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2020 – PAX Protection of Civilians Conference

On December 1-3, 2020, we brought together our network of PoC partners on three key themes: People and Protection, National Contributions to PoC, and the Reverberating Effects of Civilian Harm.

The conference provided participants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives the opportunity to share knowledge, lessons learned, and ideas for how to advance the field. International interaction was facilitated through live virtual panels, surveys, Q&A sessions, and pre-recorded messages from the field. We initiated this event as part of our partnership with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


2020 – PAX Protection of Civilians Conference

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Reports & publications
Library day 1
Library day 2
Library day 3
You can watch all the recordings via the PAX PoC Conference 2020 YouTube Playlist:

Reading day 1 | National Contributions to PoC

Germany's long military mission in Afghanistan
Nineteen years after the 9/11 attacks, German troops are still in Afghanistan – the bloodiest mission in Germany's postwar history. Amid talk of US withdrawal, Deutsche Welle looks at the Bundeswehr’s accomplishments and failures in Afghanistan.

Oxford Research Group - Fusion Doctrine in Five Steps: Lessons Learned from Remote Warfare in Africa
This report discusses how the roll out of the UK’s new Fusion Doctrine can better address the problems facing Africa. The report highlights that while Fusion Doctrine may be well-suited to addressing crises, it struggles to create “routine fusion” which brings key stakeholders together to build sustainable peace and security.

United Kingdom Approach to Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
This policy brief provides an update to March 2020 on the UK approach to the Protection of Civilians (PoC) in armed conflict situations. It builds on the UK’s PoC strategy paper published in 2010, and has been drafted following consultation with non-governmental organisations, civil society, academics and others.

Oxford Research Group - Forging a New Path: Prioritising the Protection of Civilians in the UK's Response to Conflict
This report by Liam Walpole and Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen examines the challenges that remote warfare poses to civilians in modern conflict and the United Kingdom’s current safeguarding mechanisms.

WarPod Episode #20 | Incorporating the Protection of Civilians into UK Policy
In this podcast, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen is joined by Ewan Lawson, an ORG Fellow, and Save the Children's Amanda Brydon to discuss the importance of incorporating a strong focus on the protection of civilians into UK policy and how this may factor in the forthcoming Integrated Review.

Advisory Council on International Affairs - The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts: Well-trodden Paths and New Ways Forward
In this advisory report, the Advisory Council on International Affairs argues that the existing instruments for the protection of the civilian population in armed conflicts are insufficiently effective and that new modalities should be sought.

Stimson Center - Operationalizing Protection of Civilians in NATO Operations
This paper, written by Marla Keenan and Alexander W. Beadle, identified elements of what NATO needed to consider for a policy on the Protection of Civilians to be comprehensive and successful. They addressed conceptual and practical recommendations, including that NATO should consider protection from their actions as well as from the activities of other armed groups.

Oxford Research Group - No Such Thing as a Quick Fix: The Aspiration-Capabilities Gap in British Remote Warfare
The current gap between aspirations and activities heightens the risk that contemporary British military activity is not sufficiently integrated into an overarching political strategy. This report by Emily Knowles and Abigail Watson is a first attempt to evaluate the gaps between contemporary strategies and activities in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Contributing to Human Security through training: a mission impossible?
This conference, organised by PAX's PoC team, focused on both training Troop/Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) in the case of pre-deployment for UN missions and bilateral training programs Security Force Assistance (SFA) such as Flintlock. This report reflects on the conference and aims to summarise its proceedings.

Virtual Panel - Training for the Protection of Civilians
On June 1, 2020, the Governments of Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Rwanda, and Uruguay, in partnership with PAX, convened a virtual panel of training experts and policy-makers to reflect on the challenges and best practices of contributions to UN peacekeeping training aimed at improving the capacities of UN peacekeeping operations to fulfill their mandates to protect civilians. This virtual event took place on the sidelines of the May 27, 2020, UNSC Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians.
Reading day 2 | People and Protection

Al Jazeera – South Sudan counts human cost of deadly cattle raids
For many in South Sudan, cattle are regarded as a symbol of wealth. But they are often stolen by rival communities in violent and sometimes deadly raids. Local organisations say more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in cattle raids since South Sudan gained its independence in 2011. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reports from Rumbek.


Saferworld – South Sudan cattle raids and small arms control
In this video, Saferworld sets out the problem of small arms proliferation in South Sudan and how we are working with the government and local partners to encourage dynamic and strategic solutions to prevent violent cattle raiding.


