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Protection of civilians in armed conflict

Children in a camp for internally displaced persons, West Darfur, Sudan © UN Photo/Fred NoyIn her address to the UN Security Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, “Peace and security will not be achieved or sustained without paying due attention to redressing grievances, ending impunity, and protecting the human rights of civilians.”

Commissions of inquiry, she said, are a very effective mechanism that can be used to guarantee accountability for those responsible for violations.  Pillay noted that the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and the Secretary-General have on several occasions established commissions, which have greatly contributed to ensuring accountability for human rights violations committed against the civilian population. National governments, she said may also establish commissions of inquiry to carry out human rights investigations.

Violence can also be prevented, Pillay said, by monitoring human rights situations and sounding an alarm when violence appears imminent.

Pillay identified in her address several countries where the protection of civilians has been and remains of great concern:  in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Guinea, Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, Kyrgyzstan, Israel and the oPt, Sri Lanka, and in Sudan.

Read the full text of the High Commissioner’s speech

13 July 2010