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report of October 2009 and offers a statistical analysis of Council action in country-specific situations in 2009 compared with the previous five years. (It also touches on important developments in 2010.) Two case studies are presented—on Chad and Somalia—offering a more in-depth view of the dilemmas the Council faces in addressing protection needs. There is also a section on special issues related to protection in the peacekeeping context. As always in SCR’s publications, some future possible options for the Council are outlined. The options section is not intended as an exhaustive list, but rather offers some suggestions.
In the period covered by this report, protection of civilians has remained a major issue in the Council’s work. While there were perhaps fewer acute conflict-related crises than identified in our last report, the situation for civilians in Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad in particular, but also elsewhere, remained serious or deteriorated.
Our analysis indicates that the Council has now begun more systematically to address protection of civilians concerns in situations on its agenda than it has ever done before. At the same time, major divisions in the Council remain as to when and where force should be used to protect civilians. This gap was exposed in 2009 (as in previous years) in discussions on Sudan and the DRC.
The Council also significantly developed its thematic work on protection in 2009. With the adoption of resolution 1894 in November 2009, its fourth thematic resolution on protection of civilians, it introduced new provisions focusing on humanitarian access, implementation of protection mandates in peacekeeping operations and monitoring and reporting which are analysed in this report. The Council also made several important decisions relating to the special protection needs of women and children. For more details on the latter, please refer to our recent Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict of June 2010 and Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security of October 2010.
Our case studies on Chad and Somalia illustrate some of the many challenges that remain. In Chad, the government’s request for the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) to withdraw exacerbated what was already a problematic operation that had struggled to reach its authorised troop levels. The Council had ignored the Secretary-General’s advice to put more emphasis on a political solution to the crisis and not to authorise a peacekeeping mission until sufficient pledges had been made by member states. Divisions among Council members also made the Council less effective in managing relations with Chad as the host country and using collective leverage in discussions with the Chadian government.
Somalia provides an important case study. It is a case where the Council decided not to authorise a UN peacekeeping operation although it has been under pressure to do so in part for reasons relating to protection needs. A key issue in Somalia is the continued impact of conflict on the civilian population and the continuing deterioration in their situation. Obstruction of humanitarian access is an important factor. The strategy endorsed by the Council seems to have left very few options for protecting civilians on the ground. Somalia also represents an example of the Council’s considerable reluctance to seriously address the accountability dimensions of the protection issue either through sanctions or other measures.
In the DRC, which was included as a case study in our last Cross-Cutting Report on Protection of Civilians, the Council has also continued to face particularly acute protection challenges as retaliatory attacks by rebel groups against civilians, and women in particular, have continued. These are, however, not discussed in detail in this report. Our October 2010 Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security includes a case study on these recent developments in the DRC.
Other findings of this report include:
The Council has systematically included protection language in most relevant country-specific decisions (although it was less consistent in presidential statements than in resolutions). The clarity of the language also seemed to improve when compared with similar Council decisions in 2008.
There is now growing emphasis on benchmarks as a means to monitor implementation of peacekeeping mandates, and this could prove beneficial for implementation of protection tasks. This was evident both in Council decisions requesting or endorsing such benchmarks and in the Secretary-General’s reports which now more frequently included indicators related to the protection of civilians.
The Council remained cautious on issues related to accountability. While it supported the establishment of an international commission of inquiry in the case of Guinea, this was somewhat indirect. And the Council made negligible use of targeted sanctions in situations where violations had been committed against civilians despite having repeatedly expressed its willingness to do so. The Council has yet to designate sanctions for any perpetrators of violence against women in spite of widespread reports that such abuses have taken place and its commitment to use such measures expressed in 2008 in resolution 1820.
There were no significant changes in the quality of the Secretary-General’s reporting. It seemed too early to detect any impact of the Council’s request in resolution 1894 for more detailed and comprehensive information on protection issues. Indeed new reporting guidelines to missions are not yet in place, 12 months after the resolution’s adoption.
Important developments have taken place on issues related to implementation of protection mandates in UN peacekeeping. Three peacekeeping operations—the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the UN/AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)—have completed development of comprehensive protection strategies. Other missions are in the process of developing such strategies. The Secretariat is working on a strategic framework for protection strategies, as well as protection training modules for peacekeeping personnel.
