Remarks of the Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Aamir Khan Protection of Civilians in Peacekeeping Virtual Event (Friday, May 27, 2022)

Protection of civilians is an essential component of UN peacekeeping, which provides security, political and peacebuilding support to help countries to make the difficult transition from conflict to peace.

The most effective and sustainable way of protecting civilians is to ensure stability, peace and security through inclusive and political processes and sustainable solutions to conflict, especially by supporting host states to fulfil their responsibility to protect civilians.

In this regard the following key principles must be upheld and given respect in all circumstances:

The primary responsibility to protect civilians is of the host authorities. The UN peacekeeping operations must be deployed to assist host states in discharging their responsibility guided by three interrelated and mutually reinforcing principles - consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force, except in self-defence.

Secondly, the POC mandate, whose sole purpose is to protect civilians must also take into account the safety and security of peacekeepers because they are operating in a complex and dangerous environment.

Since 1960, Pakistan has committed over 200,000 of its men and women peacekeepers with honour and valour in forty-six peacekeeping missions across various continents. We lost 6 Peacekeepers in MONUSCO on 29th March.

Based on our experience, we strongly feel that the safety and security of civilians must be prioritized in decision-making regarding the allocation, deployment and use of available mission capacity and resources.

Unless the POC mandate prioritizes the safety and security of peacekeepers, not only the civilians but also the peacekeepers will be put in harm's way, and our peacekeeping missions would be unable to effectively, prevent, stop, or mitigate the threats.

We, therefore, emphasize the importance of addressing the failures of the armed and control structures during the protection of civilian action, ensuring evacuation of causalities of both civilians and peacekeepers from the scene and initiating prompt and impartial investigation whenever a mishap occurs.

Allow me to ask the panellist to throw light on what more measures should be taken by the United Nations and its partners to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers to ensure that the peacekeepers are themselves well protected when they are protecting the civilians.