This year, 2019, marks twenty years since the United Nations (UN) Security Council explicitly added the protection of civilians (POC) in armed conflict to its agenda. The decision was followed by the adoption of two seminal resolutions: Resolution 1265 on the protection of civilians, adopted in September 1999, and Resolution 1270, which authorized the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone with the first explicit mandate to protect civilians from the threat of violence, adopted in October 1999.
To mark the anniversary year, the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) and the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Indonesia, and Switzerland to the UN convened the POC20 Policy Dialogue in July in New York. The event brought together experts from Member States, the UN, non-governmental organizations, and think tanks for a focused and frank discussion on contemporary and recurring issues related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The event was a direct answer to the UN Secretary-General’s recent call for continued dialogue among key stakeholders to advance the POC agenda.
The Policy Dialogue focused on four key themes: 1) prioritizing the protection of civilians at the national level; 2) minimizing harm to civilians in the conduct of hostilities in contemporary conflicts; 3) protecting civilians through UN peacekeeping operations; and 4) engaging with conflict-affected communities to improve protection. POC20: Twenty Years of the Protection of Civilians – Challenges, Progress, and Priorities for the Future provides an overview of the discussions on each of the four thematic areas, highlights cross-cutting concerns and issues that emerged during the event, and offers priority recommendations and questions for policymakers to advance the POC agenda on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary.