Political Conflict

The Geography of Violence Against Civilians: Implications for Peace Enforcement

Author(s): Jay Benson
Date: February 21, 2018
Publication Type: Discussion Paper


UN peacekeeping operations have evolved in recent years to include more robust missions that pursue peace enforcement in a way not previously seen. The central question of this report is: how does peace enforcement change where an actor targeted with intervention uses violence against civilians. The report finds that armed groups significantly reduce the area over which they target civilians. This has important implications for forces responsible for protecting civilians in peace enforcement missions.

Key Findings:

  • When faced with outside intervention, armed groups withdraw into the places where they have previously used violence against civilians rather than committing violence in new areas.
  • Given the finding above, troops and intelligence assets can be deployed in more concentrated areas, allowing intervening forces to develop better situational awareness, and respond to acts of violence against civilians more effectively.

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