New York

10 June 2016

Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council Debate on the Protection of Civilians [as delivered]

Je vous remercie de cette opportunité de faire le point sur ce sujet important.
This is the right moment to address the contributions of United Nations peace operations to the protection of civilians.
My last report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict underlines the urgent need for concrete measures and makes recommendations to that end. Enhancing the protection of civilians was a key focus of the World Humanitarian Summit and the Agenda for Humanity. It was one of the dominant themes to emerge from the recent reviews of peace operations, the peacebuilding architecture, and the Women, Peace and Security framework.
These reports, reviews and events all stressed the political, legal, moral and operational imperative of protecting civilians, and the primary responsibility of national authorities.
They underscored the modest but vital role that UN peace operations can play in protecting civilians. And they stressed the need for a concerted effort by this Council, Member States and the United Nations Secretariat to further strengthen this contribution. 
Protecting civilians is an over-arching responsibility involving all the critical functions of the United Nations: human rights, humanitarian, political and peacekeeping.
In the same way, peacekeeping operations are most effective in protecting civilians when protection is considered a mission-wide activity, driven by a sound political strategy.
The political engagement of civilian staff and their dialogue with parties to conflict, affected communities and partners is essential.
Civilian staff also monitor and investigate abuses – which is the only basis for accountability.
Likewise, United Nations Police make an important contribution. UN Police are currently protecting tens of thousands of internally displaced people at peacekeeping missions in South Sudan.
I urge this Council to give precedence to political strategy and whole-of-mission approaches when you consider mandates to protect civilians. These can be even more critical than military assets and troop numbers.
The United Nations Secretariat is working to support you in this by providing better analysis of threats, and better advice and recommendations on the most effective course of action, depending on the context.
As I told the General Assembly yesterday, we are reviewing our administrative and logistical procedures to see how we can best support peace operations, and looking at policies to make us more flexible and responsive.
The Secretariat is also doing its utmost to support missions through a renewed focus on performance and accountability.
We will continue our efforts to prevent and address abuses committed by peacekeepers.
Working with troop and police contributors, we are generating peacekeeping forces and police in a way that matches capabilities with requirements.
We need troops that speak the right languages, bring the right technology and equipment, and have the right skills and training, in the right places.
Member States have a critical role here, in contributing troops and police who are ready, willing and able to take up protection duties. The Kigali Principles set out critical benchmarks for troop and police contributing countries, and I urge all to endorse them.
We also rely on the Security Council to set mandates that are in line with resources, and to use your influence to increase those resources in certain circumstances.
Protecting civilians is a United Nations system-wide responsibility. But the primary responsibility lies with parties to the conflict, non-belligerent States, and this Council.
My Agenda for Humanity, drawn up as the framework for the World Humanitarian Summit, sets out core responsibilities, principles, courses of action and ambitious targets for all, to improve the protection of civilians.
At the Summit, Governments, NGOs, UN agencies and others pledged to take concrete actions to implement this Agenda. Later this year, I will report to the United Nations General Assembly and propose ways to take these commitments forward.
We must also look outside the United Nations and increase our engagement with civil society, non-governmental organizations and regional partners.
In the Central African Republic, for example, the United Nations has been coordinating a group of international partners, including the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States, to promote stability and security.
We will also continue pressing Governments and parties to conflict to uphold their protection responsibilities, comply with international law, and take precautions to prevent harm to civilians, for example, by minimizing the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Governments and parties to conflict also have an obligation to provide for the basic needs of civilians in conflict. When they fail to do so, they should facilitate principled humanitarian assistance by humanitarian organizations.
Many parties are failing to live up to these obligations, and it is essential that we use all the means at our disposal to hold them accountable.
The United Nations is determined to work collectively to support Governments to protect their people, and to persuade parties to conflict to abide by their obligations.
But even the most effective peacekeeping can never protect every civilian from harm.
No amount of strategy, resources or accountability will mitigate the grave and tragic consequences of war for ordinary women, children and men.
The ultimate solution to protecting civilians in conflict is finding sustainable political solutions, based on the rule of law and human rights standards.
That is the core responsibility of this Council, and I urge you to exercise it.
Thank you. Merci beaucoup.