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Protection of Civilians Week 2021

24 May – 28 May 2021


In 1999, the UN Security Council added the protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoC) to its agenda, thereby formally recognizing PoC as a matter of international peace and security. Resolution 1265 – the Council’s first resolution on PoC – set the parameters of what remains today the building blocks of the PoC agenda. Since then, the annual Open Debate of the Security Council on this issue has been the opportunity for the UN membership to take stock of the state of PoC, assess tools available to enhance the PoC on the ground and adopt several thematic PoC resolutions.

Since 2018, Switzerland, CIVIC/World Vision and OCHA have been coordinating a series of side events around the Security Council Open Debate and the release of the Secretary-General’s annual PoC report, i.e. “PoC week.” These side events involve Member States, UN agencies, NGOs, as well as people directly affected. Over the years, PoC week has imposed itself as the time when the UN Membership, UN agencies and civil society organizations come together to reflect on key PoC trends, share good practices, build consensus on policy issues, and crystalize normative developments.

The fourth edition of PoC week took place from 24 to 28 May 2021. This year’s theme was “Partnering for Protection”. The Open Debate was held on the afternoon of Tuesday, 25 May and side events took place from Monday, 24 May to Friday, 28 May. All relevant information pertaining to PoC week 2021 can be found on this page.


Security Councils Open High-Level Videoteleconference (VTC)

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

The Security Councils Open High-Level VTC was presided over by H.E. Mr. Zhang Jun, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations. 

The following speakers briefed the Security Council:

The delivery of the statements of the briefers and Council members was webcast live and archived on UN Web TV.


Report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (S/2021/423)
Full Report [PDF]


List of Side Events

Monday, 24 May 2021

8.30 a.m. – 10 a.m. EDT
Unarmed approaches to protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping – DPO, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Uruguay

Concept Note

This event sought to explain and feature unarmed approaches to PoC currently being implemented by PoC-mandated UN peacekeeping operations. It also considered opportunities and challenges for peacekeeping’s enhanced partnership with other protection actors such as local communities, civil society, NGOs and state actors.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

8 a.m. – 9.30 a.m. EDT
Local perspectives on the protection of civilians: the impact of conflict and hunger – World Food Programme, World Vision, Action Against Hunger, ICRC, Oxfam, Niger, Dominican Republic, United States, United Kingdom

Concept Note

Panellists for this virtual interactive round-table dialogue reflected on their experiences across a diversity of conflict-affected contexts impacted by food insecurity, from the personal to the operational, sharing their unique views on how conflict and hunger impact civilian protection and what urgent actions are needed now.

9.30 a.m. – 11 a.m. EDT
Contributions of special political missions to the protection of civilians – DPPA, OHCHR, OCHA

Concept Note

As part of this event, special political missions shared their experience regarding the protection of civilians, with contributions from human rights and humanitarian partners, describing how they have leveraged their mandates to advance peaceful and sustainable solutions, promote and protect human rights, and ultimately help create a protective environment for civilians.

11 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. EDT
The humanitarian impact of attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel: a call to action to better protect children in times of conflict – UNICEF, Germany, Jordan, Niger

Concept Note

UNICEF, in collaboration with Germany, Jordan and Niger, convened a virtual side event to the annual Security Council open debate on the Protection of Civilians to launch its new report “Water Under Fire: Attacks on water and sanitation services in armed conflict and the impacts on children”. In doing so, brought together government and humanitarian leaders, as well as UN experts and civil society, to:

1) identify key humanitarian consequences to civilians – specifically on children – when access to water and sanitation is hindered by attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel, misuse of water and sanitation services during armed conflict and obstruction of humanitarian access; raise awareness about the specific impact on girls.

