posted on WED 22 MAY 2019
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Open Debate

Tomorrow (23 May), the Security Council will hold its annual open debate on the “Protection of civilians in armed conflict”. The open debate, which will be chaired by Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, is expected to be at ministerial level. Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the ICRC Peter Maurer, and Executive Director Federico Borello of the Center for Civilians in Conflict are expected to brief.

Tomorrow’s open debate follows the publication of the Secretary-General’s report on the protection of civilians on 7 May (S/2019/373). The report is divided into four main sections. First, it summarises the main achievements and challenges of the UN in protecting civilians since this issue came on the Council’s agenda 20 years ago. Second, the report reviews the impact of conflict on civilians in several country situations while emphasising the continued relevance of the protection agenda in an era marked by asymmetric warfare and a proliferation of non-state armed groups. Third, it focuses on the central challenge of enhancing respect for the law during the conduct of hostilities. Fourth, the report discusses how the Council and the wider UN membership can strengthen efforts to protect civilians in today’s conflicts. The Secretary-General provides ten recommendations on how to do this.  For the Council, these include, inter-alia, addressing protection concerns in a “systematic, comprehensive and consistent” manner; calling for measures to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons; and proactively “seeking accountability where progress at the national level is unreasonably slow or non-existent”. With regard to member states, and at the national level, the Secretary-General recommends actions that can be taken: developing national policy frameworks on the protection of civilians, enhancing compliance by non-State armed groups, and promoting compliance through advocacy and accountability.

Indonesia is planning to focus the debate on community engagement as a means of enhancing the protection of civilians. In a concept note circulated ahead of the open debate, Indonesia has suggested ways for Council members and others participating in the open debate to incorporate community engagement in their remarks. The concept note suggests that this debate could re-emphasise and strengthen the importance of the protection of civilians’ agenda in the Council through sharing lessons learned and experiences in promoting the implementation of protection of civilians’ issues and international humanitarian law. Member states are asked to pay particular attention to their experiences with “the involvement of local and affected communities in the design and implementation of a range of tailored, context-specific and effective protection of civilians measures; the Protection of Civilians mandates in Peacekeeping Operations; [and] the mechanisms established by member states to prevent the escalation of armed conflict within their territory.”

The concept note lists several questions that it believes could guide discussion. They include:

  • What examples or best practices can be shared regarding the implementation of the protection of civilians’ agenda at the national level?
  • What practical steps can be taken to promote and strengthen the implementation of the protection of civilians’ agenda?
  • What can Council members do to ensure sufficient coordination across its main working groups and subsidiary bodies on protection-related issues?
  • What good practices and examples can be shared to promote and strengthen the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of protection of civilians’ measures and mandates?
  • What measures can parties to conflict, the UN and non-governmental organisations adopt to support the promotion and strengthening of the protection of civilians’ agenda and to support the engagement with local communities in the design and implementation of measures towards their own protection?

Indonesia has chosen not to have a formal outcome from this debate, and it seems that this approach was agreeable to most Council members.  It will, however, create a chair’s summary to record the main themes highlighted in the discussion. Since this year marks 20 years since the Council first began discussing this issue, the chair’s summary could be a useful stock-taking tool.

The protection of health care in armed conflict and the link between armed conflict and food insecurity will likely be discussed in the open debate. On 3 May 2016, the Council adopted resolution 2286, which strongly condemned attacks on hospitals and health care workers, and on 24 May 2018, it adopted resolution 2417 which strongly condemned the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, as well as the unlawful denial of humanitarian access. The open debate provides Guterres with an opportunity to update member states on the matters raised in these resolutions, as they both request the Secretary-General to brief the Council on their implementation every twelve months. The protection of medical care in armed conflict was the subject of an open Arria-formula, organised by then-Council member Sweden, in partnership with Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany, and Peru on 20 December 2018.

Another important issue that may be addressed in the meeting is the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities. On 3 December 2018, Poland, in partnership with Côte d’Ivoire, Germany, Kuwait and Peru, and with the cooperation of OHCHR, UNICEF, and the International Disability Alliance, convened an open Arria-formula meeting on this issue.

Member states may also decide to emphasise how protection can be enhanced in country-specific cases with respect to compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. Other topics could also include the increased number of attacks on religious sites and the use of explosive weapons and their uneven impact on civilians.

Given that it is the 20th anniversary of the first protection of civilians meeting in the Council, held by Canada during its presidency of the Council in 1999, speakers may take stock of developments on this issue over the past two decades, underscoring that more needs to be done to translate advances at the normative level into effective country-specific strategies.

