International Order & Conflict
Report

Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit: Developing Guidance to Prevent and Respond to Widespread or Systematic Attacks Against Civilians

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For a number of years, Stimson research has focused on identifying the obstacles that multilateral organizations and individual states face in preventing and responding to widespread and systematic violence against civilians. The research found that the absence of guidance, planning, and training on the protection of civilians created a critical gap that hindered effective international responses. As a result, the Civilians in Conflict project launched the “Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit” initiative in 2009 to catalyze and influence the development of doctrine and training (specific to the protection of civilians) within multilateral institutions (UN, AU, NATO) and national militaries.

In September 2009, the Stimson Center engaged experts and doctrine writers alongside military and civilian leaders with experience in protection crises at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham. The workshop included a two-day simulation exercise involving escalating violence against civilians in a fictional country, which challenged workshop participants to propose and evaluate courses of action to protect civilians. The workshop was designed to capture insights that could be distilled into guidance for future missions mandated to protect. The project resulted in three products including “Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit: Developing Guidance to Prevent and Respond to Widespread or Systematic Attacks Against Civilians” by Alison Giffen (Spring 2010). The document explores the lack of protection-related doctrine and training and captures the key challenges and gray areas that leaders face in a protection crisis that should be addressed in guidance and training.

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