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Protection of civilians – interrogating the protection gap

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.


Veronique Barbelet, Ashley Jackson

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