In addition to the open debate, there are several protection of civilians side events taking place throughout the UN this week, similar to last year, when the protection of civilians open debate was held during Poland’s May 2018 Council presidency. These events focus on the “successes, challenges, and new frontiers” of protecting civilians in UN peacekeeping, the implementation of resolution 2417 on the link between armed conflict and food insecurity, the protection of journalists, and the G5 Sahel Human Rights Compliance Framework, among other issues.

posted on TUE 21 MAY 2019
UN Assistance Mission in Iraq: Mandate Renewal and Briefing and Consultations

This afternoon (21 May), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 May 2020. This will be followed by a briefing and consultations on UNAMI... Read more »

posted on MON 20 MAY 2019
Libya: Briefing and Consultations on UNSMIL and Libya Sanctions

Tomorrow (21 May), the Security Council will hold a briefing and consultations on the situation in Libya. Ghassan Salamé, the Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany, Ambassador Jürgen... Read more »

posted on MON 20 MAY 2019
Possible Ukraine Briefing*

This afternoon (20 May), the Security Council may hold a meeting on Ukraine. Russia requested the meeting last Friday (17 May), to raise concerns with the recently enacted Ukrainian language law that it claims runs counter to the spirit of... Read more »

posted on WED 15 MAY 2019
Briefing on the Group of Five for the Sahel Joint Force

Tomorrow (16 May), the Council will hold a briefing on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel, which the group—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger (G5 Sahel)—decided to establish in February 2017 to combat terrorist... Read more »

posted on TUE 14 MAY 2019
Yemen Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow (15 May), the Security Council will hold a briefing on Yemen. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, and Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), as the chair of the 2140 Sanctions Committee, are... Read more »

posted on MON 13 MAY 2019
UN Interim Security Force for Abyei Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow (14 May), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 November 2019. An initial draft was circulated to Council members by the US, the... Read more »

posted on FRI 10 MAY 2019
Arria-formula Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Cameroon

On Monday (13 May), Security Council members will hold an Arria-formula meeting on “the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon”, organised by the Dominican Republic, Germany, the UK and the US. Panellists will be Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, Secretary-General of... Read more »

posted on THU 9 MAY 2019
Syria: Consultations on the Humanitarian Situation in Idlib

Tomorrow (10 May), at the request of the humanitarian penholders on Syria (Belgium, Germany and Kuwait), Security Council members will discuss the humanitarian impact of the recent escalation of hostilities in Idlib in consultations. OCHA’s Director of Operations and Advocacy,... Read more »

posted on WED 8 MAY 2019
Arria-formula Meeting on “Israeli Settlements and Settlers: Core of the Occupation, Protection Crisis and Obstruction of Peace”

On 9 May, at the initiative of the Permanent Missions to the UN of Indonesia, Kuwait, and South Africa, there will be an Arria-formula meeting on Israel’s construction of settlements, entitled “Israeli Settlements and Settlers: Core of the Occupation, Protection... Read more »

posted on MON 6 MAY 2019
Peacekeeping: Open Debate and Presidential Statement on Training and Capacity Building

Tomorrow (7 May), the Security Council will hold an open debate on “Investing in Peace: Delivering Quality Training and Capacity Building to Improve Safety and Security and Performance of UN Peacekeepers”. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will chair the meeting.... Read more »

posted on THU 2 MAY 2019
In Hindsight: Negotiations on Resolution 2467 on Sexual Violence in Conflict

On 23 April, Germany convened a high-level open debate on sexual violence in conflict, a key event of its April presidency (S/PV.8514). Resolution 2467 was adopted, following difficult negotiations that only concluded during the debate. When the resolution passed with... Read more »

posted on THU 2 MAY 2019
Security Council Retreat with the Secretary-General

The Security Council will hold its annual retreat with the Secretary-General starting this evening (2 May) and continuing throughout the day tomorrow (3 May) at the Greentree Estate on Long Island. The Secretary-General and senior UN Secretariat staff will meet... Read more »

posted on WED 1 MAY 2019
Security Council Programme of Work for May

Indonesia holds the Security Council presidency in May. It is planning to convene two open debates during the month: one on peacekeeping operations and a second on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.  The debate on peacekeeping is expected... Read more »

posted on MON 29 APR 2019
UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) Mandate Renewal*

On Tuesday (30 April), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for an additional six months until 31 October. The US, as penholder,... Read more »