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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
H.E. MR. LAURO L. BAJA, JR.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

during the
Security Council Open Debate

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS

Security Council Chamber, 14 December 2004


Mr. President,

We are honored that you are presiding over the Council on this important issue of protection of civilians and thank your delegation for convening this open debate. I also thank the Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Jan Egeland, for presenting an update on protection issues in conflict situations and for stressing the challenges and recommended actions.

Mr. President,

The continued and worsening suffering of many civilians today is an unacceptable irony to the advances man has achieved in the new millennium. Just as collective efforts in commerce and information technology have benefited mankind, collective efforts are also essential in responding to the various protection challenges that are bound to affect various societies. Three major points will give a fresh perspective to this issue, namely, a system-wide approach; more proactivity and domestic ownership of a culture of protection.

A system-wide approach

My delegation is happy to note that the Security Council appears to have accepted the link between security and human rights and the growing consciousness within the United Nations about the crucial importance of a coherent and system-wide response to the situation of affected civilians. No one organ or entity of the UN has a monopoly to an effective response. The work of the Council on the issue should, therefore, effectively integrate with the work of other entities in the organization, particularly with those of the General Assembly, the ECOSOC, the specialized agencies and in applicable cases, non-government organizations and civil society. In this regard, we cannot overemphasize the value of the “Roadmap for the Protection of Civilians” which lays out the responsibilities of all concerned UN entities. We call for a periodic assessment, to be possibly led by the Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, of the progress by various concerned UN organs and agencies in the discharge of their mandates in this area. This information could very well feed into the enhanced and accurate reporting and monitoring framework and could also provide valuable input for the review of the Millennium Declaration which identified the theme of “Protecting the Vulnerable” as a priority.

More proactivity, less reactiveness

Mr. President,

The report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change stresses the need for the UN organs, including the Security Council to be more proactive in its work. Indeed, my delegation believes that this recommendation cuts across all the issues within the purview of the Council, including its work on the protection of civilians. It may be observed that the greater part of the UN’s work in protecting civilians are “after the fact” operations that are mainly reactive responses to crises. Although it is understandable that work in protecting civilians happens more often during or after a conflict, there should be more effort in protecting civilians in the face of imminent conflict. This proactive way of protecting people will save more lives and reduce their vulnerability to the grim consequences of conflict. Specific strategies would entail a more systematic incorporation of protection issues in the planning of all peace support operations to include procedures, among others, to detect and prevent sexual and gender-based violence, mitigate the negative consequences of displacement and curb the use of small arms to perpetuate conflict.

Of course, most fundamentally, proactiveness in the protection of civilians is in the prevention of conflict. Pivotal to meeting the challenges of preventing conflict and related security threats is the analysis and response to the root causes of conflict. As observed by the High-level panel in its report, the lack of development undermines peace and security. The Panel also emphasized that development is vital in preventing the erosion of the capacity of States in meeting the threats to security and constitutes the way towards sustainable peace and security in the long-term. The UN is auspiciously placed in a position to forge regional networks of cooperation and support in order to ensure the protection of civilians at all stages of conflict, more favorably, at its pre-eruption stages. The work that the Council undertakes in harnessing regional and sub-regional cooperation contributes to achieving a proactive strategy in the protection of civilians. The role of humanitarian organizations has been acknowledged and will continue to be vital in the future. Unimpeded access to civilians in this regard is important.

Towards domestic ownership of a culture of protection

Mr. President,

Like many other principles and systems, a culture of protection of civilians can not be imposed on any society. To be truly imbibed, there should be genuine domestic ownership of a culture of protection. Nevertheless, the international community needs to engage in emergency conflict situations where there is a lack of willingness or capacity of States to protect civilians. The UN should lead efforts in building capacity of wanting States and in facilitating the mobilization of needed resources. Along this line, peacekeeping operations should have more robust human rights components focusing on children and women/gender issues. When the Security Council facilitates in enabling concerned States to effectively respond to crises and ensure respect and adherence to the principles of international law, it promotes domestic ownership of a culture of protection. UN country teams and peace missions can also play a role in facilitating the devolution of a culture of protection from the national level to the local levels of society. Here again, the reports, briefings and proposals of various humanitarian organizations will be of immense value.

Mr. President,

The agenda for the protection of civilians requires sustained and pragmatic commitment. The efforts of the UN will not be judged merely on the adequacy and comprehensiveness of international norms that it develops, but more on whether or not its work is utilizing the best way to save and protect the most number of lives. Political will among all concerned should be heightened and translated into tangible strategies to improve the environment of protection for all civilians. This would best be implemented in areas such as Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Cote d’Ivoire. We are happy to note that protection issues are firmly in the Council’s radar screen.

I thank you.









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