The Protection of Civilians: An Evolving Paradigm?
Stability: International Journal of Security & Development
Whilst the protection of civilians (POC) in conflict has been a recurring feature of the humanitarian discourse the same has not been true in military doctrines, where the protection of civilians has long been cast in terms of arms bearers upholding their responsibilities under international humanitarian law (IHL). However, opportunities for and pressures on military actors to develop more specific capacities and approaches in this field have grown: partly as a response to the changing nature, location and scope of conflict, particularly the increasing proportion of internal conflicts fought by irregular armed groups in urban environments. It is also a response to the scale and complexity of protection challenges in the Balkans, Rwanda, Darfur and Libya - each of which has clearly demonstrated that threats to civilians are complex and dynamic and that no single international actor is capable of mitigating them without significant support from other institutions (O’Callaghan and Pantuliano, 2007). Despite the enormous growth in opportunities for interaction between militaries and humanitarians there is only a very limited literature on their interaction over protection issues and evaluations of the emerging doctrines. Consequently this article charts the growth in military policies towards POC in the UN, UK, NATO and a range of other states as well as drawing attention to the challenges that still remain in operationalising responses.