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Calls For Working Group On Protection Of Civilians

Ban Ki-moon calls for Security Council working group on protection of civilians

Deploring the "dreadful toll" that civilians continue to pay in armed conflicts around the world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Security Council to establish a working group dedicated to improving protection for civilians in such situations.

Mr. Ban told a Council debate on the protection of civilians that it was time for United Nations Member States to translate their promises from the 2005 World Summit on the "responsibility to protect" from word into deed.

Although the Council passed a resolution last year on the protection of civilians, he said it was vital to introduce more measures to implement that resolution and "ensure timely action when populations face, genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity."

Mr. Ban said the creation of a working group was "an important next step, perhaps even an inevitable next step, in the evolution of the Council's consideration of the protection of civilians.

"It would not only underline the Council's commitment to this cause. It would give practical meaning to your commitment. It would ensure more timely and systematic consideration of the protection of civilians in the Council's deliberations."

In his speech the Secretary-General said it was fitting that the Council was holding such a debate today given that it was the anniversary of the opening in 1945 of the Nuremberg trials for the major war criminals of Nazi Germany.

"They had a profound influence on the development of international law. They had an important bearing on the notion of individual criminal responsibility for atrocities committed against civilians in armed conflict. They underlined that, even in war, certain acts are unacceptable."

However, Mr. Ban noted that 62 years later civilians continue to suffer in conflicts, especially in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, adding that the plight of children was "particularly disturbing."

In addition, Mr. Ban called for extra measures to ensure the safe, timely and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need as a result of conflicts, and for UN peacekeeping operations to be given the necessary resources and political support to ensure they can implement their mandates and protect civilians.


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