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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 12 Civilian Protection

Sarah Sewall

Introduction

Our expectations of why and how global citizens should be protected from violence has evolved dramatically in recent decades, challenging existing conceptual, legal, and normative frameworks and pitting important international principles against one another. This chapter is concerned with the evolution and varied manifestations of the concept of protecting civilians primarily during armed conflict and from physical threats. It traces the character of civilian protection as a military responsibility, explaining how it has expanded to incorporate broader humanitarian imperatives. The essay discusses three different genres of civilian protection: avoiding civilian casualties in armed conflict, protecting civilians at the tactical level during military operations, and conducting military interventions for the primary purpose of protecting civilians. This chapter does not explore issues of humanitarian action (see Chapter 13: Humanitarian Assistance).

Since the end of the Cold War, and with hastening momentum, the idea of civilian protection has assumed entirely new dimensions. At the conceptual level, the international human rights movement has driven this change and the related evolution of cultural norms. At a practical level, the concept takes shape through the actions of national governments and international political bodies, particularly the United Nations. Civilian protection began as a highly limited concept that ...

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