UN Panel Recommends Unarmed Civilian Protection (Summer 2015)

By Kathleen Laurila, Nonviolent Peaceforce

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Mel Duncan with Peace Operations Review Panel member, Dr. Rima Salah after the release of the report.

“Unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN efforts to protect civilians,” states the report of the UN High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations released on June 16.”

The panel, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon last October, was charged with reviewing all UN peace operations and to recommend how the UN could effectively respond to the changing nature of war and the increased number of civilians in need of protection.

The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in their annual report entitled World at War observes:

Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere…during 2014, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere.

Included in the Panel’s report:

Many non-governmental organizations, national and international, also ensure protection by their civilian presence and commitment to non-violent strategies for protection. Missions should make every effort to harness or leverage the non-violent practices and capabilities of local communities and non-governmental organizations to support the creation of a protective environment.

“This is the highest recognition that unarmed civilian protection has ever received,” observed Duncan, NP’s Advocacy and Outreach Director. “It is an affirmation of not only NP’s civilian protectors in the field but also of the work carried out by Peace Brigades International, Christian Peace Maker Teams, Cure Violence and so many more.”

“The Panel reviewed the excellent input by Nonviolent Peaceforce which shared with us its positive experience in protecting civilians in war torn situations. In our Report we recommend that the UN engages more those brave people working in the field, unarmed, in protection of civilians,” said Panel chair Jose’ Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Timor Leste.

NP will now build on this report and work for the implementation of the unarmed civilian protection recommendation. “The report reaffirms our sober obligation to muster the resources to protect as many civilians as possible while spreading the methods of unarmed civilian protection.”

Kathleen Laurila
Nonviolent Peaceforce
(612) 871-0005 ext 230