5208th Meeting (AM)
In Briefing, Humanitarian Affairs Head Describes Protection Crisis, Says Efforts to Bring Perpetrators to Account ‘Glaringly Inadequate’
The Security Council today reaffirmed its strong condemnation of the deliberate targeting of civilians in armed conflict, and called on all parties to put an end to such practices.
In a statement read out by its President, Michel Duclos (France), the Council expressed, in particular, its deep concern at the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and called on all States to put an end to impunity in that regard.
The Council also stressed, in particular, the urgent need for providing better physical protection for displaced populations and other vulnerable groups, particularly women and children.
In addition, the Council considered that contributing to the establishment of a secure environment for all vulnerable populations should be a key objective of peacekeeping operations. Accordingly, it invited the Secretary-General to include in his next report recommendations on ways to better address the persisting and emerging protection challenges in the evolving peacekeeping environment.
Briefing the Council this morning, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said that not enough progress, in today’s fast-changing environment, had been made to keep pace with the challenges that civilians faced in conflict situations. The disturbing rise in sectarian violence in Iraq, with almost daily, deadly suicide bombing attacks in May and June, starkly illustrated the extreme vulnerability of civilians caught in crossfire or targeted in direct terrorist attacks. The number of media reported civilian deaths for the first quarter of this year were double that of last year.
Brutal and indiscriminate tactics of terror continued to be deliberately employed in the world’s most protracted protection crises, where violence had become deeply entrenched, he said. Continuing hostilities, the unchallenged use of sexual violence, the recruitment of children, and continuing attacks against the United Nations and humanitarian agencies constituted an intractable protection crisis, which had demanded more robust peacekeeping.
To better protect civilians, he cited the need to fight impunity by supporting the International Criminal Court and strengthening national judicial systems, including the protection of civilians in all peacekeeping mandates; strengthening engagement with regional and intergovernmental organizations; and improving humanitarian funding. Tackling impunity lay at the heart of protection concerns, he emphasized, saying, “As yet, our collective efforts to bring perpetrators of violence against civilians to account have been glaringly inadequate.”
During the discussion, the United Kingdom representative drew attention to major protection gaps, including in physical protection for humanitarian convoys, internally displaced persons camps and for areas of unrest to prevent displacement. There was a need to ensure that those enlisted to provide protection had the capacity and expertise to do so. The second gap was in responses to sexual and gender-based violence, and the fact that such crimes were often committed with total impunity. The third gap was in conventional arms exports. While there were already treaties and mechanisms to curb the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the proliferation of conventional arms -– which accounted for so much misery and destruction across the world -– was yet to be tackled head-on.
Japan’s representative agreed, noting that the problem of small arms and light weapons continued to be alarming. The widespread use of small arms not only resulted in a large number of casualties, but also gave rise to other problems such as the use of child soldiers and the disruption of recovery and development in post-conflict situations. In an effort to tackle that problem, Japan had been active in assisting the implementation of projects to collect and destroy surplus small arms and light weapons on the ground.
Emphasizing the need to strengthen the legal framework for the protection of humanitarian personnel, the representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that, in addition to condemning attacks against those who perpetrated violence against aid workers, the Council could take concrete action by encouraging the General Assembly to rapidly reach a conclusion on the expansion of the scope of the 1994 Convention for the Protection of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and remove the “exceptional risk” requirement, so that it could cover all United Nations and other associated staff whose work, by its very nature, rendered them vulnerable to attack. “Every day that we deliberate on the scope of a new legal instrument puts them at further risk”, he said.
A number of speakers stressed the need for more reliable and predictable resources to assist people in need, noting that the current level of funding did not match the requirements. The lack of support for the forgotten emergencies was an issue that must be properly addressed, stated Brazil’s representative. There was a need to ensure that humanitarian assistance was provided in a non-discriminatory, balanced and proportionate manner. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, for instance, remained continuously under-financed. Funding was also needed to support the strengthening of institutions of the rule of law, national reconciliation processes and similar efforts to reduce the risk of relapse into conflict and to save civilian lives in war-torn countries.
Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Algeria, United Republic of Tanzania, Benin, United States, Russian Federation, Philippines, China, Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Romania, France, Peru, Colombia, Egypt, Luxembourg (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Nigeria, Norway and Cote d’Ivoire.
The meeting, which began at 10:20 a.m., adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2005/25, reads as follows:
“The Security Council, recalling its resolutions 1265 (1999) and 1296 (2000), as well as statements made by its presidents on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, reiterates its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on civilian populations.
“The Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the deliberate targeting of civilians or other protected persons in situations of armed conflict, and calls upon all parties to put an end to such practices. It expresses in particular its deep concerns at the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. It calls upon all States to put an end to impunity also in this regard.
“The Council is gravely concerned about limited progress on the ground to ensure the effective protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict. It stresses in particular the urgent need for providing better physical protection for displaced populations, as well as for other vulnerable groups, in particular women and children. Efforts should be focused in areas where these populations and groups are most at risk. At the same time, it considers that contributing to the establishment of a secure environment for all vulnerable populations should be a key objective of peacekeeping operations.
“The Council invites, accordingly, the Secretary-General to include in his next report recommendations on ways to better address the persisting and emerging protection challenges in the evolving peacekeeping environment. Upon receipt of this report, it expresses its intention to take further action to strengthen and enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflict including, if necessary, a possible resolution in this regard.”
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
JAN EGELAND, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that not enough progress, in today’s fast-changing environment, had been made to keep pace with the challenges that civilians faced in conflict situations. The disturbing rise in sectarian violence in Iraq, with almost daily, deadly suicide bombing attacks in May and June, starkly illustrated the extreme vulnerability of civilians caught in crossfire or targeted in direct terrorist attacks. The number of media reported civilian deaths for the first quarter of this year were double that of last year. As many as 1,000 civilians might have been killed since April.
