Systematic violence and mass atrocities against civilians increasingly occur in armed conflicts. Millions of individuals have lost their lives, while tens of millions more have been displaced from their homes. In war-torn societies, civilians – in particular women and children – have suffered from gross violations of human rights and political, psychological and economic repression that have become part of deliberate conflict strategies. In 1999, the UN Peacekeeping Operation in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) was mandated “to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.” Today, the majority of the nearly 100,000 uniformed UN peacekeepers deployed worldwide operate under such a mandate.
Over the past decades, the world has witnessed armed conflicts marked by systematic violence and mass atrocities against civilians. In the framework of the United Nations, notable efforts have been put in place to improve the effectiveness of protection of civilians. The concept of protection of civilians first appeared in the UN Secretary-General’s Report on the Situation of Africa of 13 April 1998 (S/1998/318), in which Kofi Annan identified the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflicts as a "humanitarian imperative". As part of this evolution, the protection of civilians has been progressively incorporated to the mandate of peace operations.
The goal of the course is to improve the overall coherence and effectiveness of protection activities on the ground.
The course seeks to advance a better understanding of the theoretical and practical framework of the protection of civilians in peace operations.
At the end of the course, participants will be able to:
- Define the concept of protection in the context of UN peace operations – as distinct from other non-peacekeeping protection functions and actors;
- Describe UN institutional standards and expectations with regards to protection planning and execution of protection activities;
- Define the different roles and responsibilities of protection actors within a UN peace operation;
- Discuss best practices and lessons learned;
- Discuss challenges and dilemmas related to the prevention of sexual violence.
The course is structured in five modules, defined as follows:
- Module 1: Overview of the protection of civilians
- Module 2: International legal dimension of the protection of civilians
- Module 3: Protection of civilians in the context of UN peacekeeping operations
- Module 4: Ensuring the protection of civilians
- Module 5: Prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence
The course is delivered face-to-face within the premises of The United Service Institution of India (New Delhi). It utilizes the principles of adult education through its interactivity and learner-centred approach. Specifically, the course will use:
- Case studies
- Role play
- Small group discussions
- Interactive presentations
The course is designed for civilians, military and police personnel eager to serve in peace operations. The course builds on their existing skills and expertise by showing them how these can be applied in the complex context of peace operations and by providing them with the executive knowledge and additional personal skills they would require. Participants are expected to have no prior, or limited, experience in peace operations and to come from a vast and diverse demographic and professional range. The course is neither specialized for a particular gender or age group, nor to specific background experience and education. Nevertheless, it is highly advisable that participants have an overall understanding of the structure, components and functioning of a peace operation.