World Refugee Day 2016 must be an occasion for the global community to recommit itself to the foundational principles enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, as well as in the Geneva Conventions: to uphold and defend the humanity and internationally guaranteed rights of the most vulnerable.
The UN Security Council increasingly recognizes Protection of Civilians as a critical task of UN peacekeepers. And in a growing number of peacekeeping mandates, the Council has proclaimed that PoC is the most important task. More than that, roughly 98% of UN peacekeepers now serve in missions with PoC mandates. As the Uruguayan Undersecretary for External Relations, Amb. Jose Luis Cancela, said at the Security Council this year, “No one is questioning whether the protection of civilians should be a component of peacekeeping organizations; what is basically at issue here is ‘the how’.” It’s this “how” that I’d like to discuss today. When a threat to civilians arises, how can peacekeepers respond? What is the lawful, moral, and effective way to use force?
Earlier this week, some 9,000 participants from around the world gathered in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). The Summit was the brainchild of outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who, during his tenure, has witnessed a humanitarian system strained to the point of breaking.
The huge number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Iraq – and the possibility that by the end of the year there could be two million more – has recently recaptured some attention in the news. In early May, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, declared the humanitarian crisis in Iraq to be “one of the world’s worst”, and the Global Report on Internal Displacement 2016 from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre included the fact that over half of the global total of IDPs reside in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq alone.
Unprecedented humanitarian needs. Worldwide displacement at an all-time high. Throughout it all, Refugees International is there.