What's In Blue

Posted Thu 30 Nov 2017

Arria-formula Meeting on Unarmed Approaches for the Protection of Civilians

Tomorrow (1 December) there will be a closed Arria-formula meeting on unarmed approaches for the protection of civilians hosted by Uruguay, Senegal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Briefings will be provided by Namie Di Razza, a post-doctoral fellow at the International Peace Institute, a think tank that focuses on peace, security and development issues; Tiffany Easthom, the Executive Director of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, a global non-profit organisation that protects civilians in violent conflict through unarmed strategies; Kudzanai Marivirira, who is a team leader with the Nonviolent Peaceforce in Bentiu, South Sudan; a high-level representative of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and David Haeri, the Director of the Evaluation, Policy and Training Division in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In addition to the briefers and the current Council members, the six incoming members (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Netherlands, Kuwait, Peru and Poland) and Switzerland, the chair of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians, are expected to participate in the meeting.

The meeting is expected to be informal and interactive and provide for an open exchange of ideas related to unarmed protection approaches. Di Razza is expected to elaborate on the full spectrum of military, police and civilian tools available to UN peacekeepers, while emphasising the importance of non-military tools in protecting civilians and highlighting the need for protection approaches to be linked to political strategies. The representatives of the Nonviolent Peaceforce are expected to share their experiences as practitioners of unarmed civilian protection in the field. The UN officials will most likely discuss how unarmed protection approaches are important to the UN’s work, while member states will be encouraged to ask questions, react to the presentations and offer their insights on the issue.

Unarmed approaches for protecting civilians sustain peace through community engagement, capacity-building of local civil society, relationship-building, and women’s leadership. Among other things, unarmed protection strategies include supporting local-level dispute resolution mechanisms; engaging in community policing; training people to monitor, verify and report ceasefire violations; and training women peacekeepers. While these approaches are not applicable to every conflict situation, they can in certain cases complement armed peacekeeping.

A concept note circulated in preparation for the meeting observes that unarmed approaches for the protection of civilians “should be better understood by the Security Council so that they can, when and where appropriate, be recommended, applied and scaled up.” The concept note states that the meeting will provide members with a forum in which to learn where unarmed approaches have been successful; how they can be employed in peacekeeping contexts; and why they are important to the UN system.

Along these lines, it outlines several objectives of the meeting. These include raising awareness and understanding among Council members of the different types of unarmed protection approaches; exploring how members can engage with other UN and civil society actors on these approaches; and providing an opportunity for them to discuss how peacekeeping operations can collaborate with unarmed actors and communities to foster joint protection strategies.

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