Global conference examines protection of civilians under international humanitarian law

on . Posted in Peacekeeping

The Training for Peace Programme at ACCORD (TfP/ACCORD) has participated in a global conference on Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The conference, organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided a forum for member states, military experts, and humanitarian and civil society organizations to discuss and review practical recommendations that will address various challenges in protecting civilians in armed conflict, and to further promote respect and compliance of IHL, and minimize civilian causality by all parties to a conflict.

The conference was organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the government of Argentina, Austria, Indonesia, and Uganda, from the 23-24 May 2013 in Oslo, Norway. The Conference on Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians Under International Humanitarian Law aim to achieve a broad agreement on a number of practical measures and recommendations which will effectively improve the situation of civilians in armed conflict, as well as possible incentive to improve the respect for IHL by the parties to the conflict. In attendance were practitioners from International humanitarian Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs), states representatives from across the world, military experts, civil society organizations, and United Nations (UN) agencies. These included the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Civil society organizations present include; Human Rights Watch, Geneva Call, International Federation of Journalist, and Action on Armed Violence. The programme was represented by Ms Olivia Victoria Davies – Peacekeeping Unit Programme Officer.

The conference focuses on identifying concrete measures that should be taken by the parties to the conflict to protect civilians - both during and after hostilities, and explore ways in which individual states, humanitarian actors, civil society and other relevant actors can work towards reducing the consequences of the impact of armed conflict on civilians. The deliberations help to improve the understanding and respect of IHL by all representatives, and paved the way towards addressing the gap between policy and practice in the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

TfP ACCORD contributed to the discussions on: the main challenges facing civilians in the field; the reduction of harm against civilians in military operations; the strengthening of protection provided by humanitarian actors to civilians in armed conflict; improving respect for IHL during warfare situation; and the need for the documentation and monitoring of hostilities on civilians, in order to strengthening accountability.

The recommendations emanated from the workshop addressed key challenges faced in the protection of civilians, and identify practical measures to be taken by all actors involved in the process. This initiative will greatly contribute to further reduce civilian casualty in the conduct of military operations.