Protection actors rightly highlight the considerable advancements in norms and policies focusing on the protection of civilians during crisis. However, these advances have not fully translated into effective action on the ground, with devastating consequences for civilians.
This is partly due to a lack of compliance with existing norms. There is no common understanding amongst international actors (humanitarian, human rights, and peacekeeping) about the concept of protection, and this extends to how these different players operationalise protection.
Many humanitarian actors also lack a detailed understanding of what ‘protection’ means for affected communities and what strategies they employ to protect themselves. In some contexts, local communities are not only the first, but also the only line of defence against protection threats.
Protection needs cannot be addressed exclusively by local actors nor can they be met by an exclusively international response.
This book chapter, published in Protection of Civilians (Willmot et al., 2016) explores the necessity to effectively improve the protection of civilians through a stronger collaboration between local and international actors, and a move beyond the tried and tested.
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