Protection of civilians – interrogating the protection gap

March 2013 to March 2015

Why has it been so difficult to improve protection for civilians caught up in today’s conflicts – Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, to name a few? Despite significant expansions within international law and at a policy and normative level on protection of civilians, there is an extensive gap between the legal and policy developments and actual improvements in protection of civilians during conflicts.

With case study research on Syria and the Central African Republic, this project will focus on three core components:

1. The protection gap: Analysing normative level advancements on protection of civilians, with critical examination of the gap between such advancements and improvements in protection outcomes for civilians in conflict. This component will seek to identify and understand the factors that have created this dynamic as well as the political, operational and human consequences.

2. Protection in context: Understanding local perceptions of and strategies for protection of civilians in conflict. This component will examine the diverse protection threats faced by various groups (i.e. women, children, ethnic minorities, fighting age males, the elderly) across different contexts. It will also focus on local understandings and expectations of protection and how these are shaped, as well as the factors that influence and constrain protection strategies.

3. Effective response and innovation: Identifying successful strategies, interventions and programming at various levels to improve protection outcomes. This will examine not only what can be done to narrow the protection gap but also what approaches, new technologies or methodologies are being successfully employed at local level.

Outputs

Syria crisis: how aid is changing

Public event | 17 March 2015 15:00 - 16:30 GMT+00
Join us for a launch of leading new research on how diaspora and local aid organisations are changing aid responses in Syria, and how different aid organisations can collaborate to best serve those continuing to live under fire in Syria’s conflict zones....
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International and local/diaspora actors in the Syria response

Working and discussion papers | March 2015 | Eva Svoboda and Sara Pantuliano
Four years into Syria's bloody conflict, hundreds of local and diaspora groups are successfully negotiating access and delivering aid to civilians in areas that international agencies are struggling to reach.
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Picking up the pieces? The 'protection gap' in CAR

Briefing papers | March 2015 | Veronique Barbelet
This HPG policy brief examines the conflict in the Central African Republic and asks why the international community failed to act to address the protection crisis in the country.
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Protecting civilians: the gap between norms and practice

Research reports and studies | April 2014 | Ashley Jackson
Attacks on civilians have become an all too commonplace occurrence in conflicts, illustrated vividly in crises in Syria and the Central African Republic. Yet at the same time there has been a range of developments in laws and policies focused on improving the...
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