Brutal and indiscriminate tactics of terror continued to be deliberately employed in the world’s most protracted protection crises, where violence had become deeply entrenched, he said. Continuing hostilities in Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the unchallenged use of sexual violence, recruitment of children by the Mayi-Mayi, and continuing attacks against the United Nations and humanitarian agencies constituted an intractable protection crisis, which had demanded more robust peacekeeping. He was alarmed by deepening xenophobia in western Côte d’Ivoire, incited by hate propaganda which fuelled increasing violence.
While the number of large-scale attacks on civilians in the Sudan had decreased, he noted, grave protection concerns persisted. Continued attacks on civilians, an absence of commitment from the Sudanese Government to protect its civilians, and limited capacity on the ground compounded the challenge of protection in Darfur. “Imagine the quality of life for those that are caught in these cycles of violence living in constant terror. This has an enduring impact on individuals and tears the very fabric of society. Such endemic violence cannot continue. We have a responsibility to find better solutions to these intractable situations.”
Maoist insurgency and stringent government response had led to a rapid deterioration of the situation in Nepal, he said, plunging the country into deep crisis. According to Government sources, 659 civilians had been killed in the last six months and summary executions, extrajudicial killings, and illegal detentions and disappearances had significantly increased. Prompt action was essential to prevent that emergent protection crisis from becoming entrenched. He welcomed the increased human rights monitoring undertaken by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
He recalled that he had previously presented a 10-point plan as a means to accelerate action. The plan remained valid today. He wished to highlight some key areas where the need to take action was particularly urgent to ensure better protection for civilians trapped in conflict. His first concern was the frequency and scale of deliberate displacement both within and across borders. Up to 90 per cent of the entire population in the districts of Gulu, Pader and Kitgum in northern Uganda now lived in camps. In Darfur, attacks against villages continued and displacement was still a tactic of war. Continuous attacks on civilians in Colombia contributed to displacement of an estimated 700 people a day in recent months.
More must be done to prevent and end displacement as quickly as possible, he said. Better physical security must be provided. A humanitarian presence was not enough. The creation of a secure environment for displaced populations should be a primary objective of peacekeeping operations. Also needed was strategic deployment around camps to provide area security for the displaced, in areas of unrest to prevent new displacement, and in areas of origin to facilitate voluntary and safe return. Both peacekeeping missions and regional organizations had an important role to play. The African Union, in Darfur, provided a prime example of the positive impact even a relatively small security presence could bring. The provision of protection against violence needed to be incorporated into the concept of peacekeeping operations and clear guidance developed.
The needs of displaced people must also be met in a more sustainable manner, he said. Under the leadership of the Secretary-General’s reform process, a series of steps would be proposed to provide greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian agencies to ensure more effective and accountable action on behalf of the displaced. There must be better recognition of the status and needs of those who were displaced, requiring greater awareness of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
He said the recurrent brutal use of sexual violence was arguably one of the worst global protection challenges due to its scale, prevalence and profound impact. Often ostracized by their communities, survivors had to battle with the physical injuries, trauma and stigma of such violence for the rest of their lives. Although repeatedly condemned, such violence persisted virtually unchallenged. Two situations where sexual violence was at its worst were in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Darfur. Efforts to bring such atrocities to a halt must be redoubled. The International Criminal Court would have a significant impact, once it demonstrated that such crimes would not go unpunished.
However, he continued, the endemic nature of the problem would only be effectively addressed through the restoration of effective national judicial systems and a political commitment at the local level to bring perpetrators to account. Peacekeeping operations also made a difference. Sexual violence was used as a weapon of war and demanded an immediate response through the provision of more effective protection from violence in areas where women and children were most at risk.
Child abductions, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the denial of access to vital services had a profound impact on children, he stated. Children continued to be appallingly exploited and abused in conflict situations. Recruitment of child soldiers had risen once again in northern Uganda, and the re-recruitment of former child combatants in Liberia was fuelling ongoing conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, pointing to a basic failure of reintegration efforts. Without adequate protection, children were at risk of recruitment, trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse. More effective approaches to protect children affected by conflict must be developed.
A first point of strengthened action was to provide more effective community-based reintegration support that facilitated the return of all children to normal civilian life. Special provision must be made for former child combatants, child mothers, abductees and all other children associated with armed groups to break cycles of violence and stop situations of exploitation and abuse. The reintegration needs of children must also be more explicitly addressed in the peace process. The needs of children demanded that the delivery of basic services, especially education, be placed at the heart of reintegration efforts.
Humanitarian access and the interrelated issue of safety and security of humanitarian personnel continued to be prominent concerns, he said. Blatant attacks on humanitarian staff continued to jeopardize the ability to operate in areas where humanitarian assistance was most needed. Since his briefing in December, 13 humanitarian staff had been killed and kidnapped in multiple incidents targeting international agencies in Afghanistan. Similarly, at least five humanitarian staff had been killed and scores detained in Darfur. Stronger action must be taken for their safety. The entire delivery of relief services to millions in need was at stake. A key objective of peacekeeping missions should be the creation of secure environments to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, safeguard humanitarian staff and protect essential services.
Tackling impunity lay at the heart of protection concerns, he stated. “As yet, our collective efforts to bring perpetrators of violence against civilians to account have been glaringly inadequate.” The International Criminal Court (ICC), however, promised to usher in a new era of greater accountability, and he applauded the Security Council for supporting that important endeavour. It was important that the proceedings of the ICC created greater awareness among all warring factions of their respective culpability and that they were not beyond the law. At the same time, it was important to remain aware of the potential impact of such legal action on humanitarian operations, including the potential of reprisals against humanitarian staff.
For real progress to be made, he continued, impunity must also be tackled at the local level. The ICC would never obviate the need for local justice. It was critical that efforts be made to support national capacity to protect through local law enforcement and judicial systems and security sector reform. Also, the capacity to support the establishment of the rule of law and local judicial structures needed to be developed in a more systematic and sustainable manner across the United Nations system.
