Press Clip Source: Linkedin
Written By:Ufuk Gokcen, Ambassador to the United Nations for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 
Date: September 16, 2015
Read Original Article: Here


It was a great honor for me to co-sponsor and support the Nonviolent Peaceforce and IPI event on unarmed civilian protection organized at the IPI in New York on 15 September 2015.

Protection of civilians from violence in conflicts is a growing challenge for the international community. Inadequacy of existing mechanisms and approaches in dealing with peace and security challenges compel us consider utilization of all the tools available and create synergy among them.

Unarmed protection of civilians by civilians is relatively a new concept and tool that has recently being recognized by the UN and the international system, though the UN peacekeeping operations had always had unarmed components. Following the acknowledgment by the HIPPO report, I believe events like the one hosted by IPI will help raise awareness on the importance of the concept and the existing efforts.

Naturally the application of the concept requires the acceptance and the cooperation of the sovereign states and this concept may not be applicable in every conflict. However we should realize that there are many successful examples, from Philippines, Sri Lanka to Africa.

As a core group member and supporter of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, I have three observations:

Firstly, we should benefit from the potentials of religious leaders in protection of civilians. Secondly, protecting religious leaders themselves and insider mediators as well as religious minorities in vulnerable situations is a dire necessity. Thirdly, there is a need to raise awareness among the peacebuilding community and peace practitioners about the concept and application of unarmed civilian protection of civilians.

If we want the UN system to be better and function better in meeting peace and security challenges, we have to empower the civil society and create space for its initiatives and then we should integrate them into the international peace and security structures. The same proposition is also valid for the sustainable development field. We should realize that without encouraging, empowering and cooperating with the civil society, intergovernmental organizations and states cannot deal with the enormous challenges that the international community is facing today.

If you missed it the policy forum on "Unarmed Approaches to Protecting Civilians" is now available to watch at


You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.