Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians

We, the troop and police contributing countries, following the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians held in Kigali, from 28-29 May 2015 under the theme “Protection of Civilians through Peacekeeping: From Mandates Design to Implementation”; bringing together the top 30 troop and police contributing countries, the top ten financial contributing countries and other stakeholders; and after deliberations on how to effectively implement the Protection of Civilians mandates in peacekeeping operations, pledge the following:

1. To train all of our troops on the protection of civilians prior to their deployment to missions.

2. To ensure that our sector and contingent-commanders, as well as our nominees for mission leadership positions, have a high level of training and preparedness on peacekeeping operations and, in particular, the protection of civilians.

3. To be prepared to use force to protect civilians, as necessary and consistent with the mandate. Such action encompasses making a show of force as a deterrent; inter-positioning our forces between armed actors and civilians; and taking direct military action against armed actors with clear hostile intent to harm civilians.

4. Not to stipulate caveats or other restrictions that prevent us from fulfilling our responsibility to protect civilians in accordance with the mandate.

5. To identify and communicate to the UN any resource and capability gaps that inhibit our ability to protect civilians.

6. To strive, within our capabilities, to contribute the enabling capabilities (e.g. helicopters) to peacekeeping operations that facilitate improved civilian protection.

7. To avoid undue delay in protecting civilians, by investing our contingent commander with the authority to use force to protect civilians in urgent situations without the need for further consultations with capital.

8. Not to hesitate to take action to protect civilians, in accordance with the rules of engagement, in the absence of an effective host government response or demonstrated willingness to carry out its responsibilities to protect civilians.

9. To demand clarity from the UN and mission leadership on our rules of engagement, including under which circumstances the use of force is appropriate.

10. To seek to identify, as early as possible, potential threats to civilians and proactively take steps to mitigate such threats and otherwise reduce the vulnerability of the civilian population.

11. To seek to enhance the arrangements for rapid deployment, including by supporting a full review of the UN’s standby arrangements, exploring a system in which earmarked units from troop and police contributing countries could be placed in readiness in order to ensure rapid troop deployment, and encouraging the utilisation of partnerships with regional organisations such as the African Union and its RECs.

12. To be vigilant in monitoring and reporting any human rights abuses or signs of impending violence in the areas in which our personnel serve.

13. To take disciplinary action against our own personnel if and when they fail to act to protect civilians when circumstances warrant such action.

14. To undertake our own review, in parallel to any after-action review, in the event that our personnel are unable to protect civilians, and identify and share key lessons for avoiding such failures in the future.

15. To hold our own personnel to the highest standard of conduct, and to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute any incidents of abuse.

16. To better implement protection of civilians mandates and deliver on our responsibilities, we request better, regular and more extensive consultations on the mandating of peacekeeping missions. When mandates of peacekeeping missions are under review and may change, it should also be mandatory for the Security Council to consult all troop and police contributing countries deployed to the mission. We commit to bring our own ideas and solutions to these consultations that can strengthen the implementation of protection of civilians mandates.

17. To urge the Security Council to ensure that mandates are matched with the requisite resources, and to commit to support a process that addresses the current critical resource gaps in several missions. We support a more phased mandating process that can ensure a better alignment of resources and mandates.

18. Noting that any well-planned mandate implementation may be undermined by inefficient mobility, logistics or support; To call for effective support of all military plans, including contingency plans; and to commit to work with the Secretariat to review the current support arrangements, including possible transfer of authority over more of the logistical capability to the military component, where appropriate.

Recommend that these principles be endorsed on a voluntary basis and that the signatories meet once each year to discuss how to further improve the implementation of the Protection of Civilians mandate in UN peacekeeping operations.



Joint Statement by the Governments of Italy, Netherlands, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Uruguay: the Inaugural Signatories to the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians in Peacekeeping, September 2, 2015

Following a High Level International Conference on Protection of Civilians in Kigali in May, the governments of Rwanda, Italy, Netherlands, Uruguay and Uganda have agreed to a voluntary set of principles on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping.

The Kigali Principles establish that protection of civilians is the core function of peacekeeping and that effective protection of civilians requires properly trained troops, adequate equipment, and a strong political commitment.

The Kigali Principles represent a shared commitment by signatories to strengthen their efforts in peacekeeping operations to address the terrible plight that civilians continue to endure in armed conflicts. We call upon other significant troop- and police-contributing countries to join us in endorsing these principles to strengthen our collective efforts to eliminate suffering and advance conditions for peace around the world.

Read more



Closing Remarks by Minister James Kabarebe at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence, Republic of Rwanda
Closing of the High Level International Conference on Protection of Civilians

Kigali, 29 May 2015

Your Excellence Jose Ramos Horta, Chair of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations,
Excellency Dmitri Titov, Assistant Secretary General and Representing the UN Secretary General,
Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have been honoured to be with you over the past two days, and it is my honour to stand before you as we come to the close of what has been by all accounts a very busy, yet successful and productive conference, the first ever conference of TCCs to discuss the effective implementation of Protection of Civilians mandate.

I am particularly encouraged by fruitful discussions, which led us to wide agreement on the need to adopt a more proactive approach in our endeavour to protect civilians in Peacekeeping operations.

As one of 30 top troop and police contributing countries, it is our conviction that constant engagement and discussions among stakeholders such as this conference is fundamental to strengthening Peacekeeping operations; including delivering on core mandate of protection of Civilians, which we believe should be the goal of all peacekeeping Operations as remarked by HE President Paul Kagame in his keynote address.

This conference and its conclusions represent a critical turning point in advancing dialogue on Protection of Civilians not only among TCCs; but also with the Partners who are represented here today; but also for those who could not make it for some reasons.

It is our hope that the next step will be the endorsement, on voluntary basis, of the Kigali Principles that have just been read out. We believe these Kigali Principles will be the basis for our next discussions on POC, particularly the September 2015 High Level Summit on Peacekeeping Operations.