He said it was essential to define the protection responsibilities of peacekeeping operations and develop appropriate guidance and doctrine to support that role. Similarly, it was important that regional and intergovernmental organizations engage more proactively as protection partners, and develop common approaches and incorporate internationally agreed standards in their operations. His office had developed a work plan which sought to support regional organizations in taking that forward, which would be presented at the forthcoming sixth high-level meeting between the Secretary-General and regional and other intergovernmental organizations, at which the protection of civilians in armed conflict would be a key agenda item.
If humanitarian appeals received more predictable funding, he said, action would immediately be strengthened for the vulnerable and peace and security advanced in many local communities. “We still are badly under-funded in some of the worst protection crises”, he said. Earlier this month, he sent a list of the most under-funded emergencies and protection crises in Africa to the G-8 countries in preparation for their summit and asked for their leadership and support. He would do the same with the European Union.
Humanitarian action alone could not resolve protection challenges, he said. What was needed was a holistic response that brought the political, security and humanitarian agendas together. It must be ensured that one aspect of support was not at the expense of another. If regional organizations were to take on more prominent roles in providing regional security, they must be appropriately resourced. Similarly, if States were to properly fulfil their responsibilities, they must be appropriately supported by the international community.
In addition, he continued, it was necessary to develop more systematic reporting to the Security Council, to facilitate its deliberations and ensure protection concerns were more fully reflected in its proceedings. Under the guidance of the Executive Committee of Humanitarian Affairs, efforts were focused on establishing criteria and indicators, not to create extensive lists of violations but to generate current overviews and trend analysis to better inform the Council and strengthen decision-making and response at the field level. The reporting mechanism would focus on several areas of concern, including general protection violations, humanitarian access, and protection of women and children. Work to advance that initiative would now focus on developing appropriate methodologies for garnering that information.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), while welcoming the briefing, expressed regret that the situation of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation had been passed over in silence. Much remained to be done, and recent events were unsettling and disturbing as women and children continued to suffer the devastating effects of armed conflict.
He said that a comprehensive strategy of prevention, including the identification of the root causes of conflict, should also encompass measures to eradicate poverty, democracy, good governance, as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law. Impartiality and non-selectivity must be observed, including in cases of occupation by foreign Powers. It should not be left entirely up to the occupying Power to provide its perspectives on the situation.
Appropriate steps were required against humanitarian personnel who violated the human rights of those they were supposed to help and protect, he said. The Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a Peacebuilding Commission would be useful, provided that its actions were not locked into a sequential order. It was to be hoped that the Secretary-General’s next report would provide added value to the Council’s work in the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
TUVAKO MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said the international community had both a moral and legal responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from violent conflicts that killed innocent civilians and left many permanently displaced. The problem had remained acute in Africa, especially in such nations as the Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and where there was now a strong desire throughout the continent to prevent the emergence, spread and re-emergence of conflicts. In protecting civilians from conflicts and upholding their human rights, he underscored the importance of good governance, as well as effective regulatory and protective mechanisms. The existing regime offering physical protection to displaced civilians left much to be desired.
Calling for a review of the 1951 Refugee Convention, he said that instrument failed to address today’s realities. Developed during an era of limited refugee numbers, it required receiving States to grant refugee status on the basis of individual applications -- a requirement that was now outdated. With massive influxes of refugees now fleeing from conflicts, his and other countries had been forced to grant refugee status “en masse” due to overburdened administrations. As funds for humanitarian emergencies dwindled, the burden and environmental cost of such influxes for hosting countries had become far greater. Shelter should be provided in countries generating refugees by setting up “safe havens”, which would not only eliminate the existing contradiction between “internally displaced persons” and “refugees”, but would allow refugees of all categories to obtain the same range of human rights protection without discrimination.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said humanitarian access continued to be denied or obstructed, noting that his country had repeatedly expressed its concern over that situation. While it was well known that States had the primary responsibility in the delivery of assistance to their populations, if they were unable to do so, they must ensure the safe and unhindered access of international humanitarian personnel to those in need. It was highly deplorable that humanitarian workers had become victims of deliberate violence.
He said that vulnerable groups, such as women and children, especially among refugees and internally displaced persons, should be better protected. All efforts should be made to stop the deplorable and indiscriminate use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and prosecuted. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS brought an additional dimension to situations of mass displacement and human rights abuses. Efforts to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees and internally displaced persons must be increased, and Brazil welcomed the fact that an increasing number of countries were making use of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
The promotion of compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law was an imperative, he stressed. Progress had been made in the fight against impunity with the establishment of international tribunals, particularly the International Criminal Court, bearing in mind that States had the main responsibility to exercise their criminal jurisdiction and bring perpetrators to justice. The Rome Statute provided that the Council may refer to the ICC cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Regarding the Darfur case, while Brazil supported the referral to the Court, as one of its founding members, Brazil could not support provisions that imposed limits to its universal jurisdiction. The Court’s integrity must not be compromised.
Agreeing that there was a need for more reliable and predictable resources to assist people in need, including civilians caught in crossfire, he said the current level of funding did not match the requirements. The lack of support for the forgotten emergencies was an issue that must be properly addressed. There was a need to ensure that humanitarian assistance was provided in a non-discriminatory, balanced and proportionate manner. Peacekeeping operations must be given adequate resources for the protection of civilians. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, for instance, remained continuously under-financed. Funding was also needed to support the strengthening of institutions of the rule of law, national reconciliation processes and similar efforts to reduce the risk of relapse into conflict and to save civilian lives in war-torn countries.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said that, in recent years, the international community had seen the constant erosion of respect for the norms embodied in humanitarian law. In some areas, random violence on civilians had become common currency. The atrocities which civilians suffered were totally unacceptable, whether they were the actions of government troops, armed rebels or terrorist movements. Also, it was often the case that grave violations stemmed from uncontrolled action motivated by ethnic hatred. The phenomenon of random violence affected the most vulnerable sectors, such as women, children, the elderly and humanitarian personnel providing relief. He condemned such violence. In addition, violence engaged in deliberately by United Nations personnel and sexual exploitation and abuse must also be condemned. The specific situations described by the Under-Secretary-General enabled Member States to gauge the gravity of the assaults on human dignity.
