Primary responsibility to protect civilians lies with host governments: UN peacekeeping chief

10:19, May 11, 2011      

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The primary responsibility of protecting civilians in armed conflicts lies with the host government, the UN peacekeeping chief said here on Tuesday. The remarks came as UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, addressed an open debate of the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

While the UN currently has seven peacekeeping operations deployed around the world with the mandate to protect civilians, the primary responsibility lies with host government, he said.

Le Roy also called for political support from the Security Council to complement peacekeeping efforts. "The protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations is often carried out in extremely challenging environments, in many cases with tremendous political complexities," said Le Roy.

"Ultimately, (the protection of civilians) is assured by stable political outcomes, and the Security Council's role in ensuring that parties stay on the path to peace is always critical," he added. Meanwhile, Le Roy cited the importance of the UN's role in protecting civilians in South Sudan as it prepares to officially declare its independence from the North on July 9 following a landmark referendum in January.

As the potential for a volatile security environment remains, Le Roy noted that the potential role of UN peacekeepers in protecting civilians is not about replacing the government of South Sudan's responsibility in this respect, but about assisting it to protect civilians where it does not have the capacity to do so. "In this regard, many elements, including civilian peacekeepers, have a critical role to play," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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