Civilian protection politicized

Sri Lanka has called on the UN Security Council to hold non-state actors accountable and not politicize the protection of civilians when it comes to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

Speaking at the UN Security Council during a day-long debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona said that although a substantial normative framework had been developed for the protection of civilians, the politicization and selectivity characterizing the debate on implementation had affected its credibility, thereby calling into question the sincerity of the concerns expressed for the plight of civilians affected by armed conflict.

A UN release quoted Dr. Kohona as telling the debate yesterday that his country’s experience in dealing with terrorists that used the civilian population as shields behind which to launch attacks showed the complexity of the challenges involved.

“Many of the rules of war were based on the presumption that parties to a conflict are conventional armies, but terrorists totally disregarded those laws and principles. The causes of armed conflict must also be addressed, including the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he said, adding that there was also a need to recognize the legitimate role of the military in civilian protection, though it was not an exclusive one,” he said.

Meanwhile the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillai, who also spoke at the debate, said there had been unacceptably high civilian losses caused by both sides in Sri Lanka during the war.

She however noted that some progress had been made since the end of the conflict in returning and resettling internally displaced persons but called for concrete initiatives to provide justice and redress to victims, while promoting accountability and longer-term reconciliation. (Daily Mirror online)

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