The Government of Rwanda is grateful for the positive feedback to our invitation for this conference; which in itself is an indication that we have a shared understanding that we needed to move beyond the business as usual. Your insights on the way forward are very much appreciated

Last but not least, I sincerely thank. H.E. Paul Kagame The President of Rwanda, H.E. Jose Ramos Horta, H.E. Dmitry Titov, Heads of Delegations, all of the speakers, session moderators, panelists, rapporteurs, and everyone involved in the conference, and of course all of you, the participants, who all contributed to a really successful conference.

I thank you very much and wish you safe travel back home for those traveling this evening; and a very pleasant stay in Rwanda for those who are still enjoying the beauty of our country!

I thank you very much.


Keynote Address by Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov
High-Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians
Kigali, Rwanda
28 May 2015

I am humbled to speak today – on behalf of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations – after President Kagame and President Ramos-Horta. But I must begin by particularly thanking the Government of Rwanda for bringing us together, to discuss the protection of civilians. As you know, the vast majority of United Nations peacekeepers now operate in Missions with POC mandates, and in the most challenging security environments facing new threats, such as extremism and asymmetric warfare. This crucial task is often the yardstick by which the international community, and those whom we endeavour to protect, judge UN peacekeepers. We in DPKO have devoted significant time, attention, thought and care to make progress in this area.

The timing of this conference is also auspicious. Not only does this week commemorate the Day of Africa. Tomorrow also marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, which closely follows the recent approval of the first DPKO Policy and Military Guidelines on the Protection of Civilians. These strategic documents consolidate the lessons that the Organization has learned over the past fifteen years.

When I first joined the UN in the early 1990s, there was little discussion of the protection of civilians. While certain aspects of the issue seem to be obvious, peacekeeping was primarily framed by the traditional issues of international peace and security. However, the atrocities in Rwanda twenty-one years ago, and then in the Balkans, more than any other single event, have changed that perception completely. The Rwandan genocide was a horrific reminder of the dire need for the international community to take swift and decisive action to protect civilians. We know that the UN Mission in Rwanda, UNAMIR, faced problems of a weak mandate, a lack of resources and an absence of political will, including in the Security Council. The failure of UNAMIR was a failure of the whole United Nations and the international community more broadly. Therefore we bow – again and again – our heads before the people of Rwanda. Yet, many UNAMIR peacekeepers displayed great bravery in these tragic days and weeks. One of them, the late Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, is now recognized through a special UN medal for courage named in his honour.

We cannot undo the Rwanda tragedy but, just as this country has risen stronger in the twenty-first century, so should we learn from past. We at the UN Secretariat must tell the Security Council what it needs to know rather than it wants to hear; we must demand the necessary resources for crucial peacekeeping and peacebuilding tasks; we must ensure an international system of effective accountability; and we must acknowledge when a situation is beyond the scope of peacekeeping – and instead demands a major multinational response.

In 1999, the UN completed an independent inquiry into its handling of the Rwandan genocide. It is no coincidence that the Security Council issued the first protection of civilians mandate that same year . It authorized peacekeepers, for the first time in the history, to “use all necessary means” not only to protect themselves, but also to protect civilians.

Today, peacekeeping missions engage in numerous activities, but the protection of civilians is the priority mandate. This is recognized in Security Council resolution 1894 adopted 2009, and many Mission mandates. But it is also a natural result of the moral logic of peacekeeping. As the Brahimi report affirmed some 15 years ago, it is unconscionable to deploy peacekeepers under the UN banner without equipping them to stop atrocities committed before their eyes. Similarly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated clearly (and I quote): “All of us share a fundamental responsibility to do more to protect civilians caught up in the horrors of war.”

The past decade has witnessed a remarkable growth in knowledge and skills on the protection of civilians. Today, there exists an official policy on the subject, along with military guidelines and special training modules for military, police and civilian personnel, and an Action Plan for implementation. This guidance provides a clear definition of the protection of civilians, based firmly on Security Council mandate language.

DPKO policy on the protection of civilians also highlights a series of principles upon which implementation of the protection of civilians mandate should be based.

First, it is important to recognize that the primary responsibility to protect remains with a host State. Peacekeepers are only deployed with the consent of a host State, and they fundamentally act in support of international peace. If threats to the civilian population arise, a first act for all of us should be to strongly call upon the Government involved to address the situation. The issue of accountability is very big in this equation. But also – everything possible should be made to assist in the Government’s national capacity to protect its civilians.

Regrettably, however, Host States often lack the capacity or adequate presence in affected areas. Thus, the most important principle is that peacekeepers must be ready to actively protect if needed. This is their sacred responsibility. It means that peacekeeping Missions must constantly assess threats to civilians and plan deployments, patrols and all their operations accordingly.

Moreover, protection of civilians is a Mission-wide mandate. Modern peacekeeping Missions bring many capacities to bear, including political dialogue and mediation, human rights monitoring, rule of law capacity-building, and training and reforming the police and security sector. The full range of these capacities is essential for protection, and the use of force by peacekeepers is naturally the last resort – but an indispensable tool. The United Nations has a moral responsibility and cannot stand by while civilians are being killed.

In view of the required robustness of peacekeeping in many Mission settings, I would like to emphasize that the protection of civilians should not only be addressed through military means – good offices, mediation and rule of law are of equal importance. Also, mindful of the high expectations concerning the protection of civilians, we should also avoid the scapegoating of peacekeepers.

Allow me to give you only two examples to illustrate the important contribution of Blue Helmets. Just a few weeks ago, on 14 May, a MINUSCA patrol encountered members of the ex-Seleka militia who were robbing civilians at gunpoint. The militia immediately opened fire on the UN patrol. When the MINUSCA troops returned fire, the militia fled and the Mission rescued a large group of local people. And last year, in Darfur, the UNAMID base in Khor Abeche shielded more than 3,000 IDPs when Janjaweed militias attacked. The militiamen burned more than 400 homes, but the IDPs remained safe.

