“Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is a method for the direct protection of civilians and violence reduction that has grown in practice and recognition. In the last few years, it has especially proven its effectiveness to protect women and girls (p. 153).”

Our work is a focus in Global Study on Women, Peace and Security, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace, launched yesterday at the UN (click here to read it).

The study, commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, commemorates the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Security Council’s groundbreaking resolution on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325) by recommending ways forward including that the UN in collaboration with Member States (see p. 157):

Promote women’s empowerment and non-violent means of protection.

• Scale up their support to unarmed civilian protection (UCP) in conflict-affected countries, including working alongside peace operations.

The report further notes that women make up between 40-50% of deployed civilian protectors, a percentage much higher than in UN peacekeeping missions and specifically highlights NP’s work in South Sudan.

The 70th anniversary of the UN was ushered in by a crescendo of high level reports and initiatives. The UN Secretary-General appointed three high level panels to review and recommend changes to the UN peace operations, peace building architecture and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. UN member countries and numerous global civil society groups also developed a set of sustainable development goals to serve as bench marks to guide the work of the UN over the next 15 years.

 (Published Oct. 14, 2015)

At this critical juncture, peace, unarmed approaches and, specifically unarmed civilian protection (UCP) have received unprecedented attention and loomed large in these deliberations.

Cora Weiss, UN Representative, International Peace Bureau remarked “I have never seen a concept advance so far in four years at the UN as unarmed civilian protection.”     

The report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations asserted in their June report to the UN Secretary-General that “unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN approaches to protect civilians.” They recognized the effectiveness of nonviolent practices and recommended:

In view of the positive contributions of unarmed civilian protection actors, missions should work more closely with local communities and national and international non-governmental organizations in building a protective environment.[1]

And the Sustainable Development Goal #16 promoting Just, Peaceful and Inclusive Societies sets the overall context for the implementation of the above recommendations acknowledging that the other 16 Sustainable Development goals can only be realized in a world of peace and security and respect for human rights. In fact, UCP could well become a significant new tool to help operationalize SDG #16.

These reports, recommendations and goals elevate the concept and credibility of UCP, now providing us with a solid international platform on which to scale up. NP will shift our advocacy focus from recognition to implementation. Supported by several Member States, we have begun working with the UN Department of Peacekeeping and other UN agencies exploring ways to operationalize the recommendations through training, closer collaboration, inclusion in Security Council mandates and advocacy for increased funding.

We are all humbled by the cascading human needs witnessed on NP’s frontlines and now witnessed on the roads and railways of Europe. Many of us, now numbering in the thousands, have devoted our treasures, intellect, spirits and lives to developing UCP. We have the methodology. We have the credibility and recognition. We must now scale up commensurate to the levels of need. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Our work has just begun.

[1]Report of High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations, Uniting our Strengths for Peace-Politics, Partnerships and People, June 2015, p.p. 23, 27.

Photo: Top Right: Nonviolent Peaceforce staff.

Photo: Below: Women's Peacekeeping Team marching in South Sudan.

Women's Peacekeeping Team marching in South Sudan.

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.

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