Civilians still need more protection from effects of armed conflict worldwide: UN official (2)

09:14, July 08, 2010      

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These institutional developments should be very helpful said Holmes, but civilians are still victims too often. In 2009 there were still thousands of civilian deaths in conflicts reported around the world and many more unreported. 15, 275 rapes, mostly by armed men, were reported in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo alone in 2009 and Holmes indicated that the numbers are only getting worse.

According to Holmes accountability on national and international levels remains an obstacle to helping civilians in conflict.

"The danger here is that the normative framework has outpaced the enforcement will and capacity of the international community," he said. "So I urge the council to take a robust approach to accountability. National justice systems must remain the first line of defense but when they prove unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice and provide remedies to victims, the international community must explore alternative means."

Holmes praised efforts by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to explore alternative means of justice by creating official inquiries into human rights violations in conflict-torn nations like Sri Lanka and Guinea.

Holmes also said that the Security Council itself has many ways to help encourage accountability for behavior towards civilians in armed conflict, such as the abilities to impose sanctions and establish international tribunals.

He suggested though, that it might be wise to establish a permanent mechanism in the UN system to investigate serious allegations of violations of civilians'rights in conflicts, in order to help depoliticize the process.

Source: Xinhua
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