From September 28-29, 2021, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), in partnership with the Minister of Defense of Niger and the Army War College Nigeria, will be holding a two-day workshop in Niamey, Niger to share best practices and lessons learned to enhance the protection of civilians by security and defense forces in Africa. The Pan-African Workshop on the Protection of Civilians (PAW-POC) is supported by European Union (EU)-funded grants to advance the protection of civilians in the Sahel, Nigeria, and East Africa.

Over the years we have seen proliferation of non-state armed groups across Africa and an associated increase in military operations. Civilians face difficult decisions to protect themselves while security and defense forces also face asymmetric threats. The increase in armed group attacks coupled with increased military operations often leave civilians caught in the middle. It is therefore essential that security forces consider the needs of civilians and prioritize their protection during military responses.

Within this complex and concerning context, many defense and security forces in Africa are developing strategies, capabilities, and procedures to better protect civilians from attacks by non-state armed groups and reduce harm to civilians within their zones of operation. The objective of the Pan-African Workshop on the Protection of Civilians is to bring together generals and senior officers from various countries across Africa and representatives from African military coalitions to discuss and share best military practices for the protection of civilians. At CIVIC, we believe that civilian harm in conflict zones is not inevitable. Security and defense forces are critical stakeholders who have the responsibility, but also need the capabilities, to better protect civilians. For change to be durable, CIVIC believes that it must be driven from inside militaries themselves, integrated into their education systems, reinforced through training and exercises, and responded to before, during, and after operations. This workshop will form the foundation of future collaboration with security actors on the protection of civilians.

The PAW-POC aims to:

  • Allow generals, senior officers, and practitioners at all levels to share lessons learned on the protection of civilians in their zones of operations over the years.
  • Provide a platform for stakeholders to exchange ideas on improving civil-military relations with a view towards improving the protection of civilians.
  • Support the identification and adoption of best practices for the participants themselves, and to be developed and implemented in other regions and countries in Africa.

The two-day workshop will cover a range of topics such as civil-military engagement, monitoring and responding to civilian casualties, operational planning for the protection of civilians, and approaches to protection of civilians training.  The discussions during the workshop will help inform militaries’ future work on improving civilian protection policies and practices in Africa.


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