UN Security Council responses inconsistent: Oxfam

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The UN Security Council has responded inconsistently to crises in which civilians are at risk, acting in some cases but doing nothing in others, a new Oxfam report said Monday.

"In some cases where civilians were under threat, the UNSC acted, whereas in other contexts in did very little or nothing," said the report from the rights group.

Certain countries, such as Somalia, Sudan, Ivory Coast and Afghanistan, were on the council's agenda throughout last year and it passed resolutions including some referring to the protection of civilians, it said.

But Oxfam listed a string of other countries where they deemed that civilians were under threat, but over which the Security Council failed to take appropriate action.

Colombia, where some 280,000 people were displaced due to internal conflict last year, failed to register, and no formal action was taken over the ethnic conflict which killed hundreds in Kyrgyzstan, Oxfam said.

India, Thailand, the Philippines and Turkey were not on the council's agenda despite ongoing conflicts, said the Oxfam report, entitled "Protection of Civilians in 2010: Facts, Figures and the UN Security Council's Response."

The rights group said the Council's 15 member states were hampered in their decision-making by domestic policy considerations, media pressure and a lack of access to information.

"This combination of sometimes competing demands and patchy information too often results in actions that vary greatly between one crisis and another," the report said.

It concluded: "Ultimately, the UNSC must adopt a more consistent approach to protecting civilians in armed conflict, regardless of whether countries are on or off the agenda."

The Security Council has five permanent members with veto power over resolutions and 10 non-permanent members.

© 2011 AFP

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