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Report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, October 2007

Published October 28, 2007



Report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, October 2007

"1. The present sixth report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict is submitted in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1674 (2006) and 1738 (2006). Resolution 1674 (2006) marked a watershed in the protection of civilians by providing a clear framework for action by the Council and the United Nations in this area -- action that is as critical and necessary today as it was eight years ago, when the Council considered the first report on the protection of civilians.

2. The present report provides an update on progress made inimplementing resolution 1674 (2006) and strengthening the framework for the protection of civilians elaborated by the Council and other partners in recent years. It takes stock of positive developments and ongoing or new concerns that affect civilians in conflict situations around the world. In doing so, it highlights four challenges of particular importance to us all: the denial of life-saving access to civilians in need;
the abhorrent practice of sexual violence in conflicts and its devastating impact on individuals and communities; the critical need to address more consistently the impact of conflict on housing, land and property; and the importance of eliminating the unacceptable humanitarian toll of cluster munitions. The report ends by proposing a set of key actions for the Security Council's consideration, all aimed at further strengthening the protection framework in areas that require more prompt and systematic action.

3. My visits to a number of conflict-affected countries have convinced me that for those displaced and victimized by war, our actions matter far more than our words. Their plight has left me with a deep sense of responsibility to ensure that where we cannot prevent armed conflict, the protection of civilians is, and must remain, an absolute priority: for me, as Secretary-General, for the United Nations, for the Security Council and, above all, for the Member States, with which the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lies. Enshrined in all major moral, religious, and legal codes, and not specific to any particular culture or tradition, the protection of civilians is a human, political and legal imperative that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. It is a cause that unites us all in the responsibility to protect civilians from abuse, to mitigate the impact of warfare
and to alleviate their suffering."

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