2) discuss global, national and local practical measures that should be pursued to better protect water and sanitation infrastructure and personnel in today’s armed conflicts, in line with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

9 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. EDT
Protection of health care – ICRC, NorCross, Norway, Canada, Egypt, European Union, France, Japan, New Zealand, Niger, Spain, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay, OCHA

Concept Note - EN

Concept Note - ES

The objective of the event was to mobilize States and organizations to:
• Translate high-level political engagement on the protection of health care into concrete action at the national level to make progress towards operationalizing Security Council resolution 2286
• Support implementation of concrete commitments at the national level through international cooperation and dedicated resources
• Share best practices and challenges: highlighting successful initiatives and existing tools

11.30 a.m. – 12.45 p.m. EDT
Virtual high-level policy round-table event: improving the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping transitions – Ireland, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Kenya, United States, CIVIC, OHCHR

Concept Note

This discussion highlighted evolving practice and emerging research on strengthening PoC prior to, during and after peacekeeping drawdown and withdrawal amid continued threats of civilian harm.

1 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. EDT
Protecting the environment is protecting civilians: the humanitarian dimensions of the environment, peace and security agenda – Belgium, Costa Rica, Niger, Switzerland, Vietnam, Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, EnPAx, PAX

Concept Note

This event examined the detrimental impacts of conflict-related environmental damage on civilians, and explore the linkages between protecting the environment and protecting civilians in armed conflict. By bringing together experts from a range of environmental, humanitarian and protection fields, the event sought to identify and promote coordinated recommendations for the prevention, mitigation and remediation of conflict-related environmental damage as a means of improving civilian protection.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

9 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. EDT
Explosive weapons and human health: how to better protect civilians – INEW, Austria, OCHA, ICRC, Costa Rica, New Zealand

Concept Note

This panel discussion investigated the range of harms to human health caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as well as ongoing discussions towards a political declaration to better protect civilians from such harms. Panellists discussed the impact of explosive weapons on individual physical and mental health, on hospitals and other health-care services, and on the infrastructure and social systems that maintain population health more broadly. They also covered how the development of new international standards, including a political declaration, can address these often catastrophic impacts of explosive weapons use.

11 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. EDT
Emerging practice in effective civilian harm mitigation – ABA, CIVIC, PAX, Afghanistan, the Netherlands

Concept Note

A diverse group of expert panellists explored emerging practice in civilian harm mitigation, ranging from partnered military coalitions to civilian protection.

1 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. EDT
Protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping missions: a collective endeavour – Brazil, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Guatemala

Concept Note

This event discussed best practices of peacekeeping missions in creating a protecting environment, based on a whole-of-mission approach. Learning from field experiences in peacekeeping missions, the event aimed to showcase successful stories of joint efforts to protect civilians, with a focus on prevention, while also highlighting some of the challenges faced in the field.

Friday, 28 May 2021

9 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. EDT
Triple tragedies: conflict, climate change and displacement UNHCR, OCHA, Niger, United States

Concept Note

The event sought to raise awareness on the interconnection between climate change, armed conflict and displacement and its implications on the protection of civilians. Panellists shared their views on how these intersections affect the vulnerability of people in affected regions and possible operational and policy steps needed to mitigate the impact on communities.



Action Against Hunger ACF logo      Afghanistan logo       American Bar Association logo     Permanent Mission of Austria logo

  Bangladesh logo          Kingdom of Belgium logo     Brazil UN logo    Canada logo

  Center for Civilians in Conflict logo  Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations logo   Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations - Security Council Affairs logo    Department of Peacekeeping Operations logo

 Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations logo  El Salvador logo     European Union flag logo

  Permanent Mission of France to the UN     Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations New York logoGuatemala logo  

 Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations logo   INEW logo     Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations logo  Joint Environment Unit logo

 Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations logo  Kingdom of the Netherland logo Permanent Mission of New Zealand logo 

Norwegian Red Cross logo Norway Security Council logo    OCHA logo

 Oxfam logo               Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations logo       

 Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations logo          Tunisia Security Council logo    

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner   UNICEF logo   United States logo

 Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations logo       WFP logo  World Vision logo