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Protection of Civilians

The protection of civilians is at the heart of PAX's work. On the ground in regions of conflict, PAX works with local activists and civilian organisations to examine how civilians can best be protected against the destructive effect of war.

Since the genocide in Rwanda and the failed attempts to protect civilians in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the protection of civilians is high on the international agenda. But who ensures that safety? And how? What resources are needed in order to safeguard the safety of civilians? The answers to those questions are largely dependent on the local conditions in a conflict. PAX therefore chooses to work with local partners on protecting civilians from the bottom up.

PAX has developed a method which gives civilians in communities a voice about their safety: the Human Security Survey. Surveys conducted using smartphones enable local researchers to map their community`s security situation. Who or what is a source of security or insecurity? What sort of protection is required? And what do civilians think of the military missions that have come to protect them?

The research findings are used to strengthen civilians in their dialogue with government bodies, armed groups and international organisations with regard to their safety in negotiations and peace missions.

Advice and training
When countries are prepared to send military personnel to a conflict region in order to protect civilians, PAX's knowledge of the local context is of great value. What will the military encounter on the ground? What do the local civilians expect of them? For that reason PAX sometimes assists with training military personnel and advises military forces prior to and during missions.

Influencing policy
The lessons and experiences which PAX and its partners acquire with regard to protecting civilians in conflict regions are also used to inform policymakers and advise on the deployment of resources in conflict regions. Should the Netherlands participate in a mission in Libya? What sort of mission should the UN provide in Mali? And which resources should European countries acquire in order to be able to adequately protect civilians in the future?

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