By Kyle Dietrich, Center for Civilians in Conflict
Since mid-2015, CIVIC’s Africa program has grown from one person in Washington to five people based in the US, Nigeria, and East Africa. And we are poised to continue growing. This growth is a direct result of both the sheer volume and complexity of conflicts across the continent and widespread recognition of CIVIC’s value in offering new solutions to how wars are fought and won. How? By putting the well-being of civilians at the center of our thinking, policies, and operations.
Over the past 13 years, CIVIC has developed an effective approach to improving the protection of civilians in armed conflicts around the world, engaging both in high-level policy development and in operational capacity building. Most of CIVIC’s legacy work has focused outside of Africa on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The legacy of that work is long and lasting, with countless examples available here.
Our Africa work, while new, has continued in this tradition by prioritizing field research, cross-cutting advocacy, forming local partnerships, and providing technical assistance to strengthen the protection of civilians by governments, militaries, peacekeepers, and by communities themselves. Over the past few years, we have engaged in Somalia, Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan, Ghana, Chad, Nigeria, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Today, CIVIC’s Africa program has three main tracks:
- Strengthening the protection of civilians by UN peacekeepers currently operating in DRC and South Sudan by focusing on high-level policy reform, peacekeeper training and performance, and community engagement;
- Helping Nigeria and its neighbors end the conflict against Boko Haram by improving civilian protection and civil-military relations, and by preventing civilian harm that results from military operations; and,
- Working with the African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) to support the mission’s capacity to prevent and respond to incidents of civilian harm and to better protect civilians from al Shabaab.
As a result of this growth, CIVIC has influenced thinking, policies, and operations in numerous countries across the continent, as well as in halls of power in New York, Washington, Brussels, London, and Addis Ababa. Looking ahead, we are excited to expand our work in the hope that someday soon we will struggle to find places in which our work is needed.
Photo by Kyle Dietrich, Center for Civilians in Conflict