The informal Council expert group on protection of civilians seems to be continuing to contribute to improving the Council’s focus on issues related to protection of civilians. It provides members with additional information on key protection issues and has contributed to improved coordination of Council action, both across situations and between the thematic and country-specific level. A few Council members still have reservations about the group, however. Major changes to the group’s format or agenda therefore seem unlikely at this stage.
The Council’s next debate on protection of civilians in November 2010 offers another opportunity for the Council to take stock of progress on key issues, such as the implementation of resolution 1894, and to indicate areas where further work is needed. Five key challenges were outlined in the Secretary-General’s May 2009 report on the protection of civilians—enhancing compliance with international humanitarian law, including by non-state armed groups; making more effective use of UN peacekeeping and other relevant missions in protection of civilians; improving humanitarian access; and strengthening accountability for violations of international humanitarian law. These seem to be just as valid today. Our options section at the end of the report also canvasses some new issues which may offer a significant protection impact, including beginning to focus on the effects on civilians caused by explosive weapons of war and compensation mechanisms for civilian victims of war.
While in the past few years, dynamics in the Council seemed favourable for protection issues, this could change in 2011. It remains to be seen, however, how the presence of India rather than Japan, or Columbia rather than Mexico, will impact the Council’s involvement in the protection of civilians, but as we pointed out also in our last report, further progress on this issue will require a less politicised approach.
S/1998/318) and on protection of humanitarian assistance to refugees and others (S/1998/883).
The Council’s first thematic decision on protection of civilians in armed conflict was a presidential statement adopted in February 1999 which condemned attacks against civilians, called for respect for international humanitarian law and expressed the Council’s willingness to respond to situations in which civilians had been targeted by combatants. It requested a report from the Secretary-General on recommendations for the Council’s future work. The first landmark report containing forty recommendations was issued in September that same year. Later that month the Council adopted its first resolution on the protection of civilians, resolution 1265. It stressed the need to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law, address impunity, and improve access for and safety of humanitarian personnel, and it also emphasised the importance of conflict prevention and cooperation with regional and other organisations.
The Council has since remained engaged on the issue of protection of civilians, both at the thematic level and in country-specific situations. It has adopted three additional thematic resolutions, including the most recent one, resolution 1894 of 11 November 2009, reaffirming its initial commitment to the issue and strengthening provisions in certain areas. In August 2003, in the wake of the attack on the UN compound in Baghdad, in resolution 1502, it reinforced its previous decisions on the protection of humanitarian and UN and associated personnel, and in 2006 it adopted resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists and other media professionals.
The Council has adopted a total of eight presidential statements on the protection of civilians. The second presidential statement of March 2002 endorsed an aide-mémoire proposed by the Secretary-General as an instrument of guidance to facilitate the Council’s consideration of issues pertaining to the protection of civilians in country-specific situations, in particular relating to peacekeeping mandates. It listed key objectives for Council action and specific questions for consideration in meeting those objectives. In 2009, in its January presidential statement on the protection of civilians, the Council endorsed a revised updated version of the aide-mémoire.
Another tool the Council has invoked to facilitate protection discussions in country-specific situations is the informal Council expert group on protection of civilians. This was established in January 2009 under UK chairmanship. It meets regularly at working level in connection with the renewal of relevant UN mandates to receive briefings by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on key protection issues. Since its inception it has met a total of 17 times.
At the request of the Council, the Secretary-General has issued a total of seven reports on the protection of civilians, providing more than one hundred recommendations to the Council. The eighth report is due in November 2010.
1894 of 11 November 2009 reaffirms the Council’s commitment to the protection of civilians while focusing in particular on humanitarian access, protection mandates in peacekeeping missions and the need for monitoring and reporting. It contains several new provisions.
In terms of humanitarian assistance, the resolution reaffirms the Council’s role in promoting humanitarian access and expresses its intention to:
call on parties to armed conflict to facilitate passage of relief consignments, equipment and personnel, and mandate missions to assist in creating conditions for humanitarian access; and
consistently condemn all violence against humanitarian personnel and call on parties to comply with obligations to protect such personnel, as well as humanitarian consignments.
