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UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Published February 1, 2015

The Human Rights Unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) prepares mid-year reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, as mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2096 (2013), which "recognizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and reporting to the United Nations Security Council on the situation of civilians in Afghanistan's armed conflict and in particular on civilian casualties."

Recommendations from the 2014 report

Anti-Government Elements

In compliance with obligations under international humanitarian law:

 Cease carrying out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and firing mortars, rockets and grenades into civilian-populated areas.

  • Cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian objects including places of worship and culture, and civilian Government offices.
  • Cease the use of IEDs, particularly suicide attacks in all areas frequented by civilians, and stop using illegal pressure-plate IEDs.
  • Apply a definition of ‘civilian(s)’ that is consistent with international humanitarian law and comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in all military operations.
  • Enforce statements made by the Taliban leadership that prohibit attacks against civilians and attacks in civilian-populated areas. Implement directives ordering Taliban members to prevent and avoid civilian casualties and hold accountable those members who target, kill and injure civilians.

 

 Government of Afghanistan

  • Cease firing mortars, rockets and grenades into civilian-populated areas.
  • Enhance efforts to protect civilians from conflict-related harm by developing and implementing clear tactical directives, rules of engagement and other procedures, and by training and resourcing all Afghan national security forces on civilian protection measures, mitigation, accountability, and compensation for victims. 
  • Disband and disarm all armed groups and ensure accountability for those members of armed groups who carry out human rights abuses.
  • Prioritize the further development of Afghan national security forces’ capacity to command, control and effectively conduct counter-IED operations and IED-disposal, including exploitation. Dedicate all necessary resources to ensure the full implementation of the national counter-IED strategy.
  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure the marking and clearance of unexploded ordnance from the battlefield following ground engagements.
  • Investigate all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and human rights abuses by Afghan national security forces and Pro-Government armed groups and allied forces. Prosecute and punish those found responsible as required under Afghan and international law.
  • Review and revise current procedures in place for compensation to women and families of civilians killed and injured in conflict-related violence and raise public awareness of procedures to obtain compensation and access to basic services.

International Military Forces

  • Provide support from the NATO Resolute Support Mission to Afghan national security forces beyond 2015 to ensure Afghan forces are sufficiently resourced, trained and equipped in the current operational context. Continue support to Afghan security forces to command, control and effectively conduct counter-IED operations and IED-disposal, including exploitation in 2015-17.
  • Continue efforts to map, mark and ensure full clearance of unexploded ordnance from all international military bases and firing ranges that have closed since the onset of ISAF operations.
  • Ensure that all international military or foreign intelligence and security forces operating in Afghanistan, either independently or in support to Afghan security forces, take all necessary measures to protect civilians during ground and aerial operations.
  • Continue to ensure transparent post-operation reviews and investigations following operations where civilian casualties have occurred from operations involving international security or intelligence forces. Continue to take appropriate steps to ensure accountability, compensation and better operational practice.

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