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The Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping

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A. PURPOSE

  1. The purpose of this policy is to provide the conceptual framework, guiding principles, and key considerations for the implementation of protection of civilians (POC) mandates in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

B. SCOPE

  1. Compliance with this policy, under the overall authority of the Head of Mission, is mandatory for all civilian, police and military personnel working in United Nations peacekeeping missions with protection of civilians mandates.

  2. This policy has been drafted in accord with the United Nations Charter and peacekeeping principles. This policy recognises the United Nations obligation to promote, uphold and protect international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and is based on the principle that all United Nations personnel maintain the highest standards of integrity and conduct. All personnel shall respect the exclusively international character of the mission and “shall not seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any other authority external to the Organization.”

C. RATIONALE

  1. Responding to requests of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (A/63/19) and the United Nations Security Council (S/RES/1894, 2009) and recognizing the need for standard operational guidance to inform implementation of protection of civilian mandates, the United Nations Secretariat produced the Operational Concept on the Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in 2010, drawing on operational experience and lessons learned to that point.

That document was noted with appreciation by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (A/64/19) and subsequent Special Committee reports recognized the need for further baseline guidance for missions on how to implement the protection of civilians mandate (e.g., A/65/19, A/66/19 and A/68/19).

  1. The Operational Concept has served as an important foundation for the protection of civilians concept in UN peacekeeping. At the same time, protection of civilians guidance has evolved over the past four years through the accumulation of experiences and lessons learned as well as the development of key documents such as the DPKO/DFS Protection of Civilians Resources and Capabilities Matrix, the DPKO/DFS Framework for Drafting Comprehensive Protection of Civilians Strategies, the DPKO/DFS Comparative Study on Protection of Civilians Coordination Mechanisms, the DPKO/DFS-OHCHR Lessons Learned Report on the Joint Protection Team Mechanism in MONUSCO, and the DPKO/DFS Lessons Learned Note on Civilians Seeking Protection at UN Compounds.

  2. In line with the five core challenges identified by the Secretary-General in his 2009 Report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict and encouraged by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations’ request that the Secretariat “pursue efforts in close consultation and with the participation of the missions to address their needs for further operational guidance on the protection of civilians” (A/66/19), DPKO and DFS have drawn on the most recent lessons learned and the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) recommendations to review and revise the Operational Concept and consolidate it with other key guidance materials referenced above in the form of this Policy. Aimed at clarifying and reconciling the concept and operationalization of the protection of civilians in peacekeeping with overall Security Council guidance and directives, this policy identifies and organizes the range of mandated tasks contributing to the protection of civilians.

  3. This policy supersedes the 2010 Operational Concept on the Protection of Civilians in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, as well as the DPKO/DFS Framework for Drafting Comprehensive Protection of Civilians Strategies. Guidelines to be read in conjunction with this policy include the DPKO/DFS Guidelines on Implementing Protection of Civilians Mandates by Military Components of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, the DPKO and DFS Guidelines on the Deterrence and Use of Military Force in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, and other documents referenced in Section G below.