Peacekeepers As Soldiers And Humanitarians: The Impact Of Contradictory Roles And Responsibilities On The Protection Mandate Of Peacekeepers

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Government and International Affairs


The project conducts research on the currently two largest African peace operation, the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Both missions have complex mandates and combine military (combat), political (stabilisation/statebuilding) and humanitarian goals. The protection of civilians became a cornerstone of both missions.
Military peacekeepers are often required to straddle combat and pacific responsibilities, combining military, diplomatic and humanitarian roles. They fight violent actors who are often not easily distinguishable from civilians, patrol roads and convoy humanitarian deliveries, while they are simultaneously requested to develop relations with communities affected by violence, to mediate conflicts and often also to provide humanitarian goods.
The project explores how UN and AU peacekeepers in the DRC and in Somalia fulfil their protection mandate from the perspective of protection providers and protection recipients: military peacekeepers (provider), civilians (recipients) and humanitarian worker (recipients and ideally partners of peacekeepers). It will provide an in-depth and differentiated account on how military peacekeepers navigate their increasingly complex roles, swap between combat and pacific responsibilities and how their protection efforts are experienced at the recipients' end. This knowledge is crucial in improving protection efforts.
The findings of the research will be shared in round tables with all three actor groups. The round tables aim at receiving feed-back on the research. More importantly, they also aim at providing a platform for communication and at stimulating dialogue between military peacekeepers, civil humanitarian actors and civilians. Round tables will be organised by local civil society organisations who partner in the research project, and it is expected that they will uphold communication links even after the research ended.
The findings, i.e. the experiences of the providers and recipients of protection, will feed into a peacekeeping training module. The module will be developed in cooperation with the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) in Nairobi. The training will be piloted during a workshop with AU and UN trainers and representatives of military headquarters and military trainers of troop contributing countries. The evaluation of the participants will help to fine-tune the training and to finalize a training handbook that will be made publically available and shared with peacekeeping training centres and military headquarters of troop contributing countries.

Planned Impact

The main impact of the research project is identified within four areas: First, the parallel comparison of experiences of three actor groups - peacekeepers, humanitarians, and civilians - will highlight the extent to which the experiences and perceptions of protection providers (military and non-military) match civilians' realities and civilians' (spatial) experiences of safety. Based on these findings, protection practices and outcomes will be improved by enhancing protection provider's understanding of needs of their activities' recipients. This will be done by discussing the projects' findings in the context of two roundtables bringing together A) all three actor groups and enhance their communication with each other, and B) military headquarters of troop contributing countries and peacekeeping practitioners. In addition, a training component will be developed to improve the training on civilian protection based on the research's findings.

Second, the project will increase the research capacity of the local partner organisations: the South West Livestock Professional Association (Sowelpa) in Somalia and Cercle National de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse (CNRJ) in the DRC. Members of both organisations will receive training in research design, research practice, and research ethics and gain in-depth research experience. They will learn how to organise and conduct qualitative research (sampling, conducting interviews and mapping-voice) and how to analyse different types of information (interviews, maps and voices captured during the mapping exercise). Such research capacity is highly valued in both countries as international partners often rely on local organisations to conduct research.

Third, a training component will be developed based on the research findings. This will be done cooperatively with the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) in Kenya and piloted in their facilities. A training handbook, Training of Trainers' handbook, and an evaluation tool will jointly be designed. These training publications will be disemminated among all peacekeeping training partners as well as the wider peacekeeping training community and will be made publicly available on the DGSi website.

Fourth, another research output will be a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) module on Peacekeeping and Protection which will be directed to master-level students and practitioners (army and civilian) at the Durham Global Security Institute and at Kenyatta University. This will contribute to the institutionalisation of training pertaining to the 'military-humanitarian realm'.


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Description Writing Workshop: Amplifying African Voices in Peacekeeping and State-building Research
Amount £19,654 (GBP)
Funding ID WW202 1100206 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 03/2022