This chapter offers a new framing of how individuals and groups learn and practice unarmed civilian protection (UCP), in relation to feminism, gender, cultural identity and other subjectivities, exploring the ambiguous relationship of UCP to the wider field of humanitarian work and the ‘development–security nexus’ within the context of contemporary gendered and racialized capitalism. The article argues that care work not only supports and enables knowledge creation and sharing, but is itself a form of social reproduction that sustains and ‘makes’ UCP and thus the differential distribution of the burden of care and knowledge creation in UCP teams demands further attention. Furthermore; greater attention to the intersectionality of identities within the UCP community is essential to future scholarship and action around this practice; especially the importance of the eldership of older, more experienced men and women from the Global South, and the embodied knowledge that these elders recognize, carry and share with peers.
Given ‘common-sense’ wisdom that violence is required to stop violence, any serious investigation into unarmed civilian protection (UCP) must first critically examine widespread beliefs about the protective value of violence and then identify the mechanisms by which nonviolence, in the form of UCP, is capable of preventing violence and protecting civilians. This chapter first reveals how collective armed security-seeking practices are unreliable and often generate insecurity for those they are meant to protect. Second, I argue that UCP is able to prevent and protect people from violence via four primary mechanisms, most succinctly expressed as UCP as deterrent, mirror, bridge, and support. Ultimately, although neither violent nor nonviolent responses can guarantee protection from violence, the unarmed, nonviolent status of UCP actors facilitates, rather than hinders, these protective mechanisms – while armed approaches to protection can actually weaken them.
The introduction provides a brief overview of the history and places of UCP/accompaniment, touching on issues of basic principles and practices, challenges to protecting civilians including a discussion of the comparative strengths of UCP vs militarized peacekeeping and civilian protection, connections to other fields such as critical security and human security studies, and critiques of the practice. It concludes with some thoughts about new directions in potential research/theorizing questions.
This chapter addresses the underexplored physical protection of ex-combatants in the process of reintegration into civilian society. The authors study the example of Colombia where, despite official safety guarantees, more than 300 former FARC guerrillas have been assassinated since the signing of a peace agreement in late 2016. The lack of ex-guerrillas’ protection has heightened the risk of rearmament for self-protection and accentuated societal stigmatization. The authors explore the approaches and dilemmas of ex-combatants’ protection provided by actors ranging from state and regional agencies, to international and national protective accompaniment organizations, and to local communities. On this basis, they develop three arguments regarding the limits of current thinking and practices of UCP/A: the narrow conception of actor categories; siloed conceptualizations of protection; and the wider negative effects of the lack of protective accompaniment for former perpetrators on transformations from war to positive peace. They argue that protectively accompanying peace signatories, especially when done in collaboration with existing community initiatives, would enable safer space for the implementation of other parts of the peace agreement.
Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) hinges on relationships: building them, sustaining them, and using them to generate protective outcomes with and for at-risk civilian populations. Despite a common focus on the power of relationships among UCP organizations and methodologies, different UCP actors take very different approaches to these relationships, particularly who they seek to build them with. For some UCP actors, building connections with all parties to a conflict is a central goal. Others are much more selective and deliberately eschew close relationship with parties, such as the police or armed groups.
This chapter outlines these differentiated strategic approaches and explores why different UCP actors gravitate toward these different relational strategies. These approaches are explained using three key factors: variances in how the principle of nonpartisanship is understood, the positionality of the organization vis-à-vis the civilian community they work in, and the broader political context in which a UCP actor operates. Understanding how and why these strategic relational choices are made provides new and important insights into the emergent UCP sector and its relevance to different conflict contexts.
Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is a deeply contextual practice, and one that is shaped by the spaces in which it is practised. While the ‘spatial turn’ in peace and conflict studies is a welcome addition to the literature, however, it is the beginning of a deeper understanding of the constructive power of UCP rather than its conclusion. This chapter firstly outlines the contribution of spatial analysis to UCP literature through a review of works on spatial approaches to civilian protection, before exploring the possibility of contextualizing nonviolent space within time through the case study of South Sudan. Finally, it locates this temporal space within bodies, by unpacking the methods of UCP and the ways in which the practice instrumentalizes nonviolent bodies in the protection of civilians.
This chapter focuses on transforming armed policing by drawing on the work of unarmed civilian protection (UCP). Presently, there is a group of countries with mostly unarmed police. In the US, a significant movement driven by Black Lives Matter is challenging the traditional policing model. The author will first describe these signs of the times regarding policing. Second, the author will assess pivotal insights and practices that UCP might offer to armed policing models. There may also be aspects that UCP can learn from armed policing models. This assessment will include drawing on an emerging just peace ethical framework. Third, the author will identify some potential next steps in the community and policy spheres with attention to the US context. Oriented by a sense of urgency, such steps will be strategically described as a part of a phased approach to better ensure sustainability of a deep systemic transformation.
Based on the foundational goals of unarmed civilian protection (UCP), this chapter introduces a framework that divides UCP into three broad categories: traditional peacekeeping, creating space for nonviolent activism, and protection of communities from endemic external and internal violence. This framework forms the basis for the exploration of how UCP core values (such as nonviolence) influence varying manifestations of UCP and how key principles (such as nonpartisanship) need to be approached differently according to the category of UCP implemented. The framework also explores the important dimension of communities creating their own protection versus inviting outsiders (that is, internationals) to provide protection. The framework also compares UCP approaches to those conventional forms of security (from military peacekeeping and law enforcement agencies to armed insurgent groups to street gangs), which UCP attests to replace, in order to emphasize the relevance and potential for future expansion of UCP.
Based on the learnings of the Nonviolent Peaceforce’s ‘Good Practices in UCP’ process and existing literature on UCP, this chapter reflects on the role of UCP in nonviolent conflict transformation. Johan Galtung has distinguished three ‘grand strategies’ – peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding. UCP has originally been sorted into the category of peacekeeping but it has turned out that, to be effective, UCP needs to incorporate elements of the other two strategies. And, at the same time, UCP is also being used as a tool to strengthen one side in a conflict by opening space for activists seeking to protect human rights, overcome injustice or fighting against occupations or for self-determination, which are also important factors in conflict transformation. The chapter proposes an understanding of UCP that puts it into the overall framework of conflict transformation, which allows to still distinguish it from other approaches.