Our policies and guidelines have been translated into training materials available to Member States and peacekeeping training centres. In 2014, DPKO/DFS has supported the training of almost 45,000 military personnel and 12,000 police officers, including on the protection of civilians. As you know, DPKO conducts training within Missions, but frequent rotations and pre-deployment visits make troop and police contributors themselves key in ensuring that all UN Blue Helmets are familiar with all their responsibilities and are fully prepared to act accordingly.

DPKO’s approach to the protection of civilians also emphasizes close cooperation with regional organizations. Our two newest Missions, in Mali and the Central African Republic, were again established through close liaison with their African Union-led forerunners. DPKO also works actively with this strategic partner, and sub-regional training centres, on matters of policy development and training.

Despite these activities, many of our Missions still face significant challenges in implementing their formidable mandates. Allocating sufficient resources and capabilities for peacekeeping remains a major priority. While the resources provided to peacekeepers have dramatically improved since the days of UNAMIR, our Missions still face shortfalls in many areas.

Let us admit – United Nations Missions also face a greater spectrum of threats. The UN Mission in South Sudan protects more than 100,000 civilians in its own bases, while a third of the country is locked in a state of active armed conflict. We pay tribute to SRSG Hilde Johnson and her colleagues for that. The UN Multidimensional Stabilisation Mission in Mali faces violent extremist groups that attack our personnel and the local population through improvised explosive devices and more. As of April this year, peacekeepers in Mali had been attacked almost 90 times, suffering 38 fatal casualties and 138 injuries. In Darfur, 69 peacekeepers have been killed in attacks since the Mission was established. Year after year, over 100 peacekeepers are killed in the line of duty.

I am confident that many of the above aspects will be reflected in the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on the Review of Peace Operations, under the able guidance of President Ramos-Horta, who is with us here today. Together, we are aiming at creating a stronger, flexible, agile, delivery- oriented peacekeeping that reflects the rapidly changing world, the new threats and the renewed international determination for collective action.

Following the High-Level Summit on Peacekeeping Operations, which was co-chaired by the Secretary-General and Vice-President Biden, your conference seeks to produce consensus recommendations for improved mandate implementation, an objective that DPKO actively supports. It is a significant challenge, but I have no doubt that it is one to which we will rise. I use this opportunity to express special gratitude to the Government and people of Rwanda for their contribution to UN operations – 5,575 of their brave men and women in military and police uniforms now serve in the name of peace, and serve with particular distinction. They proudly serve shoulder to shoulder with the other 125,000 uniformed and civilian staff in 16 UN peacekeeping operations and many special political missions. We pay tribute to all of them.

My thanks to our gracious hosts, and I wish you the best of luck in deliberating on this most important of topics.


Remarks by Former President José Ramos-Horta at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Remarks by José Ramos-Horta
Chair, High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations

Kigali, Rwanda 28 May 2015

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I thank Her Excellency Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo for inviting me and my Panel colleagues Marie-Louise Baricako and Hilde Johnson to this conference.

Allow me to introduce the Timor-Leste Ambassador to the EU and Belgium HE Nelson Santos who is accompanying me.

I am here as the Chair of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and also as a former resistance leader and President of my own country, distant Timor-Leste.

Being here for the first time since the 1994 genocide, I bow in tribute to the 800,000 fellow human beings who were murdered during that period.

The Rwanda genocide will always stand as an indictment of the leaders of the United Nations and the international community at that time for their utter failure of moral leadership, compassion and courage in making the decisions that peoples of the world expected of them, that they expected of the United Nations.

I bow in tribute to the people of Rwanda for the path of reconciliation you have pursued and for the extraordinary transformation your country has experienced, from tragedy to peace and prosperity.

Making sure that the UN never again leaves at a time when it is most needed, or betrays the most vulnerable at a time when their protection is most urgent, has been at the heart of the work of the Panel.

Those who endure immense suffering are entitled to be angry; but those who are angry and yet forgive and live on and let live their worst enemies, teach us all enduring lessons in courage, humanity and wisdom.

I also applaud this initiative which links to the Summit last September chaired by Vice President Biden and President Kagame, among others. This year-long effort is focusing on mobilizing more countries to support UN missions as part of their global commitment to peace and security. I had the opportunity to participate in the European roundtable hosted by the Dutch in Amsterdam. I hope that the Summit that will take place in the margins of the General Assembly this September will bear fruit. I hope that the Summit that will take place in the margins of the General Assembly this September will bear fruit.

Africa for one, is now delivering. Africa now contributes more to UN Peace Operations than any other region. And this is in addition to your contributions to African-led peace support operations.

On behalf of the High-Level Panel on UN Peace Operations, I would like to take this opportunity to summarize our efforts since the Secretary-General appointed us in October 2014. I would also like to share our deliberations so far, and hear from you, while we, the Panel, are in the process of drawing conclusions so we can present the final report to the Secretary-General on June 16th.

The Panel has undertaken an intensive consultation process listening to the major stakeholders of UN peace operations; we have received in total 80 submissions, from Member States, regional organizations, UN bodies and civil society.

The most recent submission we received was a very important and thoughtful one from the African Union.

We have also travelled to as many regions and capitals as possible in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

We have held countless meetings with Member States, regional organizations, international and national non-governmental organizations, in addition to relevant UN Secretariat, offices and agencies, funds and programmes.

Panel members visited three peace operations in DRC, Mali and Dakar to listen to the concerns of communities and host governments, as well as to the staff of peace operations and other partners on the ground.

We have met and spoken with many Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Special Envoys, Force Commanders, and other senior mission leaders.

Throughout our work, the Panel has maintained close communication with the SCR 1325 Expert Study and the Advisory Group on the Review of Peace-building Architecture to ensure a synergized approach to our respective areas of focus.

The Protection of Civilians featured heavily in all these consultations and it has become clear to the Panel that Protection of Civilians is of critical importance.

Protection of Civilians is the measure by which most UN Peace Operations are judged today. 95 percent of UN peacekeepers have this mandate. It is what local communities and the international community expect from the UN. And yet there are so many challenges, particularly the gaps that we continue to see between mandates and resources.

Our Panel has heard that some missions are making serious efforts to address armed groups that are threatening civilians and that UN missions have saved many thousands of lives either by acting quickly, such as in CAR, or opening their gates to civilians, as in South Sudan.

In many cases, AU missions are doing even more in this regard and often with fewer resources to back them up or safeguard their own safety and security.

But we also have heard a lot of discontent from communities that UN personnel need to get out of their vehicles, be more visible, show that they are determined to act against the groups that are threatening civilians, and, as a last resort, even put themselves at risk when the lives of civilians are threatened.

Many community-based local NGOs think that the UN may prioritize negotiating an agreement between parties in conflict and are less concerned by the civilians caught in the crossfire. This misperception affects us all.

And the challenges of protecting civilians appear to be, if anything, increasing. Two-thirds of UN peacekeepers today are trying to protect civilians in the midst of armed conflicts, some in the presence of violent extremist groups. How do missions deal with these difficult environments? Rwanda knows these challenges well as it has deployments in some of the most difficult countries in this regard, including Sudan and South Sudan. The challenges to logistics, mobility, and rapid response in these environments are very significant.

In Mali, the most dangerous place by far for peacekeepers today, the violence is not really targeted against civilians but against the mission and other international forces there. Peace Operations need to be able to protect themselves in order to protect others.

Protecting civilians is not just the responsibility of uniformed peacekeepers.

The primary responsibility to protect civilians lies with the host government and Missions are slowly helping to build national capacity.

Civilians in all UN peace operations as well as NGOs and of course the communities themselves are all playing very important roles as well. Some are also effectively engaged in non-violent protection actions.

This burden also exists for Peace Operations.

We find ourselves within a normative framework with the Responsibility to Protect, endorsed at the 2005 World Summit, the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative and the increasing prominence of POC in Security Council mandates.

The United Nations Secretariat has developed guidance and training materials – and continues to adapt these as UN Peace Operations face evolving situations on the ground.
UN Peace Operations are deployed with protection advisors, dedicated civilian capacity with expertise on POC, the protection of women and children and addressing sexual violence as a weapon of war.

However, it is with the ability to protect civilians under imminent threat that the UN’s credibility is most at stake. And as we have heard, and seen, there is a lot of room for improvement in this area. The responsibility to improve, however, is a shared one – the Security Council, the General Assembly, SRSGs, troop- and police-contributing countries, us. We, as those obligated to serve and protect, need to better align our understanding and implementation of a POC mandate.

There are several ways to make sure Peace Operations deliver more effectively in implementing this mandate. These relate to how the mandates are formulated, better planning, better capabilities, better mobility assets and support systems, ensuring missions have more timely and better information on threats as they evolve, and better training and other efforts to address what some have called the “mindset.”

More efforts need to be made made to generate forces and capabilities that are tailored to the situation and can enable better and more effective protection by the UN in the future. More also needs to be done to make sure that the forces we deploy are able and willing to do so pro-actively.

When we say there is a mindset problem, what we really mean is that Member States simply do not agree on whose job this is and just how far missions are supposed to go with the resources that they have been provided.

Are troop- and police-contributing countries fully aware of the situation and dynamics on the ground and are the ready to carry out this mandate?

Do the Security Council, the TCCs and the Secretariat have a shared view on implementation and objectives?

You cannot protect everyone in all places. That is “mission impossible.” So who is responsible to closing that gap?

Is it the Secretariat’s job to tell the Security Council who will be and who won’t be protected?
Is it the Security Council’s job to give more restricted mandates covering, for example, a smaller area?

All of these issues must be very clear to everyone and, in our opinion, we are not there yet. I look forward to your thoughts and wisdom on this issue of the gap between mandates on the one hand and capabilities on the other.

Turning to the likelihood of success, it is one thing when you are trying to protect civilians in a relatively small country like Timor-Leste.

But what about today when peacekeepers are deployed in countries the size and scale of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Mali and parts of Sudan?

These are Missions in vast territories with limited infrastructure, and particularly difficult conditions with regard to terrain and climate. From a military perspective, it seems that the capabilities don’t add up in several of these large scale operations, but how much is enough in these massive environments? And how much is enough for the protection of civilians?

Planning and coordination is also very important, they are vital. The analysis and planning of missions have to be strengthened and POC has to be fully incorporated into every step of that process as a central objective of the mission.

The Secretary-General has to be as clear as possible to the Security Council on how mission efforts will be deployed and how priorities will be set. This also must be communicated much more clearly to communities.

There has been a lot of discussion around better information, analysis and risk assessments for POC. It is clear missions should have access to the technology they need to preempt threats and respond quickly to ensure greater safety for all.

Practical training is crucial because this is not the “usual” job of militaries around the world. It is closer to the work of formed police units around the world. Whether military or police, training in protecting civilians is needed.

The Panel is very aware of the difficult situations where Peace Operations are deployed today. It is also acutely aware of the threats that exist to civilians and the expectations – and obligation – we have to proactively protect these civilians from imminent threats.

UN Peace Operations are deployed to pre-empt threats to civilians through non-violent means but also, within limits, use of force. Together, we have to make sure we do what is necessary.
All of these discussions link up closely to the broader questions around the use of force in UN peacekeeping operations.

As some former Force Commanders have pointed out to us, here we see a double standard where there are regular investigations when force is used and repercussions when it is deemed to have been used excessively — and this is only appropriate.

But where are the repercussions when mission personnel failed to act even when they have the information and the ability to act on that information?

We need to ask what kind of signal that sends to those who are out there on the front lines of UN peacekeeping.

The push and the leadership to truly protect civilians cannot only come from those who are not participating in UN peacekeeping but also from those, like our hosts who are here today, who are acting on their words and on the lessons of the past.

You are all in my daily prayers and thoughts and I ask God to continue to bless you with endless wisdom and health so that you may carry on your noble work for a better world for all.

God Bless You.


