OI Policy Compendium Note on the role of United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in the protection of civilians Overview Since 1999
, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions have been explicitly mandated to protect civilians under threat in the countries where they are deployed. However, there remains a significant degree of confusion amongst soldiers and civilians deployed in peacekeeping missions about what exactly their civilian protection mandate entails. Oxfam expects military and civilian staff deployed as part of a peacekeeping mission with a protection mandate to respond as a matter of priority and urgency to any threat of violence, coercion or deliberate deprivation to the civilian population. Oxfam believes that the United Nations bodies and Member States must provide its peacekeeping missions with better leadership and guidance to implement their protection mandate. This should include the following: • The UN Security Council must ensure that UN peacekeeping missions’ efforts to protect civilians are supported by high-level political measures to prevent, respond to and recover from violent conflict, including sustained and serious diplomacy with host governments and mediation between warring factions. • The UN Security Council must improve their monitoring and evaluation of any peacekeeping mission’s performance on civilian protection. • The UN Secretariat must prioritise the protection of civilians within ongoing peacekeeping reform debates, and provide its peacekeeping missions with more guidance and support on civilian protection responsibilities, at doctrinal as well as strategic and operational levels. • All UN bodies and Member States must directly and proactively engage conflictaffected communities in the identification of and mitigation against protection threats as well as the overall evaluation of mission effectiveness. . 1. Definitions Oxfam broadly agrees with the common definition of the protection of civilians as representing all activities aimed at obtaining full respect of the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and the spirit of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law 1 . However, given the elasticity of this definition to potentially include all programme and activities that aim to strengthen basic rights, Oxfam’s simple working definition of civilian protection focuses on efforts that improve the safety of civilians exposed to widespread threats of violence, coercion or deliberate deprivation 2 . Oxfam believes that this can be done by reducing the threat itself, people’s vulnerability to the threat, or the frequency of times that they are exposed. Within the conflict scenarios where peacekeeping missions most commonly find themselves deployed, these threats usually take on one of more of the following forms: • Violence – generally includes deliberate killing, wounding, torture, cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment, sexual violence including rape, and the threat of any of the above;
Originally based on the ICRC definition, this is the text that was agreed in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Policy Paper on “Protection of Internally Displaced Persons”, New York, December 1999. 2 See for example Oxfam International Humanitarian Dossier (last updated January 2008), p.23, or OGB Humanitarian Handbook, section 3.9.2.
Coercion – generally includes forced prostitution, sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, forced or compulsory labour, forced displacement or return, forced recruitment into armed forces, and being forced to commit acts of violence against others; and Deliberate deprivation – generally includes deliberately destroying civilian objects such as homes, wells, crops and clinics; preventing the delivery of relief supplies or access to land and jobs; demanding illegal ‘taxes’ or tolls.
Civilians have a right to be protected by their national governments and international dutybearer against all of the above threats under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. 2. Background Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented surge in the deployment of UN peacekeeping missions as part of the international community’s efforts to resolve conflicts and address threats to peace and security. Increasingly, these missions have begun to shift away from the traditional structure of peacekeeping (the monitoring of a negotiated agreement between two warring parties) and towards more complex ‘multi-dimensional’ missions whose broad list of tasks may include anything from the development of institutions or holding elections to outright war fighting or the protection of civilians. In 1999 – following the world’s failures to stop horrific violence and bloodshed in Rwanda, Bosnia and Somalia – the UN Security Council for the first time included the protection of the civilian population as an explicit task in a UN peacekeeping mission’s mandate 3 , and acknowledged the importance of civilian protection in a dedicated UN Security Council Resolution 4 . Today very few UN peacekeeping missions are deployed to the field without an explicit mandate to protect civilians. Unfortunately, there remains a significant degree of confusion amongst soldiers and civilians deployed in peacekeeping missions in the field about what exactly their civilian protection mandate entails. Oxfam expects any peacekeeping missions deployed with a civilian protection mandate to respond to protection threats with civilian, police and military means as a matter of priority and urgency. Peacekeeping missions should not view the protection of civilians as a narrow field of activity focused solely around the use of force to prevent the commission of atrocities. Rather, protection of civilians has a number of complementary strands, some of which will be the exclusive concern of the civil side of the mission, others which will necessitate a closely coordinated joint civil-military approach and a third category embracing the application of force, or the threat of force, which is of direct concern to the military. 3. Oxfam International’s position on the role of UN peacekeeping missions in the protection of civilians The successful implementation of a protection approach within peacekeeping operations requires political will and concerted action at various levels – from the United Nations Security Council to individual member states, and from the UN Secretariat down to each individual field mission and also regional organisations. Oxfam believes that these institutions must act in concert to increase peacekeeping missions’ capacities for civilian protection: The United Nations Security Council must provide clear leadership in protecting civilians caught up in conflict, as per UN Security Council Resolution 1265, by: • Expressly acknowledging that national governments bear primary responsibility for protecting their civilians and publicly calling on them to assume these functions wherever possible. • Engaging in more forceful and courageous diplomacy with national governments as well as, where possible and appropriate, non-state armed groups to prevent, mitigate the impacts of and help countries recover from violent conflict.
