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Comprehensive Review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

05-11-2007 Statement

United Nations, General Assembly, 62nd session, Fourth Committee, Item 34 of the agenda, Statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), New York, 5 Novembre 2007

Mr Chairman,

Over the years, the spectrum of United Nations peace-keeping operations has become increasingly broad. The multifaceted nature of these operations, the emerging concept of integrated missions and the ever more difficult and violent environments in which UN forces operate have highlighted how important it is for the United Nations to develop a coherent framework embracing the complexity of contemporary peace-keeping operations. Accordingly, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) takes note of the reform process, entitled " Peace Operations 2010 " , launched by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 2006 and expresses its availability to share its expertise on matters of common interest. 

Mr. Chairman,

Interaction between the United Nations and the ICRC has developed considerably both at headquarters level and in the field, in particular with regard to operational issues and the promotion of and training in international humanitarian law. Cooperation is all the more essential since UN peacekeepers have been frequently deployed in countries still plagued by armed conflict and have sometimes been involved in hostilities or law-enforcement operations. Consequently, the ICRC considers it extremely important that UN peacekeepers be fully acquainted with and adhere scrupulously to the rules of international humanitarian law and other relevant bodies of law, such as human rights law.

The ICRC has on various occasions shared its observations regarding the applicability of international humanitarian law to UN peace-keeping forces. It has always been the ICRC's view that UN peacekeepers must observe international hu manitarian law when conditions for its applicability are met. Such a position is also reflected in the UN Secretary-General's Bulletin on " Observance by United Nations forces of international humanitarian law " of 6 August 1999.

The ICRC is confident that the guiding documents drafted in the framework of the DPKO reform process will stipulate a clear commitment to respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and include proper references to that body of law. In addition, the ICRC considers that subordinate documents such as rules of engagement, standard operating procedures, guidelines or manuals as well as standards of education and training for UN peacekeepers should adequately integrate international humanitarian law references when appropriate.

The ICRC would also welcome that the relevant UN documents require that the necessary steps be taken to ensure that the role and activities of the ICRC, stemming from the mandate conferred on it by the community of States, are respected, facilitated and well understood by all components of the UN peace-keeping operations.

    

Mr. Chairman,

The ICRC remains convinced that sound training in international humanitarian law has a preventive value and offers significant operational benefits for UN peace-keeping operations. The ICRC has already observed the positive steps taken by the United Nations in this area. In its capacity as promoter and guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC stands ready, now as ever, to continue to lend its support and expertise for the training of UN peacekeepers, as it has already done in various contexts.

    

    

Mr Chairman,

Recent Security Council resolutions tend to incorporate the protection of civilian population as a standard element of the peace-keeping operations. In carrying out those mandates, UN peacekeepers indeed often play a significant role in ensuring the protection and security of civilians and even in facilitating access to humanitarian assistance in the areas where they are deployed. In this respect, the ICRC considers that the military and security dimension of UN peacekeepers'" protection activities " should be clearly distinguished from protection activities conducted by humanitarian actors. The ICRC would like to underline the need to preserve neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action that solely aims at ensuring that victims are assisted and protected according to their needs. The ICRC has always respected these fundamental principles within the framework of its activities. It also strongly believes that political or military action, on the one hand, and, humanitarian activities on the other must be kept separate and distinct inasmuch as their conflation could result in confusion detrimental to humanitarian work and to the safety of the humanitarian personnel. For this very reason, the ICRC deems it essential that political or military operations, including those carried out under UN auspices, be conceived in such a way as not to erode the neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian operations.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.