Photos: Opening Session of the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians with President Kagame


Intervention by Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh

Intervention by Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh at the International Conference on Protection of Civilians on 28-29 May 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda

Mr. Moderator,
Distinguished participants,

We thank the Government of Rwanda for hosting this Conference, and making us feel welcome. Our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina personally asked me to attend this event. She attaches importance to following up on the discussions at the Peacekeeping Summit she co-Chaired with other leaders in September 2014 in New York.

This event coincides with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. We take this opportunity to recall the services rendered by valiant peacekeepers around the world. They have indeed made the UN’s principles and purpose of promoting peace visible and meaningful for us.

Just the other day, a Bangladeshi peacekeeper suffered death, with one of his colleagues injured, during a militant attack against them in Mali. I pay my solemn tribute to those sons of our soil. Their sacrifice further strengthens our resolve to maintain our value-driven contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Till date, 1,34,947 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have served in 54 UN peacekeeping missions in 40 countries around the world. At present, Bangladesh is the highest contributor with 9,659 personnel deployed in more than 10 peacekeeping missions. 125 valiant Peacekeepers from Bangladesh have so far sacrificed their lives for the cause of global peace.

Mr. Moderator,

Guided by the memory of the three million people that perished during our Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh took a pragmatic approach to the POC mandate in both practice and preparedness. Being part of most of the highly challenging UN peacekeeping missions, we could see the relevance of the broader POC mandate, and, in a number of cases, tackled it with some degree of creativity and professionalism even when the mandate was not laid out in clear, achievable terms.

Based on such experience, and echoing many of the points made by our distinguished panelists, we would wish to make four observations:

First, the operational concept of POC is now much broader than protection of civilians from immediate threats. Our troops and police have reconciled with this understanding, and have been making the best possible efforts to integrate the various components of POC into their preparedness through training. One challenge remains as to mainstreaming the inherent political aspects of POC mandates into the traditional military or law enforcement approach to training.

Second, in view of the diversity of POC mandates according to the realities of the particular missions, much depends on field leadership and the training or orientation given on the ground. While focus should be given on leadership training, resources need to be ensured for comprehensive and customized training during the missions.

Third, while much is being said about system-wide coherence on POC mandates during missions, we should also perhaps think of enhancing such training and interactions among various actors as part of regular peacekeeping training programmes.

Lastly, as major troops and police contributing countries, we continue to invest in critical enablers and enhancing our capabilities. Yet, the mismatch between the Council’s expectations and the resources and capacity at the disposal of the missions remain a persistent cause for friction and, at times, frustration. We see no alternative to enhanced and regular dialogue beteween the Council and major TCC/ PCCs.

Mr. Moderator,

In response to the evolving nature of the POC mandate, we have incorporated a strong and comprehensive POC component in our peacekeeping training curricula, with in-built demonstration and table-top exercises. Earlier this year, our premiere peace support operations training institute organized a customized training course on POC through the UN’s Mobile Training Team with support from Japan. As announced by our Prime Minister at the Peacekeeping Summit last year, we shall continue to further streamline POC into the peacekeeping training modules designed for our troops and police.

I thank you.


Statement by Hilde F. Johnson at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Hilde F. Johnson
Former SRSG UNMISS & Member of the UN High Level independent Panel for Peace Operations

28 May 2015

I am speaking here in a personal capacity.

The imperative of never standing by –

POC in UN peacekeeping was coming out of the failures of the ‘90s – of Rwanda and Srebenica. After the Brahimi-report in 2000, the majority of peacekeeping missions receiving POC-mandates, most of them under Chapter VII. The imperative was never again to be seen to be standing by while civilians were under threat.

But – what is happening in practice? Many UN peacekeepers have taken corageous action to protect civilians. However, in too many cases have they been accused of standing by. A recent UN-evalutation (OIOS) has documented this in a report last year. The report is too shallow in its analysis, however, and forgets essential elements that are needed for missions to deliver on their POC-mandates.

What can be done to respond more rapidly when civilians are at risk?

POC starts at home –

Delivering on a pro-active and robust POC-response can only be achieved at home – in three ways: (i) at home in NY – with misson planning & (ii) with TCCs own preparations and (iii) in-country, by host nations.

• Any mandate needs to be based on a solid analysis of conflict dynamics, and the threats to civilians, including scenarios of possible developments. Without such an analysis – the UN and the Security Council will get it wrong.

• Building on this, it needs to be clear what is needed from a military capability perspective. In far too many cases, decisions are made on the basis of a crude analysis, driven more by what the market can bear – than the capabilities that are necessary to deliver.

• Any in-depth threat assessment needs to be supplemented with a critical analysis of infrastructure in the country, and challenges in relation to climate, terrain, logistics and supply lines. This is about support capabilities. You can have many troops, but if you don’t have mobility, you will fail.

• Too many times, missions are designed on the basis of blue print approaches, and not tailored to country conditions. The threat analysis needs to determine the structure of the force and the force lay-down, must be adapted to mobility and responsiveness, tailored to the context.

The key is flexibility and adaptability:

• We need to move away from static deployments in areas of operations, with more flexible and mobile operations, adaptable to changing circumstances; For this to happen, you need significant mobility assets and you need to move to smaller high capability units in tents…..

• When – because of the urgency of crisis – there is no time to do this, then we need to look at immediate responses, and a more sequenced mandating process, making sure one gets it right over time.

Example – UNMISS: In South Sudan, anyone with military background would know that the resources did not match the mandate or the context, – under normal operations in South Sudan – prior to the crisis. We had the lowest number of soliders per kilometer or mile, overall compared with any other mission with a similar mandate, and with very limited mobility and capability assets: and if you compared with infantry – it was even worse. UNMISS was also without military helicopters for 14 months…

The assets were not fit for purpose, and the lay-down did not correspond to the threats. I conveyed this to the Security Council several times. After the crisis in Dec 2013, of course, the situation was even worse, with glaring gaps in capacity and capabilities.

So – we need to get it right from the outset.

