Understanding Why and How Civilians Resort to Self-Protection in Armed Conflict


Jose, Betcy, and Peace A. Medie. 2015. “Understanding Why and How Civilians Resort to Self-Protection in Armed Conflict.” International Studies Review. Volume 17, Issue 4, pages 515–535.

Authors: Betcy Jose, Peace A. Medie


The absence and limitations of civilian protection efforts have contributed to civilians in conflict zones adopting a variety of strategies to protect themselves from physical violence. These self-protection efforts have sometimes saved individuals and communities from violence and engendered a level of security. Nonetheless, the civilian protection literature and community have largely underestimated the importance of these self-protection strategies. This article traces the growth of the civilian protection regime and interrogates the absence of civilian selfprotection therein. It reviews the emerging self-protection literature and offers a typology of civilian self-protection strategies. Additionally, this article sheds light on how self-protection strategies might undermine civilian protection, particularly when they contribute to civilian targeting during armed conflict. It also proposes ways in which this typology can be extended to foster theory building and can inform traditional civilian protection efforts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Security, Violence

Year: 2015

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