Protecting Civilians in Conflict
Protecting Civilians in Conflict
Either caught in the crossfire or deliberately targeted, each year millions of civilians suffer from physical violence or are denied access to essential services. Effective international operations to protect civilians in conflict-affected areas include a combination of political, civilian, and military resources. Planning and implementing a comprehensive response is a challenge, especially when the operation involves coordination among multiple countries and organizations. The Protecting Civilians in Conflict project works in conflict-affected areas, including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to develop practical solutions to protect and prevent violence against civilians.
The Protecting Civilians in Conflict project envisions a world in which the international community, nation states, and local communities come together to eliminate violence against civilians in conflict-affected societies. By engaging conflict-affected communities and protection actors on the ground in dialogue and research, the project identifies gaps in policy and implementation that expose civilians to harm. Through dialogue with policymakers and practitioners at the United Nations and in governments, the project develops practical solutions to address those gaps to expand and improve international efforts to protect civilians.
Protecting civilians in conflict is not only a moral or legal imperative: it is a necessary component of and pragmatic step toward sustainable peace. The Protecting Civilians in Conflict project reviews the effectiveness of different approaches and makes recommendations for improved coordinated responses in conflict-affected states. The project’s previous analysis focused on the gaps in protection in the context of U.N. peacekeeping operations and recommended a number of reforms that the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly Special Committee on Peacekeeping requested the U.N. Secretariat to implement.
The project’s more recent research reviews the U.N.’s progress in developing policies, guidance and training on the protection of civilians in the context of peacekeeping. It follows these policies down to the ground to monitor whether and how they are being implemented to improve security for civilians in conflict zones.
The Stimson Center also collaborates with a number of visiting fellows and nonresident experts. To see a full list of contributors to the program, please click here..
The project recently completed a three-year initiative, Engaging Community Voices in Protection Strategies. The initiative partnered with civil society organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan to conduct focus groups, surveys, desk research and interviews to identify strategies that safely and effectively incorporate the voices of vulnerable communities in external actors’ decision-making regarding the populations they seek to protect.
For a number of years, Protecting Civilians in Conflict research focused on the absence of guidance, planning and training on the protection of civilians. The project’s Addressing the Doctrinal Deficit initiative (2009-2012) helped to catalyze and influenced the development of doctrine and training within the UN, AU, and US government.
The project has also produced recommendations on UN Integration and Humanitarian Space and the need for skilled civilian capacity in multidimensional interventions that seek to protect civilians.