Challenges of Strengthening the Protection of Civilians in Multidimensional Peace Operations

October 01, 2010

Over the last decade, UN peacekeeping operations have more frequently been deployed into complex environments where there is little but an unstable peace to keep and where former belligerents and other armed groups regularly visit violence upon civilians. These operations have been mandated to, and their credibility and legitimacy hinges on their ability to, protect civilians under imminent threat of violence. Despite the international community's reliance on peace operations to prevent and respond to violence against civilians, the operations often lack the guidance, training, capacity, strategy and/or willingness to provide effective protection to civilians.

Written as the background paper for the Third International Challenges of Peace Operations Forum, this paper reviews reform efforts within and beyond the United Nations system to enable peace operations to better protect civilians, and offers observations and recommendations aimed at making POC in UN peacekeeping more effective. The paper addresses issues at the strategic level, looking at UN, humanitarian and regional perspectives. The paper then moves to address issues at the operational level of UN peacekeeping operations, and in particular the roles and requirements of the military and police components. Finally, the paper looks at how protection interfaces with conflict prevention, human rights, and the rule of law.

During the forum, Dr. Durch also spoke on Cross-Cutting Issues in Protection of Civilians for UN Peace Operations. The text of his presentation is available here.