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NP at Protection of Civilians Week

Date: June 1, 2023

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, NP's Advocacy team co-organized an event on community protection as a part of the annual Protection of Civilians Week (PoC Week) at the United Nations.

The event, Strengthening Protection of Civilians through Community-led Approaches, was put together with HPG/ODI and Oxfam along with the UN Permanent Missions of Australia, El Salvador, Netherlands, and the Philippines.

"We [the Philippines] therefore support all efforts, including those led by the United Nations in protecting civilians affected by armed conflicts and ensuring the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personal to civilians in armed conflict."

"This comprehensive approach includes developing a response capacity with local actors to mitigate threats including: building community resilience and early warning mechanisms based on community protection plans."

HE Antonio M. Revilla Lagdameo, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN, gives opening remarks while HE Lopez and HE Fifield look on.

"When we re-centre civilians in how we understand protection, we re-orient where agency and power is found. We start to disrupt some of the power asymmetries that often characterise protection initiatives, where ‘protection actors’ are separate to communities and wield power-over, rather than power-with."

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Felicity Gray, Global Head of Policy and Advocacy, Nonviolent Peaceforce

"The first time, we found it very hard to approach the communities because they expected us to have weapons in order to do protection. We told them our weapons are our knowledge and awareness raising on the community level."

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Left on screen: Hannan Mahmoun, community leader in Juba IDP camp 3, South Sudan
Right on screen: Sunday Stephen, National Protection Officer, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Juba IDP camp 3, South Sudan 

"Recognizing the centre of our approach to civilian protection must be grounded in community engagement and support rather than replacing the local protection and coping mechanisms; increased collaboration with actors is encouraged in the context of peacekeeping operations where an unarmed approach can build a bridge between peacekeepers and community members."

On screen: Norbert Niyodusenga, UNMISS, Protection, Transition, and Reintegration Section, Wau, South Sudan  

Sara Mohammed Sulaiman, NP National Officer, North Darfur,  Sudan
video produced for and played at event

"Critically, the needs of communities, and their agency in shaping their engagement with
armed actors, must be central to decisions about if, how, and when international actors
support engagement."

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On screen: Gemma Davies, Senior Research Fellow,  HPG/Overseas Development Institute

"We [the Netherlands] strongly believe that community should be in the driver's seat to determine our needs and possible solutions at all levels of action; whether it be local, national, regional, or international. It is a shared effort by member states to work together to provide support and financial aid to peacekeeping missions to protect civilians."

Marjolijn Luchtmeijer, Dept of Stabilization and Humanitarian Aid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands 

"Civilians are not passive actors, simply waiting for assistance. They are key agents in implementing strategies for their own self protection, that of their families, and their communities."

Amra Lee, Senior Humanitarian Advisor, Permanent Mission of Australia  responds to speakers while HE Mitch Fifield looks on.

"We must listen, understand, and make your part from the UN in the field of civilian protection."

HE Egriselda Aracely González López, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of El Salvador facilitates open discussion.

"Civilians are not passive actors, they have agency. Local governments, national governments, mandate questions all comes together under the one idea of protecting civilians."

HE Mark Zellenrath, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Netherlands
You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.