Statement by H.E Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti,
Permanent Representative of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the United Nations†
Open Debate of the Security Council
on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
22 November 2010
I would like to thank Undersecretaries-General Valerie Amos and Alain Le Roy, High Commissioner Navi Pillay and the Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord, for their briefings.
I also express my appreciation to the Secretary-General for his in-depth report. It provides a useful overview of the progress made and challenges found in protecting civilians in the last eighteen months and contains many important recommendations. We are pleased that the Council has taken up a number of them in the Presidential Statement adopted today.
Among the several aspects of a wide-ranging issue such as protection of civilians, I would like to focus my comments today on three points: reporting, peacekeeping, and the root causes of conflict.
Comprehensive though they may be, periodic reports by the Secretary-General on protection of civilians cannot provide information detailed enough on protection aspects of all agenda items where such aspects are of concern. Brazil would therefore welcome more information on protection issues in the Secretary-Generalís country-specific reports to the Council, as mentioned by the Permanent Representative of Austria as well.
Such enhanced reporting could also use information already available to the UN and currently shared in a more limited and informal fashion, for instance, with the Security Council expert group. Broadening and deepening the treatment of protection issues in the country-specific reports by the Secretary-General will also allow for protection information to be disseminated to the wider membership.
I reiterate the great importance Brazil attaches to the protection of civilians by peacekeepers. I also reaffirm our firm belief that protection of civilians is a multidimensional task that must be pursued by all mission components in the field, and by both DPKO and DFS in Headquarters. The breadth of protection of civilians mandates is such that fulfilling them as completely or as perfectly as one would like will always be challenging. Yet every effort must continue to be made to ensure that peacekeeping missions have the capabilities and resources they need to discharge their protection responsibilities as effectively as possible.
My delegation very much appreciates the emphasis given in the Presidential Statement adopted today to the critical issue of communication between peacekeepers and local populations. A positive, two-way dialogue is an indispensable element of a comprehensive and effective protection strategy. Valuable resources such as UN radio stations and town hall meetings must be used more consistently and in an integrated, mutually reinforcing manner. Moreover, for protection strategies to work, the information gathered from dialogue with the local population must feed into effective information management and crisis response mechanisms. The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a case that quickly comes to mind in that regard. The production of intelligence to inform protection strategies is vital. Without intelligence, operations will be limited to reacting and responding to events.
One of the main challenges in effectively protecting civilians is balancing the imperatives of immediate protection - such as defending civilians from physical violence or ensuring humanitarian access - with attention to long-term protection. In many cases, this means combining traditional peacekeeping with political and economic tools to address the root causes of conflict.
In this context, my delegation welcomes and agrees with the Secretary-Generalís emphasis on the role of housing, land, natural resources and property issues in conflicts. Addressing such critical issues is key to achieving sustainable peace and development, which is, in the long term, the best way of ensuring the protection of civilians. While those are fundamentally internal issues, and the legal basis for the Council to address them directly is narrow, as they are not explicitly security issues, the international community must be prepared to give political, material, and technical support to their resolution in conflict and post-conflict situations in order to enhance the prospects of sustainable peace.
After a decade of experience, we are still struggling to effectively protect civilians in armed conflicts. While recognizing the progress made in defining policy and building a framework for the protection of civilians, we concur with the Secretary General, along with Mr. Yves Daccord, that we must now redouble efforts in enhancing protection on the ground.