- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - France’s Foreign Minister says his country will host a conference on the protection of children in armed conflict early next year.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday that the conference would take place in Paris in February 2017 at a ministerial level.

Ayrault, whose country currently holds the rotating Security Council presidency, made his remarks during a session devoted to the role of U.N. peacekeepers protecting civilians in armed conflict.

Ayrault said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the protection of civilians shows that humanitarian law is increasing being ignored by parties to conflicts, but he expressed confidence that, when properly prepared, U.N. peacekeepers have shown that they can successfully protect civilians.

Ayrault also echoed French President Francoise Holland’s call for the Security Council to suspend the use of the veto afforded only to its five permanent members - the U.S. Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France - in the case of mass atrocities.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the council that it must improve reporting coming back from various U.N. peacekeeping missions so that it can respond to abuses and failures in the field.

She pointed to a 2014 survey that found 507 incidents between 2010 and 2013 when U.N. peacekeepers failed to use force to prevent attacks on civilians, noting that not one of those incidents was reported back to the Security Council.

“Without reporting, impunity persists,” she said.

Power also cited the long time it took for the council to become aware of the government of Sudan’s continuing blockage of vital supplies and equipment to keep them from reaching peacekeepers.

She said peacekeepers could not protect civilians if they are unable to protect themselves, and called the council’s inability to address the situation in Sudan “a shameful failure.”

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