On June 25, 2021, CIVIC hosted a discussion on innovative programming & best practices for implementing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the age of COVID-19. This side event was convened on the margins of the 2021 ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS), a platform dedicated to discussing current and emerging humanitarian challenges and priority themes and sharing experiences and lessons learned.

The side-event invited experts from various backgrounds and countries, including actors from the field, civil society, community groups, and the military, to share practical, field-tested recommendations, solutions, and best practices to respond to civilian harm, with the objective of raising awareness on possible changes of policies and practices available to national and local actors to prevent, mitigate and respond to civilian harm.

A year-and-a-half into the COVID-19 pandemic, better implementation of IHL remains central to improve the protection of conflict-affected populations, as they are faced with the dual challenge of violence and the pandemic. Drawing on the experiences of a variety of initiatives including the creation of an internal Civilian Harm Tracking mechanism by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Afghanistan’s local community protection working groups, ICRC’s Health Care in Danger Project, and Canada’s Dallaire Center of Excellence for Peace and Security, speakers and participants walked the audience through different ways local actors can better implement IHL through innovative programming, integrated protection of civilians approaches, and increased engagement with civil-society and communities. Participants also shared action-oriented recommendations for governments, armed actors and the larger humanitarian community.

The side-event was meant to offer a platform to share and learn, and be a catalyst for change to inspire more stakeholders to promote the protection of civilians agenda.

If you are interested in learning more about what actually works in civilian protection you can read the main takeaways from the event here.

We are incredibly grateful to our panelists for their invaluable contribution to this side-event, and to the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva, and to the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva for their co-sponsorship, as well as to the OCHA and ECOSOC HAS organizers.