Benin, he said, was the host of many Togolese refugees and had appealed for international assistance. Thus far, there had been no significant response to that appeal. He recalled the primary obligation borne by parties to conflict to provide civilians with the protection required under international law. It was crucial to have immediate and secure humanitarian access in order to provide assistance. The international community should include among crimes against humanity the actions of persons hampering in any way access, to humanitarian assistance. The International Criminal Court should prosecute persons committing such acts. At the same time, humanitarian agencies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), needed to act in close cooperation with others concerned to set up an early warning network for critical situations requiring immediate action.
He supported the proposal to include the protection of civilians in the mandate of peacekeeping operations. An integrated and coherent approach among all actors was vital. An effective conflict-prevention strategy was another key element in protecting civilians, including the designing of a long-term strategy to tackle the causes of conflict.
GERALD SCOTT (United States) said the world continued to be plagued by armed conflicts in which civilians now formed the greatest segment of casualties. However, the primary responsibility to protect civilians in armed conflict lay with States and their governments. Improving that protection depended largely not on what was said and done in the Security Council, but on what those governments did and the extent they allowed others who wished to do so to assist.
Turning to the situation in Darfur, he noted that, despite the fact that the violence had diminished, civilians continued to be directly targeted and more than 2 million people remained displaced. The continuing instability in Darfur had a direct and continuing impact on the ability of the international community to provide assistance, since internally displaced persons living in camps could still become victims of armed attack. Regarding the regional dimension, the United States was encouraged that the issue was being addressed more effectively. And with respect to the recruitment and use of children and the safety of United Nations and associated humanitarian personnel, words and intentions must be turned into actions.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, noted that, despite significant gains in the evolution of international humanitarian and human rights law, and despite the best efforts of national governments, civil society and international organizations, today’s briefing provided a stark reminder of the collective failure to protect civilians in situations of armed conflict. The issues were highly complex and challenging, encompassing a wide range of conflict prevention and resolution, as well as peacebuilding issues, including the re-establishment of justice and the rule of law, social reconciliation, political mediation and economic development.
Drawing attention to four key protection gaps, he said that the first was in physical protection for humanitarian convoys, internally displaced persons camps, and for areas of unrest to prevent displacement. While Security Council peacekeeping mandates had come a long way in incorporating protection concerns, there was a need to take a step further, especially in terms of civilian policing, and to ensure that those enlisted to provide protection had the capacity and expertise to do so. The second gap had been in responses to sexual and gender-based violence, and the fact that such crimes were often committed with total impunity. They were neither investigated nor those responsible prosecuted. It was particularly important to sustain effective national legal and judicial systems.
He said that the third gap was in conventional arms exports. There were already treaties and mechanisms to curb the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, but the proliferation of conventional arms -– which accounted for so much misery and destruction across the world -– was yet to be tackled head-on. The British Government was committed to working with the others to secure a legally binding treaty on the international trade in conventional arms, building upon the United Nations Programme of Action of Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as the United Kingdom’s own Transfer Controls Initiative. The fourth gap was in the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. There could be no justification for deliberately targeting them or abducting, and the United Kingdom condemned such acts in the strongest terms.
Returning to the collective failure to protect civilians in armed conflict, he emphasized that the international community had a collective responsibility to protect. In light of the Under-Secretary-General’s catalogue of human rights violations, the international community must ask itself whether they were to be passively tolerated. It was to be hoped that it would be possible to reach agreement on the concept of the collective responsibility to protect at the Millennium Review Summit. In the words of the Secretary-General’s report, “In Larger Freedom”, declared principles and common interests demanded no less.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said he wanted to focus on three areas to which his Government attached particular importance, especially from the viewpoint of the concept of human security that Japan was promoting in the international community. First, he was deeply concerned over several recent instances in which armed groups deliberately used displacement as a means to exploit civilian populations. Such acts were unacceptable and must be condemned. They were a reminder once again that renewed efforts should be made to call the attention of the international community, and countries concerned in particular, to upholding the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as the basic norm for the protection of civilian populations.
When internal displacement occurred in armed conflict and national authorities were unable or unwilling to protect and assist, displaced persons should be given protection and assistance by the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations, and, where appropriate, by peacekeepers. The cooperation of regional organizations should also be sought. In such international assistance efforts, questions sometimes arose between peacekeepers with a robust mandate to protect civilians, on the one hand, and humanitarian workers who uphold neutrality, on the other. “Form must follow function”, or the desired function should determine the mission structure, in that regard.
Second, he strongly denounced the widespread sexual exploitation and abuse committed in situations of armed conflict, whether by civilian or military personnel. He welcomed the report of Prince Zeid of Jordan on that issue and the robust measures agreed on in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. They need to be implemented and translated into action expeditiously.
Third, he said the problem of small arms and light weapons continued to be alarming. The widespread use of small arms not only resulted in a large number of casualties, but also gave rise to other problems such as the use of child soldiers and the disruption of recovery and development in post-conflict situations. In an effort to tackle that problem, Japan had been actively contributing to raising awareness and promoting normative discussion by sponsoring resolutions in the General Assembly. It had also been active in helping the implementation of projects to collect and destroy surplus small arms and light weapons on the ground.
ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said it was clear that dealing with the problem of civilian protection required systematic and coordinated action at the national, regional and international levels, particularly in such conflict situations as those in the Sudan, Burundi and Haiti, which was far from an exhaustive list. There was a need to end impunity and bring to justice all perpetrators of human rights violations. The Council must continue to make use of the regional and country approach, taking into account the historical, economic, social and cultural factors, as well as the specific features of each individual conflict. The African Union Monitoring Mission in Darfur was doing a good job and must be strengthened.