In terms of peacekeeping, the resolution reflects several of the key findings and recommendations of the independent study jointly commissioned by OCHA and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) on implementation of protection mandates, officially released on 6 November 2009. The resolution:
recognises the need to take into account the protection needs of civilians in an early phase of the drafting of mandates, to engage with countries concerned and to consult with the Secretariat and troop and police-contributing countries (TCCs and PCCs);
requests the Secretary-General to develop, in close consultation with member states and other actors, an operational concept on protection and to report back on progress;
requests the Secretary-General to ensure that UN operations with protection mandates conduct mission-wide planning, pre-deployment training and senior leadership training on protection, and requests TCCs and PCCs to ensure appropriate training;
requests the Secretary-General to ensure that all peacekeeping operations with protection mandates incorporate protection strategies into the overall mission implementation plans; and
reaffirms its practice of requiring benchmarks to measure and review progress in the implementation of mandates and stresses the importance of including protection indicators in such benchmarks.
In terms of monitoring and reporting, the resolution:
emphasises the importance of addressing compliance issues in country- specific situations and of receiving timely, objective, accurate and reliable information;
invites the Secretary-General to continue systematic monitoring and analysis of constraints on humanitarian access and to include observations and recommendations both in briefings and country-specific reports; and
requests the Secretary-General to include in his next report on protection of civilians a best practice guide of measures taken by current peacekeeping operations to protect civilians;
requests the Secretary-General to include in his reports on country-specific situations more comprehensive and detailed information relating to protection of civilians, including on protection-related incidents and actions taken by parties;
requests the Secretary-General to develop guidance for UN operations and other relevant missions on protection reporting with a view to streamlining such reporting and enhancing the Council’s monitoring and oversight.
Council Debates on the Protection of Civilians
In the Council’s open debate on protection of civilians following the adoption of resolution 1894, then Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes highlighted engagement with non-state armed groups as an issue critical to strengthening compliance with the normative framework and ensuring humanitarian access. He also called for greater consistency in the Council’s application of targeted sanctions against violators of international humanitarian law and addressed key issues related to protection of civilians mandates in peacekeeping operations.
A statement from High Commissioner Navanethem Pillay, delivered by Deputy Kyung-wha Kang, stressed in particular the importance of stronger political will to take timely action and called on the Council to ensure accountability and combat impunity for violators of international law. It also highlighted specific issues relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Darfur, the DRC and Gaza.
The Council debate was preceded by an Arria formula meeting on 5 November 2009 hosted by the UK on “Ten years of engagement in the protection of civilians: the view from the field.” It featured as speakers Lieutenant General Jasbir Singh Lidder, the former Indian commander of the UNMIS, Nicky Smith, Director of advocacy of the International Rescue Committee and Colin Keating, Executive Director of SCR.
The Council held the next debate on protection of civilians on 7 July 2010. The Secretary-General, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay also spoke. A key focus in the debate was the role of peacekeeping missions in the protection of civilians and remaining challenges in that regard.
The Secretary-General emphasised the importance of sustained political support by the Council to ensure implementation of peacekeeping mandates. He also stressed the need for a stronger common understanding of what protection of civilians entails in practice and a willingness to either manage expectations or provide peacekeepers with adequate capabilities. With reference to Chad and the DRC, the Secretary-General warned against the premature termination of peacekeeping missions and said benchmarks on protection of civilians should be achieved before withdrawal of peacekeepers. He also highlighted accountability as a key challenge, specifically mentioning Sri Lanka and Guinea.
Holmes highlighted the appointment of Margot Wallström as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the recent briefing to the DRC Sanctions Committee by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict as two important institutional developments. While also welcoming other positive developments, including the work of the Council’s informal expert group on protection of civilians, Holmes expressed concern that little had improved on the ground, highlighting in particular the situation for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Holmes also reiterated his call for the Council to respect and promote engagement with non-state armed groups to improve their compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
Other issues addressed by Holmes included humanitarian access and the effects of explosive weapons on civilians. He said more research was needed on these effects and urged the Council to begin a dialogue “on ways to tackle this emerging issue.” In regards to peacekeeping issues, Holmes stressed, as had the Secretary-General, that “the drawdown of UN peacekeeping missions should be made contingent on the attainment of clear protection benchmarks endorsed by the Security Council.” Finally, Holmes urged the Council to take a robust approach to accountability issues and also floated the idea of establishing a permanent mechanism somewhere in the UN system to conduct inquiries on serious allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, more or less automatically, to prevent issues from being politicised by being treated on a case-by-case basis.
