properly informed of and involved in the mission’s protection mandate and their relevant responsibilities. The Council welcomes progress made by the Secretary-General in elaborating a conceptual framework, outlining resource and capability requirements and developing operational tools for the implementation of protection of civilians mandates. The Council emphasises the importance of improving pre-deployment training for peacekeeping personnel on the protection of civilians. The Council encourages troop and police contributing countries to make full use of and provide feedback on these important materials.

14. The Security Council underlines that, in order to carry out their mandate, missions must communicate effectively with local communities and have the capacity to do so. The Council underlines, in this context, the importance of taking into account gender sensitivities and of making full use of all the tools available to the mission, in particular its Public Information and Civil Affairs components, such as civil affairs officers, community liaison interpreters, and radio.

15. The Security Council reaffirms its practice of requiring benchmarks to measure and review progress made in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, underlines the importance of clear benchmarks in the context of drawdown in peacekeeping missions, and stresses the importance of including indicators of progress regarding the protection of civilians in such benchmarks for relevant missions.

16. The Security Council recognises the need for systematic monitoring and reporting on progress to protect civilians in armed conflict. The Security Council further reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to develop guidance for peacekeeping and other relevant missions on the reporting of the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The Security Council reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to include in his reports on country-specific situations more comprehensive and detailed information relating to protection of civilians in armed conflict.

17. The Security Council notes the practice of briefings to Security Council members by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on behalf of the United Nations’ humanitarian community.

18. The Security Council takes note of the Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict.

19. The Security Council emphasizes that all civilians affected by armed conflict, including those suffering losses as a result of lawful acts under international law, deserve assistance and recognition in respect of their inherent dignity as human beings.

20. The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to submit his next report on the protection of civilians by May 2012.

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