Protecting civilians: the gap between norms and practice

Research reports and studies
April 2014

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 protection of civilians (PoC) in armed conflicts since the 1990s, including international conventions highlighting PoC, the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and UN peacekeeping missions with PoC mandates. Why have these developments not always translated into improved protection for civilians in armed conflicts?

This policy brief examines the gap between the reality for civilians on the ground and PoC norms and policies and suggests areas for further work to help translate rhetoric into reality.

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