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Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/2021/423) [EN/AR/RU]

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to the request in the statement by the President of the Security Council of 21 September 2018 (S/PRST/2018/18). It also responds to the Council’s requests for reporting on specific themes in resolutions 2286 (2016), 2417 (2018), 2474 (2019) and 2475 (2019).

2. The global state of the protection of civilians in armed conflict in 2020 is reviewed in section II. Armed conflict continued to be characterized by high levels of civilian death, injury and psychological trauma, sexual violence, torture and disappearance, as well as damaged and destroyed homes, schools, markets, hospitals and essential civilian infrastructure, such as electrical and water systems. The threat of famine resurfaced, with the worst hunger and highest risks of famine clustered i n conflict-affected areas. Conflict, environmental degradation and climate risks converged, with vast humanitarian consequences. More people were forcibly displaced in mid-2020 than the year before.

3. The state of the protection of medical care in armed conflict, five years since the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2286 (2016), is examined in section III. Violence, threats and attacks against medical care persist. Combined with conflict, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is intensifying human suffering and placing enormous strain on weakened health-care services. While some States have developed and implemented good practices to protect medical care, much more needs to be done.

4. With COVID-19 spreading around the world, in March 2020 the SecretaryGeneral called for an immediate global ceasefire to help to create corridors for life - saving aid, open windows for diplomacy and bring hope to those most vulnerable to the pandemic. In its resolution 2532 (2020), adopted in July 2020, the Security Council also demanded a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda, recognizing that conditions of violence and instability in conflict situations could exacerbate the pandemic. The Council reiterated that demand in its resolution 2565 (2021). The call for a global ceasefire generated widespread support. A total of 180 Member States and one non-member observer State endorsed the call, as did more than 20 armed groups and other entities and more than 800 civil society organizations. That broad support notwithstanding, armed conflict continues to deepen vulnerabilities and exacerbate the impact of the pandemic.

5. In February 2020, the Secretary-General launched a call to action for human rights, which promotes a transformative vision for human rights that provides specific solutions to fundamental human rights challenges. The call to action envisages the development of an agenda for protection that provides a common understanding across the three pillars of the United Nations of the centrality of protection and seeks to ensure a common approach to human rights protection, building on existing protection systems