Pillay also emphasised accountability as a key issue for protecting civilians. She argued that the establishment of commissions of inquiry was the most significant action taken by the Council for the protection of civilians and called for more frequent use of such mechanisms.
The Council’s Informal Expert Group
The Council’s informal expert group on protection on civilians has continued to meet regularly under the chairmanship of the UK. The agenda has expanded slightly to include mandate renewals not only of UN peacekeeping operations with a protection aspect or a UN political mission involved in protection tasks, but also of UN mandated missions such as the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) or the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF).
The format of the meetings has not changed. Council members are briefed by OCHA (which plays a secretariat role for the Group) on the most important protection concerns in the situation under consideration. The DPKO is also present to answer questions. OCHA also reports on actions taken on the ground to address protection concerns, and makes suggestions for Council action, including possible language for inclusion in the resolutions based on the revised aide-mémoire endorsed by the Council in January 2009.
The working group held seven meetings in 2009. So far in 2010 it has met ten times. The following missions have been discussed to date:
UNOCI (Côte d’Ivoire)
This past year has also seen some important developments relating to the issues of women, peace and security and children and armed conflict. Margot Wallström was appointed by the Secretary-General as his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict on 2 February 2010. (The Council had requested the creation of this post in resolution 1888 .) Also, in April the Council received a proposal from the Secretary-General on a set of indicators to track implementation of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, including indicators on prevention, protection, relief and recovery. The Council adopted a presidential statement on 27 April expressing its support for the new Special Representative and requesting the Secretary-General to continue work on a comprehensive set of indicators to be presented to the Council in time for the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 in October 2010. A revised set of indicators was included in the Secretary-General’s report on women, peace, and security of 28 September 2010.
On 16 June 2010 the Council discussed the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict in an open debate. It adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2010/10) reiterating the Council’s strong condemnation of violations of international law involving recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict. It also expressed concern about the growing number of attacks against schools and educational facilities. In addition, the Council expressed deep concern over persistent violators and expressed its readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against them. It also invited the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to exchange pertinent information with relevant sanctions committees and for sanctions committees to regularly invite the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to brief them on information contained in the Secretary-General’s reports. Other areas highlighted in the presidential statement included strengthening the monitoring and reporting mechanism for children and armed conflict and the need for parties that had not done so to prepare and implement action plans to halt recruitment, killing and maiming and/or rape and sexual violence against children.
Also of relevance to the protection of civilians agenda was a Council debate on 29 June on “The promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security.” In a presidential statement emphasising its commitment to mediation and the peaceful settlement of disputes, the Council recognised respect for international humanitarian law as an essential component of the rule of law in conflict situations and reaffirmed that the protection of civilians should be included in any conflict resolution strategy. It also called for all parties to armed conflict to respect international law applicable to civilians, stressed the importance of fighting impunity and expressed its willingness to act in this regard.
On 1 August 2010 the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force. As of 25 October 108 countries had signed and 43 countries had ratified the Convention.
On 19 August 2010, the 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel entered into force.
1865. This resolution contained new language relating to the protection of women and children, in particular calling for investigation of abuses and accountability for those found to be responsible. The expert group also met before UNOCI’s next mandate renewal in July 2009, adopted by the Council in resolution 1880. This resolution largely confirmed the language in resolution 1865 and also stressed the need for close coordination between UNOCI and humanitarian agencies to ensure a timely response to threats against civilians.
In 2009 the expert group also met to discuss the mandate renewals for UNMIS, UNAMID and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), which like UNOCI are all missions with an explicit mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence. In all of these cases it appeared that protection language was strengthened or expanded. In resolution 1870 renewing UNMIS’s mandate in April, the Council urged the mission to “make full use of its current mandate and capabilities to provide security to the civilian population” and also stressed the importance of flexible deployment “in particular in areas where civilians are under threat of violence”.
In resolution 1881 renewing UNAMID’s mandate in July the Council reiterated previous protection language, but also added a new request for the parties to create conditions for the return of refugees and IDPs. It also asked the Secretary-General to develop a comprehensive strategy for providing protection to women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.
