Speaking at a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres urged governments to protect civilians from violence.
In turn he presented a report outlining three ways governments can step up action.
He noted that last year, more than 26,000 civilians were killed or injured in six countries affected by conflict: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen.
"The most effective way to protect civilians is to prevent conflicts and to end them," Guterres told the Council. "This is why conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding are, and will remain, the highest priorities for the whole United Nations system."
Guterres’s report first calls on governments to develop national policy frameworks to offer more protection for civilians caught up in fighting.
Countries are also asked to support efforts by the UN and others to engage with non-state armed groups to develop practical codes of conduct for them, and action plans that address civilian protection.
Guterres said 17 groups have already signed action plans with the UN on ending child recruitment, adding that "we need more of these initiatives."
Finally, he urged countries to ensure accountability for serious violations to end what he called "the climate of impunity."
Steps include conducting credible national investigations and giving full support to the work of the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes individuals charged with atrocities such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Guterres’s speech highlighted numerous ways lives have been upended by war, such as being subjected to rape and other human rights violations, or enduring the horrors of bombing and shelling in densely populated areas.
More than 108,000 people have been displaced in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year due to conflict and natural disasters, the report said, adding that a total of 108,440 people were displaced between January 1 and May 13, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on May 22.
That is 22,000 more than the previous week. The highest number of displaced people was in eastern Ghazni, where there were some 10,000, followed by northern Baghlan with more than 4,000.
More than 10,000 people were displaced temporarily due to the Taliban taking over parts of Farah city on May 15.
More than 445,000 people were displaced due to conflict in the country in 2017.