The same information on threats and constraints, on context (which provides the basis for the decisions of the Security Council and the design of the Mission), should also be available to potential TCCs. POC starts at home – in their capitals.

• With in-depth understanding, they can take an informed decision on whether they are ready to engage pro-actively to protect civilians in relation to these scenarios;

• When they have decided to do so – they need to prepare their troops optimally, train them for the purpose, and make sure that they bring COE that corresponds to the situation, and not the standard set-up.

• They also need to commit to take risk – to deliver on the mandate, and prepare their troops to do so.

Example UNMISS: In UNMISS, we experienced not only that our capabilities were not matching the threats. The military component in NY never asked for what was most urgently needed – all-terrain vehicles, – because – as they said – no one has them, except some Western countries – and they will not provide them…. These are among the things I really hope that the Biden-initiative on force generation will help resolve. Even worse, most of the APCs were dysfunctional of one contingent, but also that the equipment they brought was not fit for purpose. It got stuck in the mud.

POC at home – in-country: The government remains the primary responsible actor to protect its own civilians. Also in this way, POC starts at home. Often, this is not happening. In other cases, their response is inadequate and does not protect the most vulnerable.

A pro-active and robust POC-response by UN-operations can only happen if you have 3 things:

(i) the right information at the right time, (ii) mobility and capability to face the threat and (iii) the mindset to take risk and take action to protect civilians.

1. Right information at the right time:

• A precondition for any POC response, is to have timely and accurate information about the threat. Early warning early enough. Very often very bad in UN missions. Makes us re-active, every time.

• We need to overcome the info-gap! This implies that JOCs and JMACs in Missions need to be empowered with the best possible tools to generate and process information, and to do so quickly. This includes the use of technologies, whether satellite information, drones or other tools. If we are real about our commitment to protect civilians – this is needed. During the worst crisis in South Sudan, we had to get satellite information on the phone from a member state, as we could not get timely satellite photography ourselves.

• Without timely and accurate information we will fail – collectively. Without capabilities and technology to detect threats against civilians, we will fail to deliver. This is not about politics, it is about saving lives.

• Timely and strong situational awareness: intel collection and analysis systems to complement the integrate Early Warning systems of missions; Without early warning, no early action.

• UNMISS Example: Inter-communal violence in Jonglei: we were repeatedly taken by surprise – by numerous attacks in the cycle of violence in Jonglei. When there were columns on the way of 6-8 000 in singular attacks – army formation, they could be detected – but we didn’t have the numbers and capabilities to confront them.

• Due to logistical challenges, the highest numbers of infantry we could get in one place was 900, and 700 in the rainy season. It would take days to deploy this number, so we had to get the timing right. In traditional military terms, we should have been 12-18 000 infantry to face such a threat.

2. Mobility and Capability:

• The UN will never have the full complement of capabilities to face POC threats. We don’t have blanket POC-mandates. However, there needs to be adequate capabilities, mobility assets and an ability to respond that at least has a chance to protect.

• To enable a robust posture: empowered with enabling capacities adapted to terrain and climate (i.e. all-terrain vehicles, including –APCs, riverine units, airlift capacity, attack helis), able to fight any threat to civilians;

• I felt this was not the case for the Mission I was in charge of, UNMISS. With the capabilities and mobility assets we had prior to the crisis, our chances of ever delivering in protecting civilians were very limited.

We had three major problems:

(i) We did not have the numbers we needed – when faced with these types and scale of threats;

(ii) When the numbers (of troops) are not at all commensurate to the threat, force enablers and force multipliers are essential to be a credible deterrent in POC-situations, but this was not granted the Mission. We had to make do with what we had.

(iii) The mission was in a perpetual mobility crisis. We were literally stuck in the mud. Even in the dry season – which was shorter than the rainy season in the most critical locations where civilians are under threat, we had major mobility challenges.

• In many cases, a Quick Reaction Force that is mobile and with special forces capabilities can have better chances of success than a large static force, but then one needs the right capabilities and mobility assets, and not least early warning early enough – and accurately;

• More must be done to get high quality equipment with contingents – Inspections of functionality every quarter, and old equipment to be replaced with new and more functional equipment (obligatory – part of MOU);

• This was one of the reasons why we ended up opening our gates tocivilians fleeing for their lives – 10-11 times prior to the most recent crisis, and when the conflict started in December 2013. It was a last resort, a default-ption, but it was the only remaining one when we could not protect civilians in any other way.

• This is fraught with challenges and problems. But the alternative would have been that thousands were killed. We can just imagine what the story had been then, about the failure of the UN to act faced with massive atrocities.

3. Mindsets – the willingness to respond and take risk: 3 Cs.

• Command – unified command in every Mission to be respected by all contingents, and parallel command structures to be avoided;

• Caveats – national caveats: Performance is directly linked to national caveats, where capital – the home – instructs forces not to follow instructions from Mission leadership, or from the very outset introduce conditionalities for their contributions.

• Control of aviation assets: Military helicopters should not be subject to ICAO-rules; MedEvacs: Without credible MedEvacs, contingents will not take risks. Mandatory: night-vision equipment – it is unacceptable that this does not exist in many missions.

• Reporting on POC-incidents: There are significant differences between contingents and their willingness to take risk and to take action in the protection of civilians. Some are impressive in their performance, others are not. Reporting on this is sensitive, and while Missions should report failure to perform to DPKO in NY, it will have to be the UN-leadership that takes this forward with the TCCs and the Security Council. Mechanisms for such reporting should probably be considered.

To sum up:

Delivering on POC does not start in the field, but at home – This is about flexibility and adaptability at NYHQ and in the Council, as well as among TCCs and host governments. The key is flexibility and adaptability, on both sides.

To deliver on POC, three things need to be addressed: (i) getting the right information at the right time, (ii) mobility and capabilities (iii) mindsets. Doing one and not the other will not help.

All these aspects need to be addressed, systematically and comprehensively. Only then will we have a chance of succeeding, and meeting the expectations of those who need protection.


