Protection of Civilians Mandates and ‘Collateral Damage’ of UN Peacekeeping Missions: Histories of Refugees from Darfur

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This article contributes to refining our understanding of how a robust Protection of Civilians mandate in peacekeeping missions may have unintended and harmful consequences for key local actors involved. It focuses specifically on local mission staff employed to collect vital data on human rights abuses, taking the example of the hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID. It further explores how the UN system lacks a clear policy or automatically built-in mechanisms to prevent potential harm to those on whose local knowledge it relies. While predominately based on interview data with a small number of former UNAMID frontline human rights data-collectors from Darfur, the dynamics unveiled speak to more general issues when interrogating protection of civilians as the central pillar of UN peacekeeping missions, also beyond scenarios where the government of a host-state is hostile to the mission. The article concludes that the protection of local staff should feature prominently in any mission’s approach, including an active commitment to withdraw staff from their positions if their security is threatened or compromised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-784
JournalInternational Peacekeeping
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


  • Darfur
  • Protection of civilians
  • human rights
  • local staff

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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