The Protection of Civilians and the Primacy of Politics: Complementarities and Friction in South Sudan

In: Journal of International Peacekeeping
Jenna Russo The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA,

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Since 1999, the protection of civilians (poc) has become central to UN peacekeeping, included in the mandates of all contemporary multidimensional missions. At the same time, member states have reiterated their commitment to the so-called “primacy of politics” in UN peacekeeping. Yet, protection activities often live in fragile balance with the political objectives of the mission. The last two decades have shown that there can be both complementarities and areas of friction between poc and political processes. Yet, to date there has not been a thorough discussion of these patterns within the academic or policy literature. This research aims to contribute to this gap by analyzing the relationship between poc and the political process in South Sudan. This case is illustrative of ways in which protection activities can contribute to the overall peace process, though mission limitations and government obstinacy have limited its overall effect. Lessons from this case shed light on mechanisms by which poc activities may contribute to the political process, as well as challenges between the two.

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