The Protection of Civilians in Armed Combat by ezm24188


									    The Protection of Civilians in Armed Combat –
                    Briefing Paper
      Hello, delegates for the Security Council. My name is Tom Farshi, and I am the
development officer. The issue I’m covering is The Protection of Civilians in Armed
Combat, something which if not solved could potentially increase victims of war related

        Realising the effects of modern warfare on civilian populations, the Secretary-
General of the UN called for the establishment of a “culture of protection” in a report on the
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in March 2001. Since conflict has become more
advanced and complex, the civilian population has come under increasing and persistent
threats. Civilians are regularly caught in cross fires or deliberately targeted as means of
furthering a cause. Implementing a framework for the Protection of Civilians is an on-going
priority for the United Nations.

       The Secretary-General now reports regularly on the Protection of Civilians in Armed
Conflict. Since 1999, five reports have been presented to the Security Council, which are
prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in
consultation with all UN departments and other relevant humanitarian organisations.

      Progress made so far
        Gradually progress has been made with the activities of the International Criminal
Court(ICC). The ICC have prosecuted many war criminals from notable cases including
the United Kingdom's arrest, requested by Spanish Authorities, of former Chilean
President Pinochet on charges of torture, and the arrest of Chad's former President
Hissein Habre, by Senegal on similar charges. The successful prosecution of individual
criminals can go a long way toward helping to heal the wounds of war by allowing victims
to feel that justice has been met, as well as ending impunity which could act as a deterrent
to those who may violate the rights of civilians later.
Also seen are many resolutions made by the Security Council, links to which can be found
at the end.
 Geneva conventions have also gone a long way to helping the issue. The fourth Geneva
Convention dealt with protection of civilians during times of war, to which there is a link to
at the end. However, all Geneva conventions may be relevant to the topic.

However, there are still many issues with all the progress made. The Secretary-General
stated while talking to the Council, “The task before us now is to take the necessary steps
to fully realize that potential and meet the five core challenges.”

He then continues to say, “ In practice, that entails consistent application of the aide-
memoire on the protection of civilians; regular meetings of the expert group on the issue
prior to establishing or renewing peacekeeping mandates; consistent condemnation of
violations of the law by all parties to conflict, without exception; ensuring compliance,
including targeted measures, mandating commissions of inquiry and referring situations to
the International Criminal Court; and timely deployment of peacekeeping missions or
additional temporary capacity with robust protection mandates.”

There are other issues also. One extremely important issue is humanitarian access being
blocked from reaching the millions of people in desperate need of help. Done by either
governments or waring factions. Depriving basic necessities – withholding food, and
deliberately starving civilians – as a weapon of war. Access is often denied because it is
viewed as contrary to the political and military objectives of a warring party. Establishing
an agreement and having freedom of movement in the conflict area can contribute to
normalization and building confidence among war affected populations. This is but one of
many solutions available to combat this problem.

Forced displacement or forced migration may be another very important issue. Those
subjected are known as internally displaced persons (IDPs) are today estimated to number
over 50 million worldwide of which 25-30 million have lost their homes due to conflict. The
responsibility of assisting IDPs lies with governments, and national and local authorities.
The UNHCR is mandated to lead international action for the protection and assistance of
refugees. It is not the only organisation to deal with IDPs but it could be the most
influential. However, consistent lack of funding remains a major constraint to international
efforts on IDPs. The funding of IDP-related aid is comparatively low.

Although already highlighted as a progressed organisation, the ICC still has many issues.
In truth it is almost impossible to prosecute all suspected perpetrators of conflict-related
crimes. Truth commissions have become an accepted method of addressing impunity and
helping people reconcile the past. One is planned for Sierra Leone for many of the same
reasons. However, a Truth Commission should never be a substitute for individual
prosecution. To help combat this problem, a solution should be found to allow the ICC or
other such organisations to be able to prosecute most if not all war criminals.

Often during armed combat woman and girls are vulnerable to sexual violence, mutilation
and trafficking, all of which used as weapons of war. The Council called for prosecution of
crimes against women, an increased protection of women and girls and ensuring that
woman participate more in decision making in conflict resolution and peace process. Still
however, crimes are committed against them and preventative matters may need to be
taken or other possible solutions.

An overlooked yet threatening issue is that of landmines. They are often laid with the
express purpose of forcing civilians from their communities. Those who survive the initial
mine blast almost always suffer horrific injuries and amputations, and are often left
disabled for life. Landmines impede the reconstruction process of war-affected societies,
the return of refugees and IDPs to their communities. They hinder political reconciliation
and block humanitarian relief efforts. As of 1 March 2001, the Ottawa Treaty has 133
signatures, 112 parties, and 6 accessions. The Treaty had yielded some progress
manufacturing landmines or their components, and all traditional exporters of mines,
except Iraq, have officially ceased their activities. Even with this accomplishment, the
threat of landmines remains apparent.

Also an issue is the elderly population in war and after when reconstructing. Field studies
say that elderly men and women wanted to full partners in reconstruction and rehabilitation
measures. One major issue is isolation, many being deliberately left behind to guard land
and also abandoned in the chaos as other family members escape, unable to fend for
themselves because of the destruction of communities and social support systems. Few
agencies provide tracing and family reunification programs for older adults, resulting in
their permanent abandonment and neglect. Possible solutions should be found to re-unite
families, not just for the elderly, and also allow integration back into their communities.
There is a link to an OCHA report with full details and further issues below.

One other issue is the case of journalists. During warfare the misuse of information can
have deadly consequences in armed conflicts, just as information correctly employed can
save lives. The hate media, when used to incite genocide such as in Rwanda, is an
extreme example of the way information can be manipulated to promote conflict and incite
mass violence. Hate speech, misinformation and hostile propaganda continue to be used
as blunt instruments against civilians, triggering ethnic violence and forcing displacement.
Preventing the spread of this information and ensuring distribution of accurate information
is essential. Therefore, the protection of journalists and media crew is fundamental. All
journalists and media crew are classed as civilians, having the same rights as each
civilian. It should therefore be the foremost objective to work for improved compliance with
their rights. This requires proper training and instructions for those who have to implement


Security Council Reports + All Other Documentation -
ICC Papers + Security Council Resolutions -
OCHA Protection of Civilians in Armed Combat Homepage –
OCHA Paper on The Protection of Civilians in Armed Combat: Older People -
Fourth Geneva Convention -

To top