He said that most conflicts had previously been seen in the light of human rights and of monitoring the violations. Such work must be based on the United Nations Charter and humanitarian principles. There was a growing role for the Economic and Social Council as the United Nations body responsible for coordinating the Organization’s humanitarian efforts. There was a need to strengthen coordination, particularly in missions that had political, military, and humanitarian components. A separate and important issue was the protection of children both during and after conflicts, and the work of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was vital in that regard. Work was under way on a new Security Council resolution on children in armed conflict, which sought to incorporate an accountability mechanism. Work was also continuing to find a means of dealing with issues that were not on the Council’s agenda.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that challenges remained in three areas: synergizing the roles and efforts of all actors; improving the quality and reach of interventions; and ensuring the sustainability of efforts and gains on the ground. He agreed that a culture of protection of civilians needed to be firmly ingrained. However, it was necessary to have a common view and a collective understanding of how that concept would appropriately and effectively address the needs of civilians in any given conflict situation. Interventions to protect civilians should address the particularities of various situations, taking into account the capacities within governments and the necessary political will to resolve the problem.
Protecting civilians was never an easy job for any government, international organization or civil group, he said. Accession to the relevant treaties on protection of civilians would enable stakeholders to cooperate and help each other fulfil the obligations in those treaties. Stakeholders must take advantage of each other’s competencies and expertise, which would make the protection regime more effective and realizable.
The responsibility to protect should be complemented by a “responsibility to prevent” conflict, he said. The Council must be alert to impending threats to the security and lives of innocent people. Mechanisms for early warning, preventive deployments and diplomatic initiatives should be strengthened. The root causes of conflict demanded a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach so that the Council should enhance its coordination with other organs, particularly the General Assembly and the human rights mechanisms to utilize their respective mandates and strengths. Bringing onboard more States and stakeholders in shaping and carrying out the decisions on protection of civilians would ensure better chances of success in the implementation of plans and strategies.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that in recent years the question of civilian protection had attracted the attention of the international community. Women and children had always been the biggest victims in armed conflicts, and the Council had always considered the various situations and adopted the appropriate resolutions and presidential statements. However, tens of thousands of civilians in conflict situations found it increasingly difficult to fulfil their basic needs such as food and water.
In some conflict situations, conditions continued to deteriorate as innocent civilians continued to suffer attacks, he said. The primary responsibility to protect and assist them lay with the governments concerned. They and other parties to the particular conflict should comply strictly with international humanitarian law and the correspondent responsibility to protect civilians. Peace agreements must incorporate articles relating to civilians protection. On the other hand, humanitarian groups must adhere to their mandates and avoid taking sides with any of the parties to the conflicts. In addition, the Council must continue to take effective measures to strengthen preventive diplomacy.
Mandatory means could only further complicate conflict situations and jeopardize more innocent civilians, he said. The international community must help the Council to formulate solutions to conflicts in various regions on a case-by-case basis, and the universal use of one particular method should be avoided. It was difficult to use a single programme or mechanism to deal with the many instances where civilian protection was required. There was also a need to take sufficient care regarding situations that were still outside the Council’s agenda.
MARTIN GARCIA MORITAN (Argentina) noted that the protection of civilians during armed conflicts had been the subject of Council resolutions and presidential statements for several years, but that little progress had been made. Considerations of national security should not override the primary obligation of States to abide by international humanitarian law, and the international community should not remain indifferent to atrocities committed against civilians. Emphasizing that attacks against civilians and systematic violations to international humanitarian and human rights laws threatened international peace and security, he said the international community must consider the matter and make the appropriate response.
Considering current violence against civil populations, the physical protection of refugees and internationally displaced, as well as women, children and vulnerable groups, must be improved, he said. Peacekeeping operations created by the Council should work to establish a secure environment for vulnerable populations in situations of armed conflict. The Secretary-General should include recommendations on the issue in his report at the end of 2005, with a view to adopting a new resolution on protecting civilians in armed conflict.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark) said that his country fully subscribed to the 10-point platform of action developed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. All points were equally important and mutually reinforcing, but he believed particular attention should be given to issues relating to impunity, sexual violence, and the protection needs of women and children in armed conflict. It was now time to go beyond merely recognizing the scale of difficulties and complexities of protecting civilians. With the 10 points as stepping stones, it was necessary to develop tools that would translate commitment into improvements on the ground. He looked forward to the recommendations to be provided by the Secretary-General in November on ways the Council and other United Nations organs could improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Second, he said the Council was already working with a host of themes relevant to the protection of civilians. There was hardly one area on the Council’s agenda that did not relate in one way or the other to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. It was necessary to strive to work more coherently with those themes. The expected establishment of a peacebuilding commission would mark a new beginning for a comprehensive approach to countries emerging from conflict. In the post-conflict phase, the commission would provide a forum for coordination of, among other things, humanitarian issues. The 10-point platform and the mechanisms to implement it would, hopefully, provide a useful tool for the commission and for a more targeted effort in the field.
Third, he said women were a major resource in all phases of conflict and crises that must be made better use of. As recognized in resolution 1325 (2000), the full participation of women in peace processes significantly contributed to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. But women were often regarded solely as victims of conflict. If they were not included in the decision-making process relating to all phases of conflict, a major opportunity would be missed to ensure lasting and sustainable solutions.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said that the protection of civilians in armed conflicts was a matter that fell under the responsibilities of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security. The Council, by adopting resolution 1593 (2005) and referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, had taken a proactive attitude towards the ending of impunity for the war crimes committed in the Sudan. That development had been a first step in preventing a culture of impunity and would help consolidate peace, security and justice.
