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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 40, September - October 1999

UN Report & Resolution on Civilians in Armed Conflict

Presentation of Report by Secretary-General "In statement to Security Council, Secretary-General [Kofi Annan] says plight of civilians in armed conflict can no longer be neglected", UN Press Release SG/SM/7134, September 16, 1999.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to present to the Security Council my report on 'The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict'. This report takes as its starting point the worst acts of humankind and calls for our best efforts to defend civilians where they are most imperilled.

More than just the victims of crossfire, civilians have themselves become targets in today's conflicts. During the past decade, many millions have been killed. Over 30 million have been displaced. Countless men, women and children have been denied access to life-saving food and medicine.

These statistics are made all the more shocking by the calculated methods used by so many belligerents. We have observed, in each of the five continents, that belligerents are increasingly taking care to avoid direct confrontation with each other.

Instead, their favoured strategy to gain ground is the exercise of terror against defenceless civilians. Their actions, regardless of any reason that may motivate their struggle, demonstrate a shocking disregard for human life and human values.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator addressed this issue in January in a meeting of the Security Council. Eight months later, it is fair to ask whether the situation has changed. Has there has been any improvement?

Since January, conflicts have erupted or have been re-ignited or intensified in Angola, Colombia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and East Timor. Each of these situations reminds us, in different ways, of the scale of commitment needed to transform a fragile cease-fire into a secure and stable peace. …

Contained in this report are a total of forty concrete recommendations, which I believe can help to improve the security of civilians in armed conflict. These recommendations provide the Council with tools and strategies, which it can use to respond to particular situations. …

Failure to address these issues will erode respect for the Council's resolutions and so diminish the authority of the United Nations as a whole. More important, it will take away the one thing that sustains the many millions who have lost all in conflict: the hope that something called the international community is willing to uphold the basic dignity of humankind".

For more details of the Secretary-General's Report and Security Council Resolution 1265 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, adopted unanimously in 1999, see the UN website: www.un.org/News/Press/7days.html

Source: UN Press Release, Resolution 1265, SC/6732, September 24.

Africa Arms Register & Database

"Accra Workshop adopts modalities for Arms Register and Database in Africa", UN Press Release AFR/176, DC/2663, September 28, 1999.

"Africa may soon boast one of the most comprehensive Arms Registers on Light Weapons in the world, if the recommendations of a two-day international workshop which closed here on Friday, 24 September, are fully implemented. Africa is one of the first regions in the world to envisage practical measures to reverse the proliferation and misuse of military-style small arms. …"

More details of the Arms Register on the UN website: http://www.un.org/News/Press/7days.html

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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