n Conflict Trends - The protection of civilians in peace support operations : lessons from Côte d'Ivoire

Volume 2012, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


The protection of civilians has become the yardstick by which contemporary peace operations in Africa are measured by the international community. The protection of civilians and the ability of multi-dimensional peace support operations to fulfil such mandates is undeniably a critical issue in African security for several reasons. The human cost of Africa's wars is enormous. Civilians are the main victims in these conflicts, and although most succumb to disease and the effects of malnutrition, a significant number are targeted during actual conflict even though they are non-combatants. The protection of civilians refers to a broad range of 'structures and policies developed by the United Nations (UN), states and other humanitarian actors, and based on international humanitarian law (IHL), and human rights and refugee law, to protect vulnerable populations from the effects of armed conflict, ranging from the most immediate priorities of minimizing civilian casualties to more long-term priorities of promoting the rule of law, security, and law and order within a state.' This term (the protection of civilians) has become critical not only for the legitimacy and success of individual peacekeeping operations but also for the credibility of the entire UN, African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

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