S/RES/1270 (22 October 1999). S/RES/1265 (17 September 1999).
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Increasing the UN Secretariat’s as well as their own national capacities for mediation during political crises. Ensuring that peacekeeping missions deployed into situations where ceasefires or peace agreements are not fully respected or implemented are either equipped with a clear mandate to accompany the political process or are working alongside an agreed and viable third-party mechanism that is empowered to work with warring parties on finding sustainable and inclusive political solutions. Refraining from sending peacekeeping missions into conflict zones where their presence might further destabilise the situation for civilians. Ensuring that peacekeeping missions more serve the interests of their intended beneficiaries by explicitly mandating them to work more directly and proactively with conflict-affected communities to identify and mitigate against protection threats. Directly involve conflict-affected communities in monitoring and evaluation of any mission’s performance. Publicly and systematically condemning all actors (be they state or non-state groups) who are evidently breaching international humanitarian and human rights law; and investing into better international analysis and monitoring of such abuses through increased use of fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry and deployments of independent human rights officers to conflict zones, with the end goal being to enforce accountability measures and end impunity As a matter of procedure and regular practice, clearly conditioning support to national protection actors on actual adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law. Supporting regional actors and institutions (including the African Union) to carry out diplomacy to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflict and deploy peacekeeping missions that are capable of implementing their protection of civilians mandates. Working more closely with troop and police-contributing countries to learn from their experiences on civilian protection and ensure that PoC principles and approaches are integrated into national military doctrines and training materials.
The UN Secretariat, including the UN Secretary General, Department for Peacekeeping Operations and Department for Field Support must support their peacekeeping missions in carrying out mandates protection responsibilities by: • Prioritising the protection of civilians as part of ongoing peacekeeping reform debates, and ensuring that long-standing weaknesses within the area of resourcing, training, and ability for rapid deployments of capable military, police and civilian staff are addressed as a matter of urgency under current reform initiatives. • Providing its peacekeeping missions with more guidance and support on civilian protection responsibilities, at doctrinal as well as strategic and operational levels. • Ensure that guidance on Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) corresponds to agreed Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines 5 , and ensure that all peacekeeping personnel receive more systematic training on the appropriate management of civilmilitary relations. • Commit to working more directly and proactively with conflict-affected communities, and making consultations with the intended beneficiaries of the peacekeeping mission’s deployment a requirement for all technical and strategic assessment missions. • Require all peacekeeping missions to include conflict-affected communities in the monitoring and evaluation of their performance (including impact of initial deployment, discussions around major mandate revisions, and benchmarks for mission drawdown).
As outlined in key IASC documents (including IASC Reference paper on Civil-Military Relationship in Complex Emergencies, http://ochaonline.un.org/DocView.asp?DocID=1219 and Guidelines on the Use Of Military and Civil Defence Assets to Support United Nations Humanitarian Activities in Complex Emergencies (MCDA Guidelines), http://ochaonline.un.org/GetBin.asp?DocID=426.
