Ninth Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: 7 July 2010
On 7 July 2010, Members of the UN Security Council participated in the ninth open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. Forty Member States spoke during the proceedings, and eight States made specific reference to RtoP in their speeches. Italy mentioned its support for RtoP as “an instrument available to the international community to overcome crises”, and welcomed the informal interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on early warning, assessment and RtoP, that was planned for August 9th. While Venezuela questioned whether RtoP had achieved the necessary consensus to become operational in the protection of civilians, Bangladesh re-emphasized how important the principle of RtoP was in preventing harm to civilians in armed conflict. Peru mentioned that the international community needed to focus on pillar I and II of the Responsibility to Protect. While Turkey and Sri Lanka underlined that RtoP and the protection of civilians in armed conflict were distinct initiatives that should not be compounded, the EU delegation recalled that “there is a clear linkage between them because, when populations are properly protected, they will not fall victim to genocide, war crimes, crime against humanity and ethnic cleansing”.
See all excerpts on RtoP from the debate.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also spoke at the debate. They and Members States involved in the POC debate vocalized three main themes:
Accountability for perpetrators of crimes, in particular through strengthening national judicial mechanisms and working in concert with UN-mandated commissions and the International Criminal Court when necessary.
Humanitarian access is paramount in the protection of civilians, especially those in protracted situations. The debate condemned the targeting of humanitarian aid workers, and urged further thought on coordinating with non-state armed groups in ensuring civilians can access humanitarian aid in times of crisis.
Peacekeeping missions must be given robust mandates, and the Council must provide UN operations with sustained political support and the adequate resources to protect civilians.