Historical archive

Civilians must be better protected in armed conflicts

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“It is the civilian population that is hardest hit in armed conflicts. We must ensure better protection of civilians,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide at the opening of the conference on civilian protection in Austria.

“It is the civilian population that is hardest hit in armed conflicts. We must ensure better protection of civilians,” said Norwegian Foreign MinisterEspen Barth Eide at the opening of the conference on civilian protection in Austria. 

Mr Eide and Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger hosted the European conference in a series entitled “Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians under International Humanitarian Law” on the protection of civilians under international humanitarian Law on Thursday 21 February. Over the years, a strong body of international law has been developed that sets out clearly the duty of parties to a conflict to protect the civilian population. 

“The fact that civilians are so hard hit in armed conflicts is often due to lack of knowledge of or lack of respect for the rules. We must ensure that the parties to a conflict are aware of the rules and that those who violate them are held accountable,” said Mr Eide in his opening speech. 

“It is also a fact that those who want to respect humanitarian law find it very difficult to do so in the complex conflicts we are seeing today, where a number of different actors are engaged, many of whom do not respect international law. It is therefore very important to engage in concrete discussions of how we should implement the rules on civilian protection in practice,” Mr Eide said. 

The conference is the fourth and last in a series of regional conferences that bring together military experts, humanitarian organisations and other actors with broad experience from work in the field in areas of conflict. The objective is to draw up practical measures that will improve the situation for civilians caught up in armed conflicts. The previous conferences in the series were held in Indonesia, Argentina and Uganda. This process will culminate in a global conference, which will be held in Oslo 23–24 May 2013.