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Monitoring protection: asking the impossible?

Time (GMT +01) 14:00 16:00


Norah Niland – Research Associate CCDP, Graduate Institute Geneva and Independent Consultant

Rachel Hastie – Protection Adviser, Oxfam

Guilhem Ravier – Head of Unit, Protection of the Civilian Population, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Francesca Bonino – Research Officer -Evaluation, Learning and Accountability, Active Learning network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP)

Jenny McAvoy – Director of Protection, InterAction (via telephone)


Wendy Fenton – Coordinator, Humanitarian Practice Network


In today's armed conflicts, civilians bear the brunt of hostilities. Often caught up in the midst of active fighting, civilians have increasingly also become the direct targets of violence. Humanitarian agencies strive to improve the protection afforded to civilians, but how can they better monitor and evaluate protection programming to ensure that they best serve those in need? This event, co-hosted by the Humanitarian Policy Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross aims to understand the challenges of monitoring protecting work, and promote discussion on ways forward.

It is well recognised that the primary responsibility for protecting civilian populations from violence rests with national state authorities, international state and non-state authorities that control territory. Belligerents in any conflict have the obligation to respect International Humanitarian Law and the distinction between civilians and combatants. Yet despite this, modern conflicts have seen a dramatic escalation in terms of civilian fatalities.

In such environments humanitarian agencies strive to improve the protection afforded to civilians. With different mandates, approaches, access levels and acceptance, results have differed widely in different contexts and through the work of different agencies. Certainly, in reflecting on past crises, some, such as Sri Lanka, have been deemed to be failures in terms of impact of protection work while others, including Afghanistan, have been much more encouraging.

In response to the need to better evaluate and monitor protection work, not least so that humanitarians can learn from past mistakes and achievements, the newly revised ICRC Professional Standards for Protection Work has outlined guidance on M&E of protection programming. This debate seeks to engage an audience of professionals in a dialogue around both failed and successful attempts over the past decade, and what lessons must be drawn from them.