Remarks by Lamin M. Manneh, UN Resident Cordinator, at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Lamin M. Manneh, UN Resident Coordinator, on the occasion of the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians
Kigali, 28 May 2015

• Nyakubahwa, His Excellency, Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda;
• All protocols observed.

Mbere na mbere nagira ngo mbasuhuze. MWARAMUTSE NEZA? First of all, Good Morning, Bonjour.

To the delegates who have come from abroad to attend this important conference, I say “MURAKAZA NEZA MU RWANDA. Welcome to Rwanda, the Country of a Thousand Hills!

Your Excellency, President of the Republic, it gives me great pleasure and honour to be here today to make these brief remarks on behalf of the UN Family on this important occasion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to express at the outset my sincere appreciation and gratitude to His Excellency, President Paul Kagame, and his Government, for organizing this High Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, in conjunction with the TCCs/. Your Excellency, Mr President, gracing this event with your personal presence is another concrete sign that indeed you and the people of Rwanda have at heart the protection of civilians at all times, especially in conflict situations where they are particularly vulnerable, through effective peacekeeping operations.

This conference is timely as it is organized at a time when significant numbers of civilians are again increasingly becoming the victims of various armed conflicts around the world. The earlier serious challenges the UN missions faced in providing security in complex crises such as Somalia, and to protect civilians from mass atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s, tested the fundamental principles and capabilities of UN peacekeeping operations and their underlying principles then and demonstrated that reforms were urgently required. These tragedies indeed have contributed to the reforms in the peace keeping mandates in the subsequent years. Unfortunately, the lessons the world learned from the Rwandan tragedy did not prevent similar atrocities from happening in other areas such as Sudan’s Darfour and many other conflict zones around the world.

But there is at least some comfort that as a result, the UN peacekeeping mandates have changed, as the Security Council has shifted peacekeeping well beyond its traditional role of monitoring the implementation of peace agreements. As you are all no doubt aware, currently, peacekeeping missions are multidimensional, addressing the full spectrum of peacebuilding activities, from providing secure environments to monitoring human rights and rebuilding the capacity of the state.

Increasingly, such mandates also take more aggressive stances, whereby peacekeeping missions are empowered to put more emphasis on the physical protection of civilians, by force if necessary. As a matter of fact, 95% of peacekeepers operate in missions mandated by the Security Council specifically to protect civilians. A good example of this is the Force Intervention Brigade within MONUSCO, as an additional effort towards robust peacekeeping in DRC, even though much more still to be done, including taking military action against the FDLR and other marauding rebel groups. In South Sudan, UNMISS has provided an unprecedented protection to civilians and opened its doors to increasing numbers of displaced persons.

Nevertheless, these positive developments have not translated into systematic and consistent protection of civilians on the ground across the board. Peacekeepers and other key actors often still struggle to deliver on the promise of protection of civilians, even though this is embodied in the very heart of the UN Charter. For this to happen, the protection of civilians in the context of UN Peacekeeping operations must be addressed holistically, with a view to improving the performance of all actors who share a stake in protecting innocent civilians from physical violence. Furthermore, we have to keep in mind that peacekeeping may be effective or robust, but cannot be successful if there is not a political solution on the ground. This requires beeping up the civilian expertise of UN Missions in political affairs, human rights, the rule of law, as well as peacebuilding expertise, alongside military and police officers.

Even though there are still many challenges in the protection of civilians in conflict situations, it is important to recognize the tens of thousands of UN peacekeepers who put themselves in harm’s way every day in order to protect civilians from indiscriminate physical violence. The UN has known a number of cases of peace keepers who lost their lives while protecting civilians from harm, unselfishly putting their lives on the line. We respectfully remember those heroes, among them a number of Rwandans peace keepers.

At this point, I would like to particularly commend Rwanda for its important contribution to Peace Support Operations in many parts of the World and in Africa in particular, despite its limited resources. As you are all aware, Rwanda is currently the 5th biggest contributor to peace keeping operations after Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, with a total of 5,575 personnel, including the police, military experts and troops. This is indeed admirable.

Rwanda has held chairmanships in a number of Security Council subsidiary bodies, including the Ad-Working group on conflict prevention in Africa as well as the co-chairmanship of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect. During its 2013-2014 term in the UN Security Council Chairmanship, Rwanda demonstrated strong commitment to the protection of civilians, as demonstrated by its effective chairmanship of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations. There is now increasing consensus that the best way to protect civilians from armed conflict is to prevent conflicts in the first place.

It is for this reason that we should also commend Rwanda for its strong prevention efforts both here and abroad. In this regard, it is notable that during presidency of the Security Council in 2013-2014 it organized many activities around the theme conflict prevention by addressing its root causes. This is echoed in what His Excellency President Paul Kagame said last September at the 69th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly and I quote: “Thus, our task in the international community is not just managing conflicts, but helping to prevent and end those conflicts. If we focus on keeping people safe, and bringing them together to solve their problems, we will be able to do so” {End of Quote}.

Allow me to conclude my remarks by quoting the UN Secretary General. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who recently said and I quote: “We must enhance the international system’s capacities to prevent and resolve conflicts in order to create the conditions for a peaceful, more prosperous world. We owe this to the generations lost in this and numerous other wars; we above all owe it to our children and future generations” {End of Quote}.

The UN system will always work with governments and development partners and civil society organisations around the globe, to put in place systems that ensure sustainable peace in conflicts prone areas, and to create an environment conducive for sustainable development. As we move from the MDGs to the Sustainable Development Goals era, the protection of civilians in conflicts situations should be among the most important areas of concern at the global level. This Conference is therefore very timely and pertinent.

I cannot conclude my remarks without, saluting once more the dedicated leadership and strong commitment of his Excellency President Paul Kagame towards peace and security in Africa and around the world. I would also like to reiterate our gratitude to the Government of Rwanda for associating the UN with this important event and to all the other TCC/ for their demonstrated commitment to peace building and conflict prevention throughout the world. I trust that this conference will come up with concrete recommendations that will help improve the protection of civilians in conflicts situations where ever they arise across the world. I sincerely wish you very fruitful deliberations.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Murakoze Cyane, Merci Beaucoup, Sucran.


Remarks by President Paul Kagame at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Kigali, 28 May 2015

I wish to thank you all for joining us today. For those visiting our country, a very warm welcome to Rwanda. It is a pleasure for me to be here to open these deliberations on the protection of civilians.

This is the right time and place for this conference. And most certainly, this is the right title for it.

The central purpose of peace operations is the protection of civilians. This cannot be said often enough. It is not the protection of peace agreements or U.N. mandates, even peacekeepers for that matter, much less the protection of politicians. The mission is to protect the ordinary people most at risk.

Africa, and Rwanda in particular, is the right place for us to meet and have this discussion.

Africa is now the biggest U.N. troop contributor. But this is nothing to boast about, given that 80 per cent of the world’s peacekeepers are also deployed on the continent. So when we talk about the future of peace support operations, we are essentially talking about Africa.

As for Rwanda, the international community’s decision to walk away from a genocide in progress in 1994 was not only a disgrace but a disaster that had to be reckoned with. The new norm of a ‘responsibility to protect’ is the outcome of this soul-searching, putting civilians at the top of the agenda where they belong.

This is also the right time for this discussion, because we are not there yet in terms of implementation and effectiveness. Deployment is too slow. Vague mandates and unclear rules of engagement many times inhibit decisive action to protect civilians. The capabilities of regional organisations need to be further enhanced.

The High-Level Summit that I had the opportunity to co-chair together with other leaders at the United Nations last September focused attention on these and other important issues.

The follow-up summit later this year is an opportunity to see how we can continue to improve and also put solutions into place. The recommendations of the High-Level International Panel on Peace Operations will be of critical importance to these efforts, and Rwanda extends its full support to the panel’s mission.

While taking nothing for granted about how far we have come, I would nevertheless like to challenge this group to look beyond to other strategic objectives.

After all, keeping people safe from harm is the minimum standard to expect. There are two other important variables: The number of conflicts prevented, and the number of peacekeeping missions successfully ended.

To make progress towards these more ambitious metrics, we need to enrich our approach in two specific ways.

First, beyond the obvious moral imperative, there is also a practical reason why the protection of civilians is so central to peacebuilding: People need to be able to stay together, and talk to each other, for however long it takes to find lasting solutions to their own problems.

Without security, it is impossible to conduct the inclusive dialogue and consensus-building upon which every sustainable post-conflict transition rests.

This means tackling the hardest challenges first. Peacebuilding cannot be a euphemism for wishful thinking or procrastination in addressing root causes of conflict.

These convictions were the basis for Rwanda’s own journey of recovery, and also informed our interpretation of the protection mandate, for example, in the Central African Republic.

Each situation must be examined carefully in its own context. Matters of national cohesion cannot be defined by others, nor can solutions be dictated and implemented from outside.

What we can do as the international community is work to create a secure enabling environment, while ensuring that the necessity to protect civilians does not get lost in ideological debates. Building on that, we can provide other necessary support.

If we don’t, there will never be a good moment for the peacekeepers to return home, and the burdens on the international system will definitely continue to grow.

Second, collective action aimed at prevention is entirely compatible with national sovereignty. Sovereignty, after all, is fundamentally about responsibility for the security and well-being of citizens. The best way to protect them is to prevent conflict in the first place.

That responsibility lies first and foremost with the state concerned, but it does not stop there. Of course, military intervention is always the last option. Before that point, other forms of engagement can also be effective, provided we act early enough. We therefore need to keep improving our ability to detect, and share, critical information about threats to civilian life.

We all have a stake in more effective peacebuilding. The effects of bad governance have direct consequences on neighbours, and even the world as a whole, all the more so as the pace of globalisation accelerates.

There is no clash between African and Western norms on this point. The Constitutive Act of the African Union authorises intervention in extreme cases. The strongest voices and quickest action nowadays come from Africa itself. When African institutions are full partners in peace operations, we can address urgent situations with the necessary speed and legitimacy.

What is clear is that the next stages on the journey must be taken by all of us together. The first step is to keep the security and well-being of citizens at the top of our agenda.


Download President Kagame’s remarks here.


Welcoming Remarks by Rwanda’s Minister of Defence at the International Conference on the Protection of Civilians

Welcoming remarks by James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence, Republic of Rwanda

Kigali, 28 May 2015

Your Excellency the President of the Republic;
Mr. Lamin Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator;
Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegations;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Let me on the outset most sincerely thank H.E The President of The Republic, for finding time to be with us this morning. The fact that you took time off your busy schedule, to be The Guest of Honour to this High Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, underlines the importance you attach to protection of vulnerable civilians in armed conflicts.

Allow me Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, to welcome all Delegations and Guests to Kigali and for honouring our invitation to attend this important meeting.

As most of you may recall, the Protection of Civilians Conference is a follow-up to the High Level Summit on Peacekeeping, co-hosted by Rwanda and four other Troop and Financial contributing countries, which was held in September last year in the margins of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.

For this High Level Conference, Rwanda has invited the top 30 Troop/Police contributing countries and 10 top Financial contributing countries, to share their invaluable experience and challenges that we face in the field, toward effective protection of civilians. This two-day Conference comprises of five thematic sessions, for which we have invited several knowledgeable and experienced people to serve as speakers and moderators. They will lead us toward invaluable deliberations and way forward. We thank you all for being with us.

Let me take this opportunity to inform you that H.E. José Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, and Mr. Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), who were scheduled to deliver remarks during the opening session, will join us at a later stage, due to flight delays. Hon Louise Mushikiwabo will not be able to join us due to other urgent duties.

Mr. Lamin Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator, will deliver remarks on behalf of the United Nations, followed by the Guest of Honour, who will deliver His Keynote address and formally open this High Level International Conference on the Protection of Civilians.

Once again join me in thanking His Excellency The President of The Republic for gracing this Conference as our Guest of Honour and in welcoming all our guests.