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In 1999, the Security Council first requested a dedicated report by the UN Secretary-General on the protection of civilians (POC) in armed conflict, followed by the adoption of a Security Council resolution (S/RES/1265) to highlight ways to protect civilian populations in armed conflict.

At the normative level, significant progress has been achieved with respect to the protection of civilians over the past decade, but this progress has not consistently translated into more effective and better-coordinated protection efforts on the ground. To this end, the Secretary-General identified five core challenges in his 2009 POC report to the SC:

  • Enhancing compliance of parties to the conflict with their obligations under international law, in particular the conduct of hostilities
  • Engagement with non-State armed groups (NSAGs)
  • Protecting civilians through UN peacekeeping and other relevant missions
  • Humanitarian access
  • Enhancing accountability for violations

At the global level, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) promotes POC through support to the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) mandate, including by:

  • Drafting the biennial report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on POC
  • Preparing ERC’s biannual POC briefing to the Security Council
  • Providing periodic country-specific POC briefings to the SC’s informal POC Expert Group
  • Providing normative guidance, e.g. the Aide Memoire
  • Commissioning studies, e.g. the joint OCHA/Department for Peacekeeping Operations study on ‘POC in the context of peacekeeping operations’