The mission to build a body of expertise for the Protection of Civilians (POC) has become a major challenge to peace operations throughout the world. The last ten years have brought to the fore a focus on the rights of civilian populations. In this time, the United Nations (UN)
and the African Union have made considerable progress to strengthen POC effectiveness.
Yet challenges remain. Armed conflict is still prevalent around the world, civilians comprise the majority of casualties, and the need for global POC strategies is vital. Protection is a broad term and activities falling under it require a comprehensive approach involving all actors involved in an operational area. These include international organisations, national governments, local communities, non-governmental organisations, military, police, and civilian personnel.
Considerations on POC policy was the theme of the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence’s inaugural Civil Military Affairs Conference (CMAC), held in Queanbeyan from 24-26 May 2011. Enhancing the Protection of Civilians in Peace Operations: From Policy to Practice considered the latest developments to improve POC effectiveness and the impact they have on the security and rights of civilians in conflict zones, including those of women and children.
CMAC brought together approximately 200 international protection experts – including both policy makers and practitioners – to discuss and understand the implications of recent protection reforms and build a shared understanding for catalysing POC in peace operations. The conference took stock of recent developments in UN policies and their implementation, sought an understanding of the protection responsibilities of civilian, military and police actors in peace operations, and attempted to identify best practices and confirm capabilities required for effective implementation of protection of civilian strategies.