“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.
The panel, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last October, was charged with reviewing all UN peace operations and to be bold and courageous in recommending how the UN could effectively respond to the changing nature of war and the increased number of civilians in need of protection. The fifteen-member panel spent the last seven months circling the globe reviewing present operations and seeking new approaches. It has been 15 years since the UN undertook such a comprehensive peace operations review.
"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 of those brave people working in the field, unarmed, in protection of civilians," said Panel chair José Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Timor Leste.
They include in their 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.
“The world is changing and U.N. peace operations must change if they are to remain an indispensable and effective tool in promoting international peace and security,” observed Mr. Ramos Horta.
With respect to protecting civilians, the Panel recommends that:
In view of the positive contributions of unarmed civilian protection actors, missions should work more closely with local communities and national and international non-governmental organizations in building 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.”
Mr. Ramos Horta has chosen to name the report in honor of Nyakhat Pal, a three year old girl from South Sudan who in April led her blind father for four hours through land mine strewn bush to a UNICEF/World Food Program food and vaccination center (http://blogs.unicef.org/2014/04/22/a-lesson-in-bravery-nyakhats-story/)
These recommendations are especially urgent because of the growing number of civilians vulnerable to armed conflict. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in their annual report entitled World at War (http://unhcr.org/556725e69.html#_ga=1.93348955.736024079.1434640889) 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.
The report continues:
During 2014, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere.
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.”
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