On 22 November, the UN Security Council convened its bi-annual debate on the Protection of Civilians (POC) in Armed Conflict, based on the Secretary-General’s 11 November report. The Council issued a Presidential Statement which called for accountability in post-conflict and war torn societies and highlighted 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. It also deplored attacks targeting humanitarian personnel and calls for the inclusion of POC mandates in UN peacekeeping missions. The Security Council adopted an updated version of the 15 March 2002 OCHA aide memoire annexed to the Presidential Statement. According to UNSC Press Release, the aide memoire specifies “core objectives for providing protection and assistance to conflict-affected civilians”.
Along with 48 member states, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights participated in the debate.
The debate evolved around 3 major themes:
• The responsibility of state and non-state parties to conflict to grant humanitarian personnel safe and unlimited access to provide timely and efficient humanitarian assistance to populations living in volatile areas.
• To hold violators of human rights and international humanitarian law accountable, including through strengthened national judicial institutions or mixed courts, working in cooperation with UN Commissions of Inquiry, and the International Criminal Court when necessary.
• In the wake of the mass rapes in the DRC, Member States noted the importance of making protection of civilians a focus of DPKO strategies, especially protection of women and children in cases of mass sexual violence and child soldiers recruitment.
Six states directly referred to RtoP in their statements. Italy and Ghana both welcomed ongoing debates at the GA and encouraged Member States to keep discussing and developing the norm. Argentina referred directly to RtoP as an important tool to ensure accountability while Bangladesh and the EU Delegation highlighted RtoP preventive component. Conversely, Sudan expressed strong opposition and concern over “attempts by some countries to utilize to serve particular political aims, such as the ongoing campaign on the so-called responsibility to protect”. Others, such as the US, Uruguay and Slovenia indirectly referred to RtoP or its core principles either mentioning the four crimes under RtoP or country-specific situations reaching that threshold.
See our page on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and previous debates.Read full RtoP excerpts