Military, police and civilian staff working for DPKO missions in the field - and in particular all senior management (Special Representative of the Secretary General-SRSG, Deputy SRSGs, Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators, Force Commander and Police Commander), Political Affairs, Military officers, Police officers, Civil Affairs, Human Rights, Child Protection, Public Information, and the UN Department for Safety & Security – must work together closely on: • Pressing national governments to assume their responsibility for protecting civilians under threat as soon as and wherever possible, and where relevant supporting national institutions (particularly army, police and justice officials) on their protection responsibilities through training, capacity-building and resources. • Prioritising the protection of civilians within the mission implementation strategy and providing clear guidance and strategies to each section on what actions and activities are expected of them to contribute to civilian protection • Ensuring that all relevant military, police and civilian staff receive pre-deployment and mission-specific training on their specific protection responsibilities. • Working closely with Military officers to prepare and design contextually appropriate military responses to common civilian protection threats, such as patrolling where community prioritises safe passage -as in the case of Darfur and DRC where firewood patrols and farm patrols were instituted. • Working closely with Police officers to design contextually appropriate training and mentoring activities or executive law enforcement tasks around common civilian protection threats, such as crowd and riot control, crisis management, and countering small-scale instances of vandalism, looting or banditry. • Ensuring that civilian units within the mission are fully empowered to carry out their specific protection responsibilities and working closely with senior mission management to inform the prevention and response activities implemented by military and police officers. • Regularly discussing the mission’s mandate and capacities, communities’ protection needs, and protection threats, with the conflict-affected communities. • Directly involving conflict-affected communities in the monitoring and evaluating the mission’s performance and regularly measuring public perceptions of the mission. • Ensuring that agreed global civil-military principles and policies 6 are translated into context-specific civil-military guidance and respected by all mission personnel. • Consulting with local organisations and humanitarian agencies to improve the mission’s analysis of existing protection threats and discuss appropriate mission responses with other mandated protection actors. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the protection cluster can offer an entry point for establishing communication with independent humanitarian actors in the most appropriate manner. 4. What Oxfam will do • On the basis of our field operations and analysis, engage with the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly and UN Secretariat to share experiences and lessons learnt on the implementation of UN peacekeeping missions’ protection mandates. This includes closely following mandate development and renewals; the work of UN Security Council’s informal working groups on peacekeeping and the protection of civilians; UNSC field visits; and DPKO-led technical or strategic assessment missions. • Constructively engage with UN peacekeeping missions, at appropriate levels and in a manner that does not undermine our independence and impartiality, on the implementation of their civilian protection mandate. Oxfam’s engagement with UN peacekeeping missions should not be seen as an endorsement of the mission’s actions or presence.
As outlined in key IASC documents (including IASC Reference paper on Civil-Military Relationship in Complex Emergencies, http://ochaonline.un.org/DocView.asp?DocID=1219)
Participate in relevant humanitarian fora, including general coordination meetings and protection clusters, to identify and analyse civilian protection threats and where appropriate work with others to bring these to the attention of UN peacekeeping missions. Support efforts to assess the performance of UN peacekeeping missions in protection civilians, and wherever possible provide feedback on the perceptions of the mission amongst its beneficiary population. Support pre-deployment and mission-specific training on civilian protection for all of the mission’s military, police and civilian staff, and where requested take part or contribute to civilian protection trainings. This includes ssupporting efforts to build awareness of civilian protection mandates in troop-contributing countries. Conduct its operations in accordance with internationally accepted humanitarian principles, and guidelines on interaction between humanitarian agencies and military forces as outlined in the OI Policy Note on The Provision of Aid by Military Forces. Oppose the use of Quick Impact projects that are similar to the work undertaken by humanitarian agencies and may confuse the respective role and remit of the humanitarian agencies and militaries in the minds of beneficiaries and other observers. Force protection and stabilisation is better achieved by military actors abiding by international humanitarian law (IHL) and protecting civilians.
Published by Oxfam International November 2007 Published by Oxfam GB for Oxfam International under ISBN 978-1-84814-593-1