CIVIC – Protection Through Dialogue: How UNMISS is Linking Local Engagement with a National Peace Process in South Sudan
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) carried out interviews in Juba and Yei between December 2019 and February 2020 to assess the implementation of UNMISS’s new program of work. This Issue Brief summarizes CIVIC’s research findings and highlights good peacekeeping practices.


Evaluation of the contribution of the UNMISS Civil Affairs Division to the reduction of local conflict in South Sudan
This evaluation report determined the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of the activities of the Civil Affairs Division (CAD) of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and their plausible contribution to local conflict reduction in the country. Amongst the missions’ largest civilian component, CAD led the missions’ efforts to reduce conflict at the local level.

Stimson Center – Perceptions of Security Among Internally Displaced Persons in Juba, South Sudan
This brief synthesises voices of internally displaced persons seeking protection at United Nations peacekeeping operation bases in Juba, South Sudan.

Bayan Center – Iraqi Woman: Fears of a New Economic Crisis
Iraqis have always faced crises in different periods like what happened after the United Nations Security Council issued economic sanctions against Iraq in 1990, which lasted for years. They have adapted to a way of life to interact smoothly with the crisis. The situation is different now.

SIPRI – Tensions on Iraqi soil likely to overshadow anti-government protest demands
Dr O’Driscoll commentates on the significance of the continuing Iraqi protests, and asks if attention has been drawn away from the underlying issues driving these protests by the increased tensions between the US and Iran.

Ninewa Plains and Western Ninewa: Barriers to Return And Community Resilience
This report is a meta-analysis of the vast literature on Ninewa IDPs and the barriers to their return. It covers important analytical and contextual gaps with firsthand research to inform and enhance stakeholder policies.

CIVIC – ‘Let Us Be Part of It’ Community Engagement by the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan
This CIVIC report provides a look at how military, police, and civilian components of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan (UNMISS) are engaging communities to understand and address civilian protection concerns. The report highlights the importance of UNMISS personnel conducting strategic and coordinated engagement activities and ensuring that information collected from civilians is used to inform operational decisions.

ASPR – “Don’t Take This Away From Us Again” Citizen Perceptions of Peace in South Sudan
This policy brief by the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) discusses the preliminary results from the first stage of research in their research project “Perceptions of Peace in South Sudan”. This research project seeks to investigate, document, and draw from policy lessons from citizen perceptions of the peace process in South Sudan.


CIVIC – “We Just Want Someone to Protect Us” Civilian Protection Challenges in Kirkuk
This policy brief analyzes the protection threats affecting civilians in Kirkuk due to the existence of ISIS cells still active in the governorate. It also assesses the response of security forces to these threats, the efforts by the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the ISF to improve security in the governorate and ensure the safety of its inhabitants, and the trust deficit between civilians and security actors.

“What If He Were Innocent?:” Insights into CIVIC’s Engagement with the Nineveh Police
This short blog provides practical insights into a CIVIC protection of civilians workshop for the Nineveh police. It illustrates how this workshop affected the particular way police officers conducted security checks.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey Iraq – Dashboard
This dashboard shows the results of PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey (HSS) in Iraq.

PAX PoC teams’s Human Security Survey Iraq – Methodology
This document details the methodology developed by PAX’s PoC team for conducting representative surveys on civilian security perceptions and experiences in Iraq.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey Iraq – Publications
All publications related to PAX PoC’s HSS Iraq.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey South Sudan – Dashboard
This dashboard shows the results of PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey (HSS) in South Sudan.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey South Sudan – Methodology
This document details the methodology developed by PAX’s PoC team for conducting representative surveys on civilian security perceptions and experiences in South Sudan.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey South Sudan – Publications
All publications related to PAX PoC’s HSS South Sudan.

PAX PoC team’s Human Security Survey – Stories
Stories of the PAX PoC’s HSS.

The opportunity for local peacebuilding interventions: the case of Kirkuk
Dr O’Driscoll’s essay highlights core areas where there is an opportunity for local peacebuilding interventions that will affect a real change in the everyday lives of Kirkukis.

IOM Iraq – Perceptions of Police, Security and Governance in Iraq
This report by IOM Iraq and Yale Law School’s Center for Global Legal Challenges compares survey findings evaluating civilians’ attitudes and behaviors towards providers of security and justice; their perceptions of the legitimacy of the Iraqi government; police officers’ attitudes and behaviors toward civilians; and the prevalence of crime and violence.

