Enhancing Civilian Protection in Peace Operations: Insights from Africa
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC WASHINGTON
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The protection of civilians is a critical issue in African security. Nearly 600,000 civilians in 27 African countries have been massacred in the past two decades. Tens of millions more have been killed in battles, displaced, or perished from indirect causes of such attacks and the continents armed conflicts. Not only are civilians the main victims of Africas wars, but also an increasing number of United NationsUN Security Council resolutions have called upon peacekeepers to protect them. For many, civilian protection is the very essence of peacekeeping. This is a driving rationale behind the unanimously endorsed and UN-mandated responsibility to protect principlethe idea that governments have a responsibility to prevent and curtail genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Civilian protection is also a crucial part of forging durable political settlements because any peace agreement that tolerates continued violence against civilians will not provide a solid foundation on which to build legitimate governance structures. But protecting civilians in Africas war zones raises huge challenges. Among the most important is the need to devise effective systems of information gathering and analysis that detect patterns of atrocities and to develop strategies and operational approaches that would enable militaries to effectively protect civilians from physical violence. Although difficult, civilian protection can be enhanced if peace operation policies are based on a multilayered conception of protection, a sound analysis of the conflict dynamics in question, a clear view of the strategy guiding protection activities, and peacekeepers supplied with sufficient resources to undertake the crucial operational and tactical tasks. The most strategic long-term challenge is determining how to effectively deter attacks on civilians...