Protection of Civilians
Expected Council Action
In September, Albania is planning to convene an open debate titled “Advancing Public-Private Humanitarian Partnership” under the “Maintenance of international peace and security” agenda item. Olta Xhaçka, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, will chair the meeting. The expected briefers are Cindy H. McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP); Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures—a philanthropic venture that funds science and technology research; Michael Miebach, CEO of Mastercard; and a civil society representative.
No outcome is anticipated.
Key Recent Developments and Background
According to the Secretary-General’s latest annual report on the protection of civilians (PoC), dated 12 May, the UN recorded at least 16,988 civilian deaths across 12 armed conflicts in 2022, a 53 percent increase compared with 2021. Conflict situations where civilian casualties increased include Ukraine, Somalia, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, while certain contexts such as Yemen and Syria saw decreases. Harms suffered by civilians included death and injury, enforced disappearance, torture, rape, ill-treatment, psychological trauma, and forced displacement. Children remained particularly vulnerable to killing, abduction, displacement, and recruitment across a range of conflict situations, while women and girls accounted for at least 95 percent of victims of documented sexual violence. Humanitarian action continued to face overlapping impediments ranging from violence, bureaucratic hurdles, sanctions, and counter-terrorism measures to shortages and rising costs of essential supplies, including food, medicine, and fuel.
The UN’s 2023 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) July update said that $55.2 billion was required to assist 248 million people in need. The gap between financial requirements and resources was $41 billion, slightly down from the $43 billion recorded in the June update, which was the highest ever gap and more than double the entire requirements of the GHO ($20 billion) in 2016.
Against this backdrop, the concept note that Albania has prepared for the September open debate says that local, regional, and multinational private sector enterprises have become increasingly important actors in humanitarian response operations since the 2005 reform of the UN humanitarian architecture. This trend accelerated following the adoption of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include SDG 17 on “partnerships for the goals,” aiming to revitalise global partnerships for sustainable development. More recently, in 2022, Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Muraikhi of Qatar as his Special Adviser on Public-Private Partnerships and Islamic Social Finance. Al Muraikhi previously served as the Secretary-General’s humanitarian envoy from 2016 to 2019.
Albania’s concept note highlights technology as a particularly important area of cooperation between the private sector and UN humanitarian agencies. Technological innovation driven by the private sector has created efficiencies in the humanitarian system, increasing the efficiency of donor funding to maximise life-saving interventions and scaling impact in conflict-afflicted areas. Technology sector platforms also continue to inform multilateral policy in areas such as disease outbreak data collection, climate change forecasting, and early warning systems, among others. In addition, private logistics and freight-forwarding companies are integrated into UN-led operations and routinely expedite delivery of aid in conflict settings.
The September open debate will seek to identify and advance public-private partnership solutions to promote international peace and security by addressing current and future humanitarian needs. Among other issues, it may provide member states with an opportunity to consider how private sector partnerships with UN humanitarian actors have contributed to the maintenance of peace and security; how the UN-led humanitarian response architecture can address conflict-induced humanitarian needs through enhanced public-private partnership structures; and what role private sector finance, logistics, and technology can play in scaling and improving efforts by the UN and its partners to respond to conflict-driven humanitarian needs.
While the September open debate appears to be the first Council meeting on public-private partnerships in the context of humanitarian action, in March 2022, the Council convened a ministerial-level open debate on such partnerships in relation to the women, peace and security agenda. The debate, which was convened by the UAE presidency, was titled “Advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda through partnerships: Women’s economic inclusion and participation as a key to building peace”. (For more, see our What’s In Blue story of 7 March 2022).
UN DOCUMENTS ON PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS
|12 MAY 2023S/2023/345||This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.|