Another important aspect of civilian protection was the question of humanitarian access to those in need, and the removal of obstacles that prevented humanitarian workers from delivering assistance and protection, he said. The security of humanitarian workers was another issue that raised serious concerns. The deliberate attacks and threats against unarmed personnel had, on many occasions, obstructed the work of humanitarian operations around the world, with serious effects on the delivery of assistance and the protection of the victims of armed conflicts.
The protection of women and children was a major concern, he said, adding that, despite condemnations by national governments, indiscriminate sexual violence as a weapon of war persisted, while the perpetrators went unpunished. The forcible recruitment of children and child abduction, in gross violation of international humanitarian law, continued to be a major problem. It was to be hoped that the Council would soon adopt a resolution prepared by Benin to enhance the protection of children in armed conflicts
Emphasizing the urgent need for effective protection measures, he expressed his country’s support for the measures proposed by Mr. Egeland, as well as the
10-point platform for the protection of civilians that he had presented to the Council in 2003. Greece urged its early implementation. Regional organizations could play a very important role in that respect, particularly in the case of the African Union in Darfur. Greece subscribed fully to the call for an urgent increase of the capacity of the African Union on the ground in that crisis. Greece stressed also the need for the Council to take a more proactive stance in the field of civilian protection and to adopt in the near future a new resolution that would focus on the major challenges with a view to enhancing protection and revitalizing the Council’s role in that crucial area.
MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) said it was a disturbing reality that, despite the efforts of the international community, in many parts of the world a great number of civilians were still targeted by combatants at various stages of conflicts. The Council needed to put even more emphasis in its work on that topic by adjusting the ways of addressing it. Civilians were no longer incidental victims of conflicts, but had become targets, and tools, of warfare, particularly women and children. Also, United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers had become direct targets. The acknowledgement of new threats to civilians had to be followed by proper solutions to protect them. The first priority was to strengthen the legal framework and to ensure its proper implementation. The Council must appeal to the parties to comply fully with the provisions of the United Nations Charter and international law.
Further, he continued, it was imperative for States to live up to their commitments and curb impunity by prosecuting those responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. There was a need to protect certain segments of society that were particularly targeted and to devise strategies to protect them. Also security and freedom of movement for the humanitarian community must be guaranteed. Prevention was always more effective than protection. It was necessary to address the root causes of conflict in a comprehensive manner. The establishment of democratic institutions and respect for human rights and the rule of law were conditions for the sustainable development of societies emerging from armed conflict. It was essential to improve and upgrade the capability of the United Nations to respond to the consequences of conflict, he added.
Council President JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), speaking in his national capacity and associating himself with the European Union, said the Council must ensure there was a correspondence between the mandate to protect and assigned to peacekeeping operations and the resources they were given to execute that mandate, especially when it came to the protection of the most vulnerable populations. There was a need to consider realistic and effective solutions that took past experiences into account, especially that of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
In the case of dire situations involving massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the principle of the responsibility to protect must apply, he said. That principle reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the States to protect civilians on their territory, so there was no interference. In the event that the State concerned failed to do so, the international community would have a duty to act, including through the Security Council.
Stressing the need to address the vicious “cultural” circle of violence, he said that a certain level of chaos and lawlessness, even those who were normally victims became executioners. That could be seen currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where sexual violence was not confined to the combatants, but in which civilians were themselves engaged. Confronted with those intolerable lapses, the fight against impunity was an absolute imperative. The recourse to article 13 of the Rome Statute constituted a decisive breakthrough in that regard. But referral to the International Criminal Court obeyed the same logic as the obligations to protect. The obligation to impose penalties, like the obligation to protect, was one of a State’s primary responsibilities and impunity must be fought first at that level.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that the right to protect implied three specific responsibilities: the responsibility to prevent the internal causes of the conflict; the responsibility of response that included coercive measures, sanctions and, in extreme cases, military intervention; and the responsibility to reconcile peoples and to rebuild the collapsed country. An important measure to fortify the responsibility of the Council to protect civilians would be that the five permanent members of the Council reach a “gentlemen’s agreement” of not using their veto on interventions to avoid crimes against humanity.
Also, to strengthen its capacity to protect civilians, the Council could introduce certain practical measures, he said. First, the Council must be able to identify the countries that were at risk of falling into crisis and possibly to identify future threats to peace that were not yet on its agenda. The Council also had to evaluate in a systematic way civilian protection measures, as well as carry out constant evaluations of national reconciliation and rebuilding processes. The Council had yet to assume efficiently the responsibility of prevention.
The “gentlemen’s agreement” and the practical measures mentioned would be worthless if the peacekeeping or peace enforcement capacity was weakened by a lack of recruiting, the deficiency of recruited troops or their tardy deployment. If the quantity and quality of troops was not improved, the United Nations would be unable to protect civilians. That was why the Council should adopt the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which called on countries with important military capacity to make available to the United Nations autonomous, highly trained and self-sufficient standby battalions.
MARIA ANGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR (Colombia), reiterating that States had the primary responsibility to ensure a safe and violence-free environment for their citizens, said that the question of civilian protection should be governed by international law and respect for its principles. A trend to include humanitarian assistance in the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations tended to jeopardize their mission.
She said that the United Nations system had tended to address the question of displaced populations in Colombia, where the illicit drug trade had given rise to many evils, including arms trafficking and the displacement of civilian populations. Colombia was the first to be interested in restoring safety and security for Colombians. It worked closely with others to achieve that goal and had made important achievements in that regard. Colombia was working to ensure that not a single person would remain displaced in the future.
Although there had been disagreement with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on some occasions, it was hoped that there would be greater agreement in the future, she said. Colombia rejected the notion that it needed to hold a dialogue with illegal armed groups in order to guarantee humanitarian access. The United Nations should focus on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes to ensure that civilians affected by the conflict in the country could continue with their lives.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said it was necessary to work collectively on two parallel fronts. First, it was important to settle armed conflicts and prevent their recurrence in an integrated manner, which included such aspects as peacebuilding and re-employment efforts. The second was to protect civilians from the consequences resulting from armed conflict. For the first time this year, Egypt had sponsored a draft resolution in the Commission on Human Rights on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, in order to foster international mechanisms to protect civilians in a framework that guaranteed the implementation by States of their obligations under international law. That resolution commanded unprecedented support in the Commission. Along the same lines, Egypt had supported efforts deployed by the Security Council on the issue.
