Norway welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and supports the conclusions and recommendations for action contained therein.
It is vital that all UN mandated peacekeeping operations are provided with a mandate that takes protection fully into account. The operation must be authorized to take all necessary action to protect civilians. That means that the potential consequences for civilians must be factored in the planning as well as the execution of such action.
Effective protection of civilians requires close cooperation among a broad range of actors, including the military, the police as wells as human rights, development and humanitarian workers. An integrated approach is key to ensuring that all parties work together to maximise protection. Integration must be based on a common strategic plan and a shared understanding of priorities. Further, to make a real difference, the local community need to have ownership of the strategy and the goals of the operation.
Norway is deeply concerned about the continued use of sexual violence as a method of warfare that each year destroys the lives of thousands of women and girls, as well as men and boys. The report by Under-Secretary-General John Holmes to the Council in September on the situation in the DRC was alarming.
The response from the Security Council to sexual and gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict must be intensified. It is totally unacceptable that UN officials should be an inactive witness to such atrocities, or even worse, be part of such acts.
Norway supports the proposals for action in the Secretary-General’s report, including to report such crimes to the International Criminal Court and to consider sanctions against member states and as well as non-state actors that perpetrate such crimes. Further, we support his recommendation of establishing ad hoc judicial arrangements to address sexual violence in the DRC and in other situations where impunity prevails.
A key challenge is the need to eliminate the immense humanitarian impact of cluster munitions. Reports indicate that 98% of the victims of cluster munitions are civilians.
This is the reason for the Norwegian Government to initiate an international process with the objective of prohibiting cluster munitions. The first Conference on Cluster Munitions took place in February this year and resulted in the “Oslo Declaration” which is supported by some 80 states. The aim is to ensure an end to the use of cluster munitions and to secure adequate assistance to affected peoples and communities.