National Democratic Institute – Focus Group Report: Iraqi Citizens Continue to Demand More Responsive Governance
This report details a qualitative public opinion research conducted by the NDI with funding from the Government of Canada. Results show that the most pressing need among Iraqi citizens in provinces formerly occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is finding job opportunities and improving their economic situation. This is seen as a precondition for satisfying other necessities which the government is failing to provide, mainly water and electricity.
Library day 3 | Civilian Harm and Reverberating Effects

What Does MINUSMA’s Revised Mandate Mean for the Protection of Civilians in Mali? Part 2: A More Detailed Approach to Mitigating Civilian Harm
In this blog Seán Smith elaborates on the refinements of PoC mandates in Mali to a every changing context. Also, Smith details how this refinement affords more prominence to reducing civilian harm within the tasks of MINUSMA.

Storytelling website – “I saw my city die”: A special report from the International Committee of the Red Cross
This webpage tells the story of civilians caught in the frontlines of urban conflict around the world, showing us how war has increasingly moved into urban areas, and how our urban environments make us vulnerable to civilian harm. There is also a report about this topic.

Open Society Foundations – The Strategic Costs of Civilian Harm: Applying Lessons From Afghanistan to Current and Future Conflicts
The report discusses civilian harm from ISAF action in Afghanistan from a military-strategic point of view: It details how preventable civilian harm and untransparent transporting on its occurrence led to a perceived loss of legitimacy of ISAF among the Afghan population. It moreover shows how tracking and public acknowledgment of civilian harm can improve a security actor’s reputation, as well as operational effectiveness.

Civil Society Guidance for a Model Policy
The U.S. military is engaged in a cooperative process with a range of non-governmental organisations to improve its civilian harm mitigation and transparency policy. The report presents the NGOs’ overarching recommendations for improvement.

PAX PoC – Civilian harm tracking, analysis and response
Paper that explains the concepts of civilian harm tracking, analysis and response, and which outlines PAX’ position with regard to implementation thereof in practice. It proposes a new and more comprehensive definition of ‘civilian harm’, and explains the benefits of tracking, analysis and response from military-strategic, political, and humanitarian points of view.

Airwars & PAX – Seeing Through the Rubble: the civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS
This report demonstrates the dire and long lasting impact on civilians of the recent international coalition’s campaign in Mosul, Raqqa, and Hawijah and calls for stronger international commitment against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Airwars – Six years after the war against ISIS began, where now for Iraqis?
News bulletin by Airwars, concerned with the current challenges Iraqis who lived in former IS areas face.

Operationalizing Civilian Protection in Mali: The Case for a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell
This practice note details an emerging best practice of civilian harm mitigation in armed conflict: namely, the creation of civilian casualty tracking, analysis, and response processes by a warring party or peace operation force. The article argues that in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon Somalia, these processes to better understand civilian harm and address consequences have positively shaped mission tactics, training, and overall operations.

Interactive Website – War in Raqqa: Rhetoric vs. Reality
This website compares the Coalition against ISIS’ civilian casualty figures and statements to its own research. It offers personal testimonies from victims of Coalition airstrikes, and it uses a range of different sources and images (satellite imagery, interactive maps) to map the scope of the violence that took place in Raqqa, Iraq.

Visual notes

Latest publications about this event

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PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Presentation ‘Understanding reverberating effects’
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Modelling Reverberating Effects and the Frontlines Lab initiative
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Reverberating effects of the use of Explosive Weapons
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Visible & invisible effects of violence used in Mosul
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Opening Day 3 Civilian Harm and Reverberating Effects
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Interview with Bert Koenders and Roos Abelman
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Aftermovie
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Plenary Opening (Day 1)
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - South Sudan's Transition: Citizens' Perception of Peace
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Local Understandings of Human Security: Evidence from the Field
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Expert Panel ‘Community engagement during uncertainty’
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Voices from the Field
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - ‘What is Human Security?’
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Workshop Coherence in PoC Policy and Practice
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Lessons Learned PoC Bilateral & Special Forces Operations from UK
PAX PoC Conference 2020 - Lessons Learned on PoC Experiences from Germany
Reverberating Effects from Military Action
Operationalizing PoC under A4P Priorities: Assessing Challenges, Operational Changes, and Progress (Event Report)
Visual notes: PAX PoC Conference 2020

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