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Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts: From Norms to Practices

English title Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts: From Norms to Practices
Applicant Dönges Hannah
Number 159031
Funding scheme Doc.CH
Research institution
Institution of higher education Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies - IHEID
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.03.2015 - 31.03.2018
Approved amount 183'542.00
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Keywords (9)

armed conflict ; international organizations; protection; peacekeeping; political sociology; South Sudan ; humanitarianism ; United Nations; practice turn

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Cette these etudie la protection des civils dans les conflits armes (POC) en se focalisant sur les actions des organisations internationales (OI) presentes au Soudan du Sud. Ce der- nier abrite en effet l'une des plus importantes operations de maintien de la paix et d'aide humanitaire des Nations Unies, une mission fragilisee par une crise de protection des civils dans un pays ou se sont installees pour la premiere fois, des bases de maintien de la paix et de POC particulierement adaptees a l’etude des dynamiques de cette crise et de ses acteurs.
Lay summary

En effet, bien que les mandats de POC constituent desormais l’un des principaux objectifs de la communaute internationale, peu de recherches ont ete consacrees a l’analyse des logiques de protection des OI ayant recu un mandat POC. Ce travail s’appuie sur 132 entretiens effectues entre autres, dans les sites de protection des civils au Soudan du Sud, et avance l’argument que la POC est structuree autour de deux champs de lutte politique principaux. Premierement, la concurrence tangible entre les differentes OIs pour l’acces aux ressources et a l’autorite internationale, affaiblit leurs capacites. Deuxiemement, ces memes acteurs internationaux continuent se disputent sur le terrain ideologique et juridictionnel : qui saura determiner ce qui releve des « bonnes » et des « mauvaises » pratiques de protection des civils. Employant une perspective multi-acteurs et multi-niveaux, ce travail est divise en trois parties analytiques. Ce que nous appelons une «Macrocosme de violence et de protection» revisite l’histoire du « champs » de la POC, ce que nous definissons ensuite comme le «mesocosme» se penche sur les dynamiques de POC specifiques Sud-Soudan et les logiques organisationnelles de protection du Comite International de la Croix- Rouge, du Haut-Commissariat des Nations-Unies pour les refugies, la Mission des Nations-Unies au Sud-Soudan et du Bureau de la coordination des affaires humanitaires ; enfin, les «Microcosmes» - les quatre principaux sites POC au Sud-Soudan – vient completer la composition globale de la POC en demontrant qu’une action efficace sur le terrain depend de la capacite des OIs et de leur personnel a collaborer au-dela des logiques de protection proprement organisationnelles caracterisees par une competition politique et l’entre-soi individuel.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.04.2019

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
In her PhD thesis, “International Organizations in the Crosshairs: Protecting Civilians in South Sudan”, Hannah Dönges aims to understand the protection of civilians in the rather understudied setting of the armed conflicts in South Sudan and generate a policy-relevant framework that grasps the agency of international organizations.The newest UN member state is home to one of the biggest UN peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid interventions facing a man-made protection crisis and the first country where POC sites (UN peacekeeping bases, where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking protection from armed violence) provide uniquely suited microcosms for the study of protection across actors.
Lay summary

