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Protecting civilians: Distinct approaches and complementary roles

18-03-2013 Event

The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are pleased to invite you on to an interactive discussion on complementary approaches to ensuring the protection of civilians affected by conflict and violence.

Event Info

Aleppo. A family clings together for protection during an attack.

Where: Trygve Lie Center for Peace, Security & Development, International Peace Institute, 12th Floor, 777 United Nations Plaza (1st Avenue and 44th Street), New York, USA.
Watch the discussion

When: 19.03.2013

As the ICRC celebrates 150 years of humanitarian action, effective protection of civilians in conflict remains a critical and elusive challenge for humanitarian actors and the broader international community. In the last two decades – since wars in the Balkans, Somalia, and Rwanda inflicted a horrific toll on civilians – countless humanitarian organizations have explicitly added the protection of civilians to their core institutional objectives.

Meanwhile, the international community has created new tools to address this urgent issue:

  • Protection of civilians has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council since 1999 and is increasingly included in the mandates of peacekeeping missions.
  • The International Criminal Court was established in 2002 to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
  • The Responsibility to Protect commitment was adopted in 2005 to prevent and stop mass atrocities.

Despite these efforts, recent conflicts in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Syria continually remind us that civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence in conflict.

Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, will discuss past and current challenges to protecting civilians in conflict and reflect on the relevance and complementarity of different approaches. He will be joined in this debate by Michael Keating, former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and currently senior adviser to the UN Secretary-General’s Executive Office on the protection of civilians, and Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and author of the book The Politics of Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action (Brookings Institution Press, 2011).

Please join us for a lively and candid debate that will draw on the lessons learnt and experience acquired in the course of 150 years of humanitarian action. This forum will offer a much needed time of reflection on the respective role and responsibilities of states, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations with regard to the protection of civilians.

The moderator will be Warren Hoge, IPI’s Senior Adviser for External Relations.


  • Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Michael Keating, Senior Adviser on the Protection of Civilians, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General and Senior Consulting Fellow, Chatham House
  • Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Brookings Institution, and author of The Politics of Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action (Brookings Institution Press, 2011)

Questions? Please contact Marvin Eliza Trujillo on +1 (212) 225 9601 or via e-mail.