Yet, he continued, the increase in areas of armed conflict around the world was a disturbing development, leading to an increase in the number of victims and displaced and to further acts of destruction and plundering of natural wealth and cultural heritage. The protection of civilians in armed conflict should be based on the commitment by all States to abide by the provisions of international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Despite important developments -- such as expanding the scope of United Nations peacekeeping operations to cover the protection of civilians in armed conflict and securing the delivery of humanitarian aid -- the deployment of personnel of those operations was still proceeding inconsistently. That made United Nations intervention late, at times, and inconsistent with the needs on the ground. It was necessary to reconsider how the United Nations, especially the Council, treated the concept of the civilian population, keeping them separate from military and political concerns. Regional organizations had an important role to play at all stages, especially in Africa, where the African Union had set an example to be followed. The protection of civilians in armed conflict did not cease with the end of hostilities. The destruction of socio-economic infrastructure gravely endangered the lives of civilians. Peace remained vulnerable, if it was not backed by focused development plans.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said that while small arms and light weapons took a large toll in today’s conflicts, especially in Africa, among the most brutal weapons used systematically in such places as Darfur and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were rape and sexual slavery against women and children, including refugees and internally displaced persons. The European Union condemned sexual and gender-based crimes in the strongest terms and expected that the recent referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court and the forthcoming investigation by its Prosecutor would address those crimes. A persistent climate of impunity facilitated such crimes. The case of Darfur should, therefore, serve as a signal of the international community’s determination to uphold the rule of law, to end impunity and to bring perpetrators to justice, there or elsewhere.
Welcoming the presidential statement of 31 May 2005, condemning all acts of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, he urged all European Union partners to implement swiftly and fully all recommendations adopted in the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. The European Union looked forward to the swift establishment of the group of legal experts and the conclusion of their work on the legal ramifications of some of the proposed recommendations.
Regarding the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, he said that, while they sought protection abroad or in their own countries, fleeing armed conflict or specifically targeted areas, they sometimes remained in danger at their place of refuge. Men were killed and women and girls raped. Camps themselves could be targeted and were often insufficiently protected. There was a clear need for increased and sustained physical protection in those situations and, in cases where States would not, or could not provide it, the international community must provide assistance. The European Union reiterated its call for improved humanitarian access in all areas where aid delivery was desperately needed.
The role of regional organizations must be highlighted in that regard, he said, commending the African Union for its role in the Sudan, where its monitoring mission had shown demonstrable results in terms of reducing violent crimes in the areas it patrolled. The European Union actively supported the expansion of the African Union mission in Darfur and had recently announced an extensive assistance package. While occurrences of direct and indirect targeting were increasing, civilians also continued to suffer from the indirect consequences of armed conflict, including the destruction or purposeful misuse by parties to the conflict of health or education infrastructures, such as hospitals and schools.
He recalled that during the Council’s recent open debate on peacebuilding, he had mentioned the protection of civilians as one of the many activities that must be part of any comprehensive and coherent peacebuilding strategy. While civilian protection was now included in the mandate of every peacekeeping operations, it must remain on the agenda when a given situation made the transition to a longer-term, peacebuilding phase. Five years after the adoption of resolution 1296 (2000), the international community was compelled to recognize that the situation concerning the protection of civilians in armed conflict had not greatly improved. Without prejudging the Secretary-General’s assessment in his next report at the end of the year, it seemed that there was a clear need to strengthen the protection framework of civilians in armed conflict, possibly by adopting a new resolution.
ALLAN ROCK (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the appalling and endemic use of sexual abuse and violence as a weapon of war demanded urgent attention. It was clear that a more robust and better coordinated international response was required. States affected by conflict, their justice systems and local communities must be engaged as a matter of priority to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence were brought to justice. The international community must do more to marshal and coordinate support for local-level judicial reform, capacity-building and the overall strengthening of the rule of law as a critical investment. In addition, United Nations agencies and other humanitarian, development and human rights agencies must strengthen their efforts to promote prevention of sexual exploitation and increase accountability, including within their own agencies.
As seen in recent months, he said, regional organizations could play an important role in providing timely, appropriate and effective responses to protection crises. He encouraged continued strong links between the Organization and regional organizations on civilian protection issues. The international community must make concerted efforts to build and enhance regional crisis response capacity, including through political, material and financial support, when required. Also, key elements of the civilians’ agenda had important regional dimensions, such as the abduction, recruitment and use of child soldiers, and forced displacement.
He strongly supported Mr. Egeland’s emphasis on the rights and needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and reaffirmed the responsibility of governments in the first instance to ensure the needs of IDPs on their territory were met. In that regard, the capacity of United Nations country teams and other agencies must be enhanced, so they could better respond to the protection and assistance needs of the displaced. Where they existed, peace operations could play an important role in helping to provide stability and build the confidence of the civilian populations, including the displaced. That meant that peace operations must be framed and equipped to take a holistic approach.
He added that, in addition to condemning attacks against those who perpetrated violence against aid workers, the Council could take concrete action by encouraging the Assembly to rapidly reach a conclusion on the expansion of the scope of the 1994 Convention for the Protection of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and remove the “exceptional risk” requirement, so that it could cover all United Nations and other associated staff whose work, by its very nature, rendered them vulnerable to attack. “Every day that we deliberate on the scope of a new legal instrument puts them at further risk”, he said.
