policy development

Protection of Civilians Section


The protection of civilians in armed conflict is a key aspect of PDSB’s work in supporting the humanitarian policy agenda
and fostering strategic and operational coherence with the Secretariat, the IASC and Member States. In working with OCHA’s Coordination and Response Division and the Displacement and Protection Support Section, the Protection of Civilians Section (POCS) carries out political advocacy, and helps provide advice to the field and develop best practices. It also supports the Emergency Relief Coordinator in reporting to the Security Council and Member States on key protection concerns. POCS carries out analysis of protection concerns and trends in OCHA’s priority countries, and assists in the development of country-specific strategies to respond to prevailing challenges, including through workshops with the key parties to conflict and improved protection measures for civilians.

Since the Secretary-General’s first report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict released in 1999, significant
progress has been made in developing and mainstreaming the protection agenda. Eight years on, as civilians still
continue to bear the brunt of conflict, the key challenge lies in turning this normative framework into enhanced protection on the ground, including through more systematic and institutionalized interaction with the United Nations Security Council as well as with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA). In 2008 POCS will continue to focus on: strengthening the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1674 on the protection of civilians; following up on the sixth Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict; developing an updated Aide Memoire on Issues Pertaining to the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict; and enhancing practical protection responses to safeguard civilians. At the global level, efforts will be made to translate into practice the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s sixth Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict by working more strategically with Member States and the Security Council on broadening constituencies. Initiatives are already underway to develop more systematic monitoring and reporting on restrictions to humanitarian access. A joint study is also planned with the DPKO to examine how the protection elements of peacekeeping mandates have been implemented by peacekeeping operations, and to assess their practical impact on the ground.

At the regional level, POCS will continue its work with regional organizations to strengthen their capacity to address protection concerns, building on the first phase of engagement which culminated in a sub-regional workshop in Dakar in April 2007. In 2008 the Section will provide support to regional organizations (such as the African Union and the League of Arab States) in developing their own comprehensive policy papers to guide their membership on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. A second meeting with regional and sub-regional organizations in southern, central and eastern Africa is planned for end 2008.

At the country level, POCS will continue its work with country teams and other partners to strengthen operational protection response. Country-specific workshops will bring together key stakeholders including parties to conflict, international organizations, government representatives, as well as civil society and religious organizations to identify the protection profiles and priorities of the specific context, enhance coordination and analysis and agree to concrete action for more effective protection of civilians. Support will be provided to the country team in Afghanistan to take forward recommendations made at the protection workshop convened in August 2007 jointly with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, and follow-up at the provincial level will be ensured. Additional country workshops are planned for 2008, with Somalia, the occupied Palestinian territory and Sri Lanka as possible focus situations.

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues
Outputs Indicators
Monitoring methodology and indicators developed for key protection priorities, including access restrictions. Methodology and indicators developed on access restrictions. Number of countries in which methodology and indicators implemented.

Protection agenda advanced at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Strengthened advocacy on the protection of civilians with the Security Council and Member States through systematic briefings and strategic planning, and updating of tools such as the Aide Memoire on Issues Pertaining to the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. Bilateral meetings held with key regional organizations to develop a road map elaborating protection policy papers for each organization. Sub-regional workshop held. Protection of civilians at the country level strengthened. Number of Member States receiving protection briefings and using updated Aide Memoire. Number of regional organizations engaged in the protection policy paper development process and attending the sub-regional protection workshop. Number of country workshops on the protection of civilians held. Number of recommendations from workshops incorporated into country-specific protection strategies.