While POC mandates are now one of the main goals of the international community, little research addresses IOs’ protection logics aiming to fulfill this mandate. This work builds on 132 interviews conducted at headquarter and field level in South Sudan, and argues that POC is structured along two main arenas of political struggle: Firstly, IOs compete in an issue area field of protection for authority and resources, and secondly IO staff fight to determine ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protection efforts according to their respective professional fields (humanitarian, military, civilian UN and police). Based on a multi-actor and multi-level perspective, this work is divided in three analytical parts. First, in ‘macrocosms of violence and protection’ it describes the historical roots of the protection field up to the current contestation of using force to protect. The ‘mesocosm’ zooms in on the particular protection dynamics in South Sudan and examines the organizational logics of protection of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Missions in South Sudan and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. ‘Microcosms,’ finally, focuses on the four main POC sites in South Sudan and shows that protection outcomes on the ground are contingent on the ability to work across the different organizational protection logics. This makes an understanding across professional fields crucial to protection outcomes. Through this Cosmos framework, the thesis offers both a methodological and theoretical contribution to the IR literature and presents a fine-grained analysis of IO agency.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.04.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Defence as Security
Dönges Hannah, Hofmann Stephanie (2018), Defence as Security, in Gal breath David, Deni John (ed.), Routledge, Oxford, 29-39.
What Works (and Fails) in Protection
Dönges Hannah Kullenberg Janosch (2018), What Works (and Fails) in Protection, Oxford University Press, Oxford , 161.
Südsudan: Peacekeeping am Limit
DöngesHannah (2017), Südsudan: Peacekeeping am Limit, SWP, Berlin.
Attacks on Education in Conflict, Post-Conflict and Non-Conflict Settings
Carapic Jovana, Dönges Hannah (2016), Attacks on Education in Conflict, Post-Conflict and Non-Conflict Settings, in Kury Helmut, Redo Sławomir Shea Evelyn (ed.), Springer International Publishing, Zürich, 141-174.
Protection of Civilians needs to be understood as a collaborative strategy and not a campsite
Dönges Hannah (2016), Protection of Civilians needs to be understood as a collaborative strategy and not a campsite, Center for International Cooperation, New York University, New York.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Center on International Cooperation, New York University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Africa Office Kenya (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Columbia University in the City of New York United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Small Arms Survey Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
International Relations/Political Science Department at the Graduate Institute Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
The Conflict Research Society Annual Conference 2017 Talk given at a conference Peacekeeping in South Sudan: Protection of civilians sites as microcosms of violence and protection 18.09.2017 Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Dönges Hannah;
ISA Annual Convention 2017 Talk given at a conference UN Peacekeeping and the Perils of Civilian ProtecƟon in South Sudan 20.02.2017 Baltimore, United States of America Dönges Hannah;
SPSA Annual Conference 2017 Talk given at a conference UN Peacekeeping and the Perils of Civilian Protection in South Sudan 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Dönges Hannah;
CfP Protection Workshop 2016: Protection of individuals as a system-wide challenge for the United Nations Talk given at a conference Protection of civilians in South Sudan across international organizations 15.07.2016 Braunschweig, Germany Dönges Hannah;
ISA Annual Convention, Atlanta, 2016: Exploring Peace Talk given at a conference Peacekeeping and the protection of civilians in armed conflict: the case of South Sudan 16.03.2016 Atlanta, United States of America Dönges Hannah;
African Studies Association Annual Meeting 2015 Talk given at a conference Discourses on Boko Haram: a critical analysis 19.11.2015 San Diego, CA, United States of America Dönges Hannah;
9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations: Worlds of Violence Talk given at a conference Discourses on Boko Haram: a critical analysis 22.09.2015 Giardini, Naxos, Sicily, Italy Dönges Hannah;
ISA Annual Convention, Atlanta, 2016: Exploring Peace Talk given at a conference Attacks on Education in Conflict, Post-conflict and Non-Conflict Settings 16.03.2015 Atlanta, United States of America Dönges Hannah;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict: Mapping Practices on the Ground 07.04.2019 San Francisco, United States of America
Power and Politics in Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict - ISA 2018 Panel 07.04.2018 San Francisco , United States of America

Knowledge transfer events

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Understanding Protection of Civilians in South Sudan Graduate Institute News Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media „Hunger wird als Waffe eingesetzt“ International 2017
Media relations: print media, online media There are no Quick Fixes in South Sudan IPI Global Observatory International 2016

Abstract

This thesis studies Protection of Civilians in armed conflict (POC) by focusing on international organizations (IOs) in South Sudan. The newest UN member state is home to one of the biggest UN peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid interventions facing a man-made protection crisis and the first country where POC sites (UN peacekeeping bases, where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking protection from armed violence) provide uniquely suited microcosms for the study of protection across actors. While POC mandates are now one of the main goals of the international community, little research addresses IOs’ protection logics aiming to fulfill this mandate. This work builds on 132 interviews conducted at headquarter and field level in South Sudan, and argues that POC is structured along two main arenas of political struggle: Firstly, IOs compete in an issue area field of protection for authority and resources, and secondly IO staff fight to determine ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protection efforts according to their respective professional fields (humanitarian, military, civil- ian UN and police). Based on a multi-actor and multi-level perspective, this work is divided in three analytical parts. First, in ‘macrocosms of violence and protection’ it describes the historical roots of the protection field up to the current contestation of using force to protect. The ‘mesocosm’ zooms in on the particular protection dynamics in South Sudan and examines the organizational logics of pro- tection of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Missions in South Sudan and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. ‘Microcosms,’ finally, focuses on the four main POC sites in South Sudan and shows that protection outcomes on the ground are contingent on the ability to work across the different organizational pro- tection logics. This makes an understanding across professional fields crucial to protection outcomes. Through this Cosmos framework, the thesis offers both a methodological and theoretical contribution to the IR literature and presents a fine-grained analysis of IO agency.
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