Armed Groups, Civilian Protection and United Nations Peacekeeping

Wednesday 7th to Friday 9th November 2018

Venue: Dublin City University, Glasnevin Campus (Business School), Dublin 9 (see map)

The latest version of the programme is available here: Programme (Ver 3.0, last updated 6th November).

Papers and resources will be available at (password protected)


Dr Sukanya Podder, King’s College London [email protected]

Dr Walt Kilroy, IICRR, Dublin City University [email protected]

While the concern with civilians in armed conflict is not new, and the international community is well aware of the key challenges that this presents, recent events on the ground are forcing us to revisit our analysis. These developments include the ‘robust’ turn in peacekeeping in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), difficult relations with the host government in South Sudan, and the way enormous civilian protection ‘sites’ (camps) have become part of the response. With that urgency in mind, this proposed Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) has the following aims:

(1) To trace the evolution of civilian protection in the mandates and practices of peace support operations;

(2) To isolate obstacles and barriers to effectively protecting civilians from violent attacks by armed groups, including human trafficking, slavery, forced displacement, child recruitment and forced marriages;

(3) To explore the network of relationships with other actors which have a significant bearing on how the mandate is operationalised (such as civil-military cooperation and relations with armed forces and government of a host state). These actors include the state and its armed forces; local peacebuilding organisations; and early warning networks of civil society organisations.

(4) To draw conclusions from peacekeepers’ experience over the last five years of protecting civilians in difficult circumstances, and to see in what ways earlier analyses have to be reconsidered.

The ARW will explore the following research question:

What have we learnt from implementing protection of civilian mandates within United Nations peacekeeping operations in the last five years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan?

Further questions that will be explored through the workshop panels include:

  • What types of threats (classified by sources and lethality) do civilians face in current conflicts?
  • Are these different across the cases considered?
  • What types of protection measures are necessary for different types of threats?
  • What are the main issues for peace support operations in relation to civilian protection?
  • How can difficult relations with host states be managed?