The Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney opened the international Civil-Military Affairs Conference, Enhancing the Protection of Civilians in Peace Operations: From Policy to Practice (24-26th May 2011) last night in Canberra.
The Conference will bring together approximately 100 high-level speakers and delegates from the United Nations, the African Union, troop and police contributing countries to United Nations peace operations, representatives from African Peacekeeping training centres, diplomats, the non-government sector, academia and the Australian Government.
The Conference will consider the latest developments in improving the protection of civilians in peace operations.
“This Civil-Military Affairs Conference is the new annual flagship event for the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence.
“It is timely that this Conference considers the protection of civilians in some detail. Protection of civilians is a central area of focus for the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence.
The Centre has recently begun to develop protection of civilians doctrine for the Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Policy and is producing a documentary about the protection of civilians with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research,” Senator Feeney said.
Under the leadership of Major General (Rtd) Michael Smith (AO), the Centre fills a critical gap in developing conflict and disaster management strategies and conceptual frameworks,” Senator Feeney said.
Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence, Major General (Retd) Michael G. Smith AO, said that implementing effective protection was a complex undertaking. It requires coordinated planning by civilian, military and police components of a peacekeeping mission, and the necessary allocation of sufficient resources.
“The nature of peacekeeping has undergone a significant transformation since the end of the Cold War”, Major General Smith said.
Major General Smith said: “Missions today occur in challenging and rapidly evolving operating environments. Increasingly, the central objective modern peacekeeping is to ensure the protection of civilians against imminent threat; to avoid future tragedies like Rwanda and Srebrenica; and to assist emerging fragile states to build effective protection regimes that are appropriate to their culture.”
The Centre’s mission is to support the development of our national civil-military capabilities to prevent, prepare for and respond more effectively to conflicts and disasters overseas.
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