25 Years of POC and the UN Security Council: Challenges and Opportunities

On Monday, May 20th, the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, in partnership with IPI, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Mozambique to the UN, the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), is hosting a policy forum on “25 Years of POC and the UN Security Council: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Remarks will begin at 10:30am EDT

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This year marks 25 years since the Security Council first recognized the protection of civilians (POC) as a matter of international peace and security. Since then, POC has become widely institutionalized within the council’s work, as well as the UN more broadly, elevated as a core issue on the council’s agenda, and designated as a priority among mandated peacekeeping tasks.

At the same time, POC continues to face significant challenges resulting from flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws (IHL/IHRL), including by some UN member states. These violations not only have devastating consequences for civilians in conflict settings but are also a symptom of an erosion of the normative frameworks that underpin the international system. This erosion calls into question the role of the UN Security Council in protecting and upholding such norms, especially as in some cases council members have been directly or indirectly involved in violations.

The purpose of this event is to take stock of the council’s engagement with POC over the past 25 years and assess opportunities for it to further strengthen POC norms amid contemporary political and security challenges. This conversation also takes place as the international community prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, presenting an opportune moment for wider reflection on the fundamental principles of IHL/IHRL that underpin the POC agenda.

Naz K. Modirzadeh, Professor of Practice, Founding Director, Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Harvard Law School
Laetitia Courtois, Permanent Observer and Head of Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Hichem Khadhraoui, Executive Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Edem Wosornu, Director, Operations and Advocacy Division (OAD), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Adam Lupel, Vice President and COO, International Peace Institute

Closing remarks:
H.E. Pascale Christine Baeriswyl, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN