Protection of Civilians and Displaced People in Modern Warfare

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Justin Luo


Germantown High School
Protection of Civilians and Displaced People in Modern Warfare

Until the grand idea of world peace is accomplished, war will always be a problem for countries. Because of this, the majority of current countries have a standing military. However, when war does break out, the protection of civilians and displaced people must be a top priority for both sides in the war. As stated in Article 57 pf the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Convention, it is a duty for international countries to make sure that “constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians, and civilian object” in international conflicts. Since the concern was first brought up, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has made significant progress towards prosecuting war criminals that violate these laws. Notable cases include the arrest of former Chilean President Pinochet and former Chad’s President Hissein Habre. both on charges of torture of civilians. However, as the complexity of modern conflict increases and puts more civilians at risk, further actions must be put in place in order to protect civilians.

The Central Asian country known today as Kazakhstan was inhabited by the Kazkh people, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes since the 13th century, The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century and was later adopted into the Soviet Republic in 1936. The country during this time saw a vast influx of immigrants, especially the non-Muslim population. However in the 1990s, millions of non-Muslim began emigrating from Kazakhstan and the population today has grown less diverse. In fact, almost 70% of the country today is Muslim. Since then, Kazakhstan has risen as a leading power in the Central Asian region. Kazakhstan has maintained stable peaceful relations with its neighbors and is also a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Since its independence, Kazakhstan has pursued good relations with its powerful neighbors Russia and China. It joined the United Nations in 1992 and in 2014 held a roundtable dedicated to pursuing cooperation with the UN. Also in 2014, Kazakhstan began to take a more prominent role in the UN and sent officers to support peacekeeping missions in Haiti, the Western Sahar, and Côte d’Ivoire.

The protection of civilians has been an important priority of the United Nations. With more civilians becoming victims of armed conflict, a number of peacekeeping operations have been enforced to protect civilians. The UNAMSIL – UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone in 1999 marked the first of these peacekeeping operations. Additionally, organizations including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support are dedicated to protecting civilians. However, the UN has met numerous challenges and high expectations from the public. In the end, it is not only the UN’s responsibility to protect civilians, but also troops and police in the host country as well as the host government. Both the DPKO and DFS need to be extended and receive more funding in order to ensure the protection of civilians. Additionally, the Security Council of the UN needs to become more efficient in responding to crises around the world where civilians are at harm.

Kazakhstan strongly supports the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations and will offer to send support in terms of capital and man power. It has spoken to numerous Presidents around the world, including President Obama and united Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron about international peacekeeping efforts and protecting civilians. Furthermore, Kazakhstan prioritizes the safety of civilians in modern warfare, as seen in its peacekeeping actions during the Iraq War. Since the number of civilian causalities has been on the rise in recent years, increasing pressure has been put on the United Nations to effectively deal with the problem. Since 1999, the Security Council has conducted numerous protection of civilian (POC) meetings in order discuss these matters. Currently, the council is dealing with Afghanistan’s increasing civilian causalities, which numbered over 10,000 in 2014. Additionally, concerns have risen over the civilian population in Syria, Nigeria, and Chad where civil wars puts these people at harm.

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