Resolution S/RES/1906 adopted in December 2009 by which the Council renewed MONUC’s mandate until 31 May 2010 was particularly noteworthy. Prior to the mandate renewal, MONUC had faced widespread criticism for its support of the Congolese government forces, Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), in its operations against rebel groups in eastern DRC, not only because FARDC elements were accused of committing serious human rights violations, including attacks against civilians, but also because these operations led to reprisal attacks against civilians by the rebels. In the past the Council had emphasised that these operations should be planned jointly with MONUC and should comply with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. In November 2009 MONUC had suspended support to some units of the DRC armed forces responsible for human rights violations against civilians.
In resolution 1906 the Council went a step further and introduced the concept of “conditionality” of MONUC’s support for FARDC. It reiterated that this support must be strictly conditioned on FARDC’s compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and called on MONUC to withdraw support from FARDC units accused of violations of these obligations. The resolution also called for the creation of a vetting mechanism for the FARDC and national security forces to ensure that persons associated with violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses were excluded from being integrated into government forces. (This was not a new provision, however, as the Council already in resolution 1794 adopted in 2007 called for such a mechanism to be established.) In another provision the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide a briefing to the Council and TCCs and PCCs. within six weeks on the implementation of the system-wide protection strategy developed by MONUC at the end of 2009.
Chad and Somalia were other situations where the Council’s concern for civilians was reflected in decisions adopted in 2009. These will be analysed in more detail as separate case studies in Chapter 5.
When renewing other mandates with a protection dimension the Council mostly confirmed existing language from previous resolutions.
References to the special protection needs of women and children seemed to increase.
There was evidence that the Council’s strengthened thematic focus on children and armed conflict and women and sexual violence was also reflected in country-specific resolutions. Inclusion of child protection issues seems to have become established practice in Council decisions. References to women in country-specific resolutions have increased steadily since the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000 and reached 73 percent in 2009. While this percentage included references to women, peace and security in general, there was a strong focus on protection issues.
While the Council began to consistently request the Secretary-General to establish benchmarks for all mandated tasks and also endorsed such benchmarks, only in a few cases did it emphasise any benchmarks specifically on protection of civilians.
The Council had previously used benchmarks in some cases in an ad hoc way, but in 2009 it began, as a systematic part of its work on peacekeeping reform, to consistently do so in order to better monitor progress in the implementation of UN mandates. Establishment of such benchmarks has obvious implications for the Council’s ability to measure progress on implementation of protection mandates and, as such, they are relevant for the purposes of our analysis. We therefore wanted to take a closer look at the Council’s general approach to benchmarks as it relates to the eight peacekeeping operations with specific protection mandates.
UNMIL was one of the first missions where the Council endorsed benchmarks. These were initially mainly focused on security indicators, but in 2008 they were revised to also include indicators on human rights. When renewing UNMIL’s mandate in 2009 the Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to monitor progress on achievement of benchmarks. It did the same when renewing UNOCI’s mandate. The benchmarks for UNOCI, which were outlined in the Secretary-General’s July 2009 report, did not specifically address protection of civilians, but included indicators on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and restoration of state authority.
When renewing MINURCAT’s mandate in resolution 1861 adopted in January 2009 the Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposed benchmarks and stressed in particular those related to the return and settlement of IDPs, demilitarisation of refugee camps and the capacity of Chadian authorities to protect civilians.
In the cases of UNAMID and UNMIS the Council stressed the importance of “achievable and realistic targets against which the progress of UN peacekeeping operations can be measured” and requested the Secretary-General to develop such benchmarks. It did not, however, make any specific reference to protection benchmarks.
In October 2009 the Council welcomed progress in developing benchmarks for MINUSTAH which included indicators on rule of law and human rights.
The Council had requested the Secretary-General to develop benchmarks for MONUC prior to 2009, but when renewing MONUC’s mandate in December 2009 it requested the Secretary-General to further develop benchmarks, in particular on critical tasks to be achieved before MONUC could be withdrawn. However, the request did not specifically mention protection issues.
4.2 Presidential Statements
The Council adopted 35 presidential statements in 2009. This was a significant decline from the 48 statements adopted in 2008 and proportionally similar to the drop in the number of resolutions. The number of statements on situations with a protection dimension saw a corresponding decline. We found that 17 out of the 25 statements on country-specific situations could reasonably be expected to address protection issues. The proportion was approximately the same as in 2008.
Click here to view a chart detailing Presidential Statements on Country Situations with a Protection Dimension
Our analysis of these decisions revealed the following:
References to protection of civilians in presidential statements appeared to decline.
Seven of the 17 statements referred to above, or approximately 40 percent, did not, in fact, contain any protection language. (This compares with six of the 23 statements adopted in 2008.) The statements without references to protection issues included:
a statement on Haiti, expressing support for MINUSTAH and calling for increased support for economic and social development in the country;
a statement on the Middle-East and the Palestinian question;
three statements on the election process in Côte d’Ivoire; and
two statements on Afghanistan—one on the elections and one on a terrorist attack in Kabul.
A likely explanation for the lack of references to protection issues in many of these statements is the fact that they are focusing on very specific issues, as in the case of elections or terrorist attacks. In this context it is interesting to note that we found a similar trend in our 2010 Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict which concluded that there was an emerging pattern of more references to children and armed conflict in country-specific resolutions, whereas in presidential statements there seemed to be an opposite trend.
Statements tended to focus on a few, specific protection issues.
Of the ten presidential statements which did in fact refer to protection issues, there were three statements on Somalia, two on Iraq, two statements on the Central African Republic (CAR), one on Chad and the subregion, one on Nepal and one on Guinea.
In the case of Somalia, the Council focused on the deteriorating humanitarian situation and repeatedly called on all parties “to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular to respect the security of civilians, humanitarian workers and AMISOM personnel.” The Council used similar language in a statement on Chad, CAR and the subregion.
In statements on Iraq, the Council stressed the importance of creating conditions conducive to “voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Iraqi refugees and IDPs” and welcomed further attention to this issue by all concerned.
Statements on Nepal and CAR referred to the parties’ obligations concerning recruitment and use of child soldiers.
A presidential statement on the crisis in Guinea was noteworthy for its focus on accountability measures.
The Council statement on the situation in Guinea adopted on 28 October 2009 was particularly noteworthy (S/PRST/2009/27). In this case, the Council showed some willingness to take a more preventive approach by acting at an early stage following the crisis which had erupted the previous month when members of the Guinean army opened fire on civilians during a peaceful pro-democracy rally at a stadium in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. Several national and international human rights organisations confirmed at least 156 deaths. Others reported human rights violations including sexual violence against women, thousands of injuries and the arbitrary arrest of peaceful demonstrators and opposition party leaders.
Following a number of briefings and discussions among Council members in informal consultations, the Council adopted the presidential statement, which:
expressed concern about the situation in Guinea and the potential risk to regional peace and security following the events in September 2009 and condemned the violence against civilians;
called on the Guinean national authorities to fight against impunity and bring the perpetrators to justice;
expressed support for the Secretary-General’s decision to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate the events of 28 September; and
expressed the Council’s intention to follow the situation closely and requested the Secretary-General keep it updated as appropriate.
(The report by the international commission of inquiry was submitted to the Council on 18 December 2009. The Council subsequently adopted another presidential statement on the situation in Guinea on 16 February 2010 which commended the work of the commission and noted positively the submission of the report. (S/PRST/2010/3). For more details, please see our Update Report on Guinea of 4 March 2010.)
4.3. Developments in Council Sanctions Regimes
In 2009 there seemed to be increasing focus in the Council’s thematic work on the need to enhance compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law with targeted sanctions being frequently referred to as one of the tools available to influence behaviour and prevent future violations. While resolution 1894 does not refer directly to sanctions, it expresses the Council’s willingness to consider “appropriate measures” at its disposal “in accordance with the Charter of the UN” and specifically “to take appropriate steps in response to deliberate attacks against humanitarian personnel.”
The Council was more specific, however, in its decisions relating to violations against women and children. In a presidential statement on children and armed conflict adopted on 29 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/9) and in resolution 1882 adopted on 4 August 2009 which expanded the criteria for the Secretary-General’s listing of violators in his reports on children and armed conflict (the “list of shame”), the Council reaffirmed its intention, previously expressed in resolution 1612 of 2005, to take action through country-specific resolutions against parties violating applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict by imposing measures such as an arms embargo. In both decisions the Council also called for enhanced communication between the Working Group on Children and Armed conflict and relevant sanctions committees.
