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Unarmed Civilian Protection

UCP Methods

UCP methods (and related skills) are focused on creating productive relationships with key actors across different levels of society (grassroots, middle-range and top level), as well as across dividing lines of conflict.

Proactive engagement refers to the need to be proactive and assertive for the sake of providing protection. Though the mere presence of observers from other countries may contribute to protection efforts, such cases tend to be isolated. According to Liam Mahony “What is needed is not passive presence for its own sake, but well-informed and carefully analyzed strategies and tactics that use the presence of each [UCP practitioner] to influence all the actors around them”. Proactive presence has three different, but closely related, practical applications protective presence, protective accompaniment and inter-positioning.

Monitoring activities include ceasefire monitoring, rumor control, and early warning/early response. Though ceasefire monitoring is perhaps the most prominent and most complex application of monitoring, UCPs also monitor many other events and proceedings, such as disarmament processes, political events (e.g. demonstrations, elections), legal proceedings (e.g. trials, tribunals) and social events (e.g. holidays, celebrations, parades).

Relationship building is essential to all UCP activities. Having a credible relationship with key actors and other stakeholders helps to open up channels of communication between conflict parties. It helps to quell rumors, and support interventions to help de-escalate violence. It also enhances the safety and security of the UCPs themselves who are deployed in areas of violent conflict.

Capacity development takes several forms; in particular, the direct involvement of communities in UCP practice provides an opportunity for the effective and sustainable transfer of skills and competences from UCPs to local actors. Additionally, the exposure of local communities to nonviolent methods supports the transition from a culture of violence to a culture of peace it shows affected communities that it is possible to reduce violence without violence - i.e. without relying on the use of armed force.

Strengthening local capacities is central for sustainability. UCPs work to preserve and reinforce these capacities, so as to enable local communities taking direct responsibilities for stronger protection and the broader local peace process. Strong civilian capacities are considered to be essential in the transition from war to sustainable peace. UCPs work to strengthen these capacities even in devastated countries and they pay particular attention to the potentialities of the communities they serve.