The one week International Course on Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians (POC) attended by 36 military, police and civilians officers from 14 countries, has concluded at Rwanda Peace Academy, in Musanze District, Northern Province, on 16 November 2016. The Course discussed practical approaches to protect civilians’ lives in armed conflicts.
The Course was officially closed by Rwanda Defence Force Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Patrick Nyamvumba. The ceremony was also attended by the Kingdom of Netherlands Defence Attaché, Col Michael C. Meyburg and the US Deputy Defence Attaché, Maj Shawn P. Russel.
In his remarks, the RDF Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Nyamvumba, expressed that lack of capacity and willingness to actively intervene still expose many civilians to deadly risks during armed conflicts. “Protection of civilians in the context of UN Peacekeeping operations must be addressed holistically, with a view to improving the performance of all actors who share a stake in protecting innocent civilians from physical violence”, the CDS pointed.
Gen Nyamvumba explained that the Kigali Principles try to address the most relevant aspects of peacekeeping, including assessment and planning, force generation, training and equipping personnel, performance and accountability. “As we witness increased disrespect for international humanitarian law in today’s conflicts, the Kigali Principles commit peacekeeping forces to never again abandon civilians to armed parties looking to do them harm”, he said.
He urged graduates to use the skills and experiences acquired whenever they will have the opportunity to be in peacekeeping mission or a situation to protect civilians.
Both the Netherlands and US Defence Attachés appreciated the joint effort put together by the US, the Kingdom of Netherlands and the Government of Rwanda to organize such training. They reiterated their commitments to support the Peacekeeping initiatives and to join hands in implementing Kigali Principles on POC.
Maj Muyunda Nyoka from Zambia Defence Force told Media that the Course was very beneficial to participants. “ We have learnt that the duty we have as military is protecting civilians and make it our priority when conflicts break out”. He added that peacekeepers should not fail to protect civilians under pretext that the mandate doesn’t allow them to take action.
Maj Francisca Aholo from Ghana Air Force said that the Kigali Principles were made to improve the existing UN guidelines in POC. “We need to concentrate on Civilians and the Kigali Principles tell us not to hesitate, to delay in everything we have to do in protecting civilians.”
Mrs Lauren Spink from the Center for Civilians in Conflicts in Washington DC (currently detached in Goma/DRC), said that the Kigali Principles are very possible to realise. All it requires is the firm commitment and collaboration of all UN military, police and civilians personnel in Peacekeeping theatres, with support of the Security Council and the UN Secretariat.
The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, adopted in May 2015, are a set of 18 principles, best practices to enhance implementation of civilian protection mandates. They are meant to strengthen the international community’s commitment to effectively protect civilians.
UN Members States that have endorsed the Kigali Principles include: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Canada, Djibouti, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malawi, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Ukraine, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Zambia.