In resolution 1888 on women, peace and security adopted on 30 September 2009 the Council reiterated its intention, when adopting or renewing targeted sanctions in situations of armed conflict, to consider including designation criteria pertaining to acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence. It also called upon all peacekeeping and other relevant UN missions and UN bodies, in particular the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, to share all pertinent information about sexual violence with relevant sanctions committees, sanctions monitoring groups and groups of experts.
At the beginning of 2009 four of the existing 13 sanctions regimes—those related to Côte d’Ivoire, the DRC, Darfur and Somalia—comprised individually targeted measures related to violations of international law. While the decisions referred to above seem to indicate in principle an increased willingness on the part of the Council to consider sanctions against violators of international humanitarian law, there were in 2009 only three new designations of individuals or entities based on such criteria. To date in 2010 only one such designation has been announced.
The Council originally imposed sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire in 2004. These included an arms embargo and also travel restrictions and assets freeze on any persons responsible for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. But it was not until 2006, that the Council’s Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee designated three specific individuals for the travel restrictions and asset freeze, including one for human rights and humanitarian law violations. No new designations have been made since. When the Council renewed the sanctions regime for 12 months in resolution 1893 in October 2009 it did, however, underline that it was “fully prepared” to impose targeted measures against persons responsible for serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.
The DRC sanctions regime was originally created in 2003 and later modified and strengthened by, among other things, deciding to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals. Resolution 1807 adopted in March of 2008 stated that individuals committing serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children or women could be subject to such targeted measures. It was expanded in resolution 1857 of December 2008 to also target individuals obstructing the access to or the distribution of humanitarian assistance in the eastern part of the country. The Group of Experts monitoring this sanctions regime reported extensively on such violations in its reports to the Council in 2009.
It is worth noting that in its final report to the Council in 2009 in November, the Group said it had interpreted its mandate to include investigation of all violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law and not limited to the specific abuses listed in Council resolutions, “especially in consideration of the context of indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population perpetrated by armed groups and by FARDC”. In its view, the security situation often made it difficult to disaggregate specific types of human rights abuses.
The report identified several individuals as responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers and provided a list of FARDC commanders with an established record of grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The report also identified individuals responsible for reprisal attacks against the civilian population resulting from the FARDC’s military operations against FDLR (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda) in eastern DRC.
In its recommendations to the Council the Group of Experts noted that the limited implementation of the sanctions regime, together with the lack of follow-up at the national level on suspected violations, had “seriously undermined the credibility of the sanctions regime.” It recommended that the Council act on the findings of the Group’s recent reports to target additional individuals.
While the DRC Sanctions Committee in March 2009 did add four individuals to its sanctions list, three of them for violations against children, it has yet to make any designations related to violations against women. This is despite the Council’s apparently strong commitment to ending such abuses first expressed in March 2008, in resolution 1807, when the Council added acts of sexual violence to the criteria for imposing individually targeted sanctions relating to the DRC. This approach was reaffirmed at the thematic level three months later in resolution 1820 and then reiterated in resolution 1888 of 2009.
In 2010 there was a new development, however, when the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, on 21 June briefed the DRC Sanctions Committee. This was her first interaction with any of the Council’s sanctions committees. On 13 August 2010, the Committee updated the list of individuals subject to targeted sanctions by adding to the designation justification in nine cases recruitment and use of children “according to the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.”
The Somalia sanctions regime, first established in 1992, is the oldest continuing sanctions regime. Individually targeted sanctions, however, were added to the range of measures available to the sanctions committee only in November 2008 through resolution 1844 . It imposes targeted measures on individuals or entities designated by the Somalia Sanctions Committee “as obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance in Somalia.” In spite of the extremely difficult humanitarian access situation in Somalia in 2009, no designations based on this criterion (or any other criteria) were made by the sanctions committee in that year.
In 2009 the Monitoring Group briefed the Somalia Sanctions Committee regularly and presented a draft list of individuals and entities to be considered for targeted sanctions. In its March 2010 report to the Sanctions Committee, the Group concluded that humanitarian assistance was hindered by the extremely difficult security situation and also by large-scale diversion of food aid to contractors and insurgents. On 12 April 2010, the Committee announced the first nine designations under resolution 1844. The justification for one of these, the designation of the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab, was obstruction of humanitarian assistance.
It is not clear why the Committee had such difficulty for such a long time in making any progress on designations. While delays in establishing the Monitoring Group may have played a role, Council members themselves seemed to emphasise concerns about due process and time consuming domestic procedures as a key factor, but preoccupation with other issues such as Somali piracy and the adoption of sanctions against Eritrea likely also played a role.
The Security Council first imposed an arms embargo on all non-governmental entities and individuals operating in Darfur in July 2004. That scope was later expanded and additional measures were imposed in 2005, including a travel ban and an assets freeze on individuals designated by the Committee. Among individuals to whom the sanctions could apply, are those “who commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities”. The Council has placed specific individuals on the sanctions list only once, in April 2006. Four individuals were listed through a separate Council resolution rather than a consensual decision of its sanctions committee. One of these was designated for violations of international humanitarian law. There were no new designations in 2009 or in 2010, and the sanctions list therefore remains unchanged since April 2006.
In its report to the Council in October 2009 the Panel of Experts monitoring the sanctions regime for Sudan concluded that widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict in Darfur had continued. In the area of international humanitarian law the report focused in particular on attacks against civilians, recruitment of child soldiers and failure to protect civilians and also noted the prevalence of sexual violence against women. The report observed an increase in attacks against those opposing government policies following the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March 2009 against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
In spite of this information, no Council member proposed adding new names and the only action taken by the Council in 2009 was the extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts for another 12 months in resolution 1891 adopted in October 2009.
4.4 Country-Specific Reporting on Protection of Civilians by the Secretary-General
In our second cross-cutting report on protection of civilians we noted that almost all of the Secretary-General’s 2008 reports to the Council on situations with a protection dimension did indeed contain either information, recommendations or observations pertaining to the situation for civilians. However, we also found that there was little consistency in the reporting, either in terms of how the information was presented or the kinds of data included.
In 2009 this pattern persisted. The Secretary-General issued a total of 98 reports of which 51 could reasonably be expected to address protection of civilians issues. This was comparable to the numbers in 2008 when the Council received 95 reports of which 48 addressed country-specific situations with a protection dimension. With a few exceptions, including special reports on elections (Afghanistan, Sudan) and piracy (Somalia), almost all of the 51 reports contained references to protection issues. However, the reporting approach varied significantly across situations and sometimes also between reports from the same mission.
Very few reports in 2009 had separate sections on protection of civilians.
Only one mission, MONUC, had separate sections on protection of civilians in all of its 2009 reports, four in total. This represented a change from 2008, when none of the MONUC reports had such a separate section although they still had a strong focus on the situation for civilians and other protection issues.
There were no major changes in the other reports. As in 2008 three of the four UNMIS reports issued in 2009 had separate protection of civilians sections. (In addition there was also a special report on Sudan elections, which as noted earlier, did not address protection issues.) In the case of Somalia, as in previous years all of the regular reports had separate sections on human rights and protection of civilians, whereas the four other reports on Somalia dealing with specific issues, such as piracy and contingency planning for a UN peacekeeping mission, did not.
In addition to these, one of the four reports on Afghanistan issued in 2009 had a separate section on protection of civilians whereas two reports addressed protection issues in a section on human rights. (In addition, there was a special report on elections that did not address protection issues.) In 2008 there were only two regular reports on Afghanistan and both of them had a separate protection section.
But there was still a strong focus on protection issues.
While most reports did not have a separate section on protection of civilians, relevant issues were extensively covered in many other sections, including in sections on human rights, the humanitarian situation, gender, child protection and return and reintegration of refugees. Normally, there were also in these cases references to protection issues in the sections comprising the Secretary-General’s observations.
The most noteworthy exception was perhaps the Secretary-General’s report on “peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”. While expressing concern for the situation for civilians it had a very limited focus on protection issues.
The type of information provided on the situation for civilians varied significantly.
Reports on Afghanistan offered detailed information on the impact of the conflict on civilians. The exact number of civilian casualties and whether these were caused by insurgents or by international or Afghan national forces were recorded. (The information was the same whether under the heading “Protection of Civilians” or “Human Rights”.) In addition, UNAMA issued a mid-year bulletin in September 2009, as well as an annual report on protection of civilians which provided even more detailed information on the impact of the conflict on civilians.
Reports on MINURCAT also provided fairly detailed information, including on the number of refugees, IDPs, recruitment of children and sexual violence. Other reports, including those on Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, were perhaps less detailed but also offered extensiv