Incidents of systematic rapes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and continued mass dislocations of populations in Somalia and Sudan have again thrust the issue of civilian protection and the responsibility of international peace operations onto news headlines around the world. Such episodes simultaneously damage the very credibility of peace operations. As home to 40 peace operations in 14 countries since 2000, Africa is at the forefront of grappling with the civilian protection issue.
In this Africa Center research paper, Paul Williams assesses the role civilian protection plays in peace operations, lessons learned from past civilian protection efforts, progress that has been made and key obstacles that remain in effectively providing protection to civilians caught up in armed conflict. Drawing on this experience, the paper puts forth ten priorities for improving civilian protection in ongoing and future peace operations—in Africa and beyond.