SIMEON A. ADEKANYE (Nigeria) said civilians continued to pay a heavy toll in the various conflict situations around the world. All too often, civilians were subject to various human rights abuses, including denial of access to medical care and humanitarian assistance. Many of the conflicts today occurred in Africa and were located within States, adversely affecting the social, cultural and economic lives of millions of people. The situation was even more critical, and the challenge more daunting, in countries faced with HIV/AIDS. The way forward was for States to adopt, ratify or codify into national law the various conventions and protocols on armed conflict. Where required, national governments should be given international support and assistance to strengthen their judicial and security mechanisms, as it would enable them to prosecute the perpetrators of crime in times of conflict.
The best way to protect civilians, however, was to prevent conflicts in the first place, he said. In that regard, Nigeria would continue to support regional efforts to identify the root causes of conflict on the African continent. Within the West African subregion, significant strides had been made by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members to bring about the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Similarly, the African Union, through its Peace and Security Council, continued to direct its searchlight on potential flashpoints, as well as ongoing conflicts. The international community must support the efforts of national governments and regional organizations as they sought to strengthen the mechanism and instruments for the protection of civilians in armed conflict situations.
JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said that today’s conflicts had posed increasingly complex challenges, but that must not stop the international community from acting. United Nations peacekeeping operations must be given strong mandates and enough resources to protect civilians. The Council must systematically take account of the current resolutions on protection of civilians in armed conflict, when reviewing existing mandates and adopting new resolutions. He was also eager to see the adoption by the Council of a new resolution on children and armed conflict. Such a text establishing a robust mechanism for monitoring and reporting on serious international crimes against children in armed conflicts, as well as provisions for the effective implementation of existing Council resolutions on children’s protection, were strongly needed.
He said that, while such mandates were essential, the ability to implement them was equally important. Although much progress had been made in recent years, there was still a long way to go in ensuring the effectiveness of integrated missions. An integrated approach to civilians’ protection must be implemented in close conjunction with the mainstreaming of human rights protection into the whole United Nations system. In that context, he supported the idea of upgrading the Human Rights Commission to a standing Human Rights Council, which would reflect, at the institutional level, the central position of human rights in the Organization, alongside security and development. Such a Council should also have a strong mandate to address urgent human rights situations and be given the necessary resources so that it could respond to imminent human rights violations.
The Secretary-General’s proposals for a more consistent approach to peacebuilding and to establishing an interlocking system of peacekeeping capacities between the United Nations and regional organizations were welcome. The creation of a new Peacebuilding Commission could prove crucial in extending the period of political attention at the international level to post-conflict recovery. Time and again, he was reminded of the risk of post-conflict situations relapsing into conflict. It was vital, therefore, to establish systems that would facilitate long-term commitment and continuous vigilance by the international community, even after peace agreements had been concluded. Adopting and applying a regulatory framework for civilian protection was primarily the responsibility of a State, but the international community could not leave it to the State in question to “close the accountability gap” in the face of gross atrocities. In such situations, when all other means have been exhausted, the Security Council has the responsibility to act -- without hesitation, with authority, and in an effective way.
PHILIPPE DJANGONE-BI (Côte d’Ivoire) expressed his country’s gratitude for the Secretary-General’s tireless efforts over the past six years to keep the world’s attention focused on the question of civilian protection. Unwilling pawns in armed conflicts, including refugees, internally displaced persons, men, women, children and the elderly were all entitled to protection, and States had an absolute and sacred duty to protect them without regard to their national interests. However, civilian protection also involved prevention, a duty that could be carried out only in full and scrupulous respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.
He recalled that in 2004 the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs had presented the outlines for strengthened civilian protection guidelines, which highlighted the continuing lacunae for implementing the 10-point Platform. Those lacunae persisted today and no corrective action had been taken. The situation in Côte d’Ivoire illustrated the continuing weaknesses in civilian protection as had been shown by the urgency of the situation in the country’s western region. The Government had taken humanitarian action with its limited resources and carried out investigations of those accused of perpetrating the carnage, and it was grateful to the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) for its assistance.
For victims living in the hell of conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, various agreements had been concluded, including one on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, which must begin on 27 June, he stressed. The Council’s position on that fundamental issue would provide basic assistance to the African Union mission that would soon be under way. Those who prospered in time of war must not be allowed to hold the country hostage. While States retained the primary responsibility for civilian protection, in this time of interdependence all countries must support one another. It was that solidarity that the Ivorian delegation advocated, so that prompt and effective protection could be provided to civilians in armed conflict.
Responding to comments made, Mr. EGELAND said that today’s debate proved that there was hope, as well as increased attention, to the plight of civilians in armed conflict and increased action. There was now more and better peacekeeping, more and better humanitarian action, and more human rights action than before. More was known than ever before on the extent, nature and gravity of the violations against civilians, especially against the most vulnerable. Many speakers had underlined the need to go from rhetoric to action. There was also widespread agreement on what the goals should be and the need to discuss what was to be done in the field.
In the Secretary-General’s report to the Council in December, he said he hoped to provide an “x-ray of the trends” in each of the 10 areas of the 10-point programme. There were areas in which progress had been made, areas where there had been a standstill, and areas which experienced regression. The aim should be to make progress in each of the 10 areas. As Denmark mentioned, there was a need to sharpen the tools for protection, as well as to include women in decision-making.
He noted that a particularly important opportunity had arisen, with regard to the Secretary-General’s reform proposals, to make humanitarian action more predictable. It had been possible to deploy a large humanitarian presence in some conflict areas, to the benefit of some populations. But elsewhere there was very little action being taken. There should be predictability in action, according to the needs and not according to media attention or resource availability. The Secretary-General had proposed more predictable funding through a humanitarian fund, which could focus on neglected or forgotten emergencies, or to jumpstart operations.
He also hoped to see more predictability in response. The humanitarian community was looking at how to fill the gaps in humanitarian response capacity. He hoped to come up with serious proposals on how to fill those gaps. All that should lead to a meeting in December, at which he hoped to present a more positive picture of the situation of civilians in armed conflict than the one presented today.