December 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2006
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Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Expected Council Action
On 4 December, the Council will receive an open briefing from Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, followed by an open debate.  No formal Council action is expected.

Egeland is expected to address a number of conflicts with a sustained high level of violence and the need to optimise the role of peacekeeping missions in protecting civilians.  He is likely to call for more prompt action by the Council, without differentiation on the basis of political considerations. He may also stress that momentum should not be lost on the responsibility to protect.

In a departure from recent practice, the adoption of a presidential or press statement seems unlikely.

Key Issues
An ongoing issue for the Council has been the practical incorporation into country-specific resolutions of general principles concerning protection of civilians.  Generally, although not consistently, the Council has tried to include them when establishing or revising mandates. 

A related issue is ensuring that the updated and comprehensive framework of past resolutions is always at the fore. Resolution 1674, which reaffirmed the responsibility to protect, on 28 April consolidated previous resolutions 1265 and 1296, but all three resolutions remain important.  A further issue is the status of the principle “the responsibility to protect.”  How to best implement this principle remains an important question.  Not all members were keen on affirming it in a Council resolution, but interest in clarifying or elaborating the principle continues to be expressed.  For more details on resolution 1674, please refer to our December 2005 Monthly Forecast and 13 January8 March and 20 April 2006 Update Reports.

Council Dynamics
There is broad agreement at the thematic level on the importance of the protection of civilians in armed conflict, but sharp differences have emerged in terms of the issue in specific situations during 2006, notably the conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza.  However, some members are not keen on thematic debates.

UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1674 (28 April 2006) reaffirmed the responsibility to protect as formulated in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document.
  • S/RES/1296 (19 April 2000) emphasised the importance for humanitarian organisations to uphold the principles of neutrality and humanity in their humanitarian activities.
  • S/RES/1265 (17 September 1999) expressed the Council’s willingness to take measures to protect civilians in armed conflict and to consider how peacekeeping mandates might better address the negative impact of conflict on civilians.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2005/740 (28 November 2005) recommended the Council adopt a new resolution to reflect the new challenges to the protection of civilians.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2005/25 (21 June 2005) expressed the Council’s concern about limited progress on the ground to ensure the effective protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict.

Previous Reports on the Protection of Civilians

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