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Protection of Civilians Project

The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Project plays a key role in PDSB’s efforts to support the humanitarian policy agenda and to foster strategic and operational coherence within the United Nations Secretariat and the IASC. The Secretary-General has entrusted OCHA to lead and coordinate efforts to advance the protection agenda.

In 2005, the project aimed to: actively engage with the Security Council, other UN Member States and regional organisations to strengthen the protection framework, promote compliance with legal standards and norms, and improve response at the political level; and promote strategic coordination within the UN system, including the provision of training, advocacy and information management support.

In 2005, OCHA also played an active role in the work of the Protection Cluster established under the Humanitarian Response Review.

Key objectives

  • Broaden the protection dialogue to include additional key constituencies through increased engagement with governments and regional organisations on the development of their protection policies and response
  • Provide training and policy advice to colleagues at headquarters and in the field, particularly RC/HCs, OCHA heads of office and desk officers, in order to enable them to provide appropriate protection-related support services
  • Develop tools, such as a collaborative monitoring and reporting mechanism.

The establishment of the cluster approach as part of the Humanitarian Review Process led to a modification of the role of OCHA in supporting protection services at some field locations.While OCHA will continue to support protection response in the field, with the designation of clear lead agencies for protection OCHA will provide coordination support to the protection cluster.


During 2005, the project promoted the protection agenda in the Security Council through thematic briefings on the protection of civilians, the incorporation of protection issues into situation-specific briefings, and assistance in the preparation of the Secretary-General’s Fifth Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in November.

The project continued its outreach work with Member States and with regional and other intergovernmental organisations. A notable result was the adoption at the 6th High-level Meeting between the Secretary-General and the Heads of Regional and other Inter-Governmental Organisations in July of a joint work plan for strengthening cooperation on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. This plan envisages closer cooperation on networking and promotion of the protection agenda, as well as the development of protection policy frameworks, practical guidance and tools for use by regional and other inter-governmental organisations.

These initiatives complemented continuing work within the Secretariat, with UN Agencies through ECHA and the IASC, and, especially, support to the newly-established Protection Cluster. Efforts to broaden support for the protection of civilians agenda, develop a more effective protection framework and strengthen field response included support to peacekeeping missions, training, workshops, round tables and policy guidance.

OCHA’s work with the Security Council, Member States, DPKO and DPA resulted in the integration of protection concepts into peacekeeping and peace-building efforts. Several field support missions were undertaken, most notably to DRC and Sudan, in an attempt to strengthen implementation of the protection agenda in peacekeeping and peace-building missions.

The basic framework for the development of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on protection of civilians in armed conflict was established through close collaboration with humanitarian partners. The protection components to be reported upon were agreed, and efforts were made to incorporate the reporting mechanism for children in armed conflict.

OCHA convened the first in a series of roundtables that examined the implementation of the protection mandate of the United Nations Organisation Mission to the DRC (MONUC). That identified key challenges to implementation of the protection mandate and highlighted new approaches being adopted to strengthen collaboration between the mission and the humanitarian community. It also examined efforts to develop a robust protection framework. It is intended that observations and recommendations from the roundtable will be used to develop practical guidance for current and future peacekeeping missions.

The project provided training, workshops and targeted policy support in an effort to strengthen the protection of civilians. Training was provided to heads of OCHA country/regional offices and IASC partners in Africa, as well as to RC/HCs. In a workshop on the Northern Caucasus held in Nazran in March, over 60 participants representing all stakeholders addressed post-conflict protection concerns.

These training activities, along with policy guidance provided to RC/HCs, OCHA field staff and desk officers, facilitated the development and/or strengthening of country-specific protection strategies, such as in Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Specific training modules were developed for various target groups, including OCHA staff and RC/HCs, forming the basis of a protection training kit to be developed and field-tested in 2006.

The collaborative development of a global monitoring and reporting mechanism to facilitate analysis of trends, as well as subsequent decision-making by the Security Council and other stakeholders, advanced in 2005.Working together with the ECHA Implementation Group on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, a work plan was developed, an inventory of existing reporting mechanisms was undertaken, and the core protection components that will be reported against were agreed. Work will continue in 2006.

This effort was complemented by the development of country-level incident reporting mechanisms established in the DRC, Somalia and Sudan.

Performance evaluation

Sixty-two UN Member States incorporated protection of civilians elements into their national policies by ratifying key international treaties and/or by developing specific policies or frameworks during 2005. Further to support from OCHA for regional organisations, 21 regional and other intergovernmental organisations adopted a joint work plan with the UN for promoting the protection of civilians in armed conflict, particularly encouraged by the work done by the AU, ECOWAS and the Mano River Union.

Staff in all 14 OCHA country and regional offices in Africa, along with staff of several partner agencies, were trained in and provided with tools on protection of civilians in armed conflict, enabling them to incorporate protection appropriately into their work and provide direct protection support at the field level.




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