16 May 2013 - 18 May 2013

Protecting civilians in armed conflict

Chair: The Rt Hon. Baroness Amos

Ditchley brought together one of its younger and more gender-balanced groups to discuss how to improve protection of civilians in armed conflict. The resulting discussions were predictably lively, and complex, with a lot of different threads tangled together.  Brisk (all-female) chairing of both the conference and the working groups kept us focused on practical recommendations for the future as well as on analysis.  The trick will be translating ideas into reality on the ground. We were very grateful for co-sponsorship and help from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Civilians continue to be the main victims of conflict around the world, though we were unsure whether the overall situation was getting better or worse. The fundamental national/local responsibility for protection of their own citizens should be maintained, and international actors should be modest and humble about what they can really achieve. In any case international protection of civilians must be seen as an outcome, not a process or an activity, and we need to find better ways of measuring our impact and being accountable for our actions. We did not see it as desirable to change the norms and conventions covering Protection of Civilians (POC). The issue is implementation.

Our most common failure is ignoring local perceptions and priorities about their own protection. Local views may not always be right or acceptable in principle, but they need to be the starting point for international action. We need to understand that our ways of framing issues may mean little to the local people, and that they are likely to be more focussed on practical issues, such as livelihoods and collective survival, than on individual rights. It is nevertheless legitimate to try to address issues such as routine toleration of violence in local communities, particularly violence against women, since that will shape what happens if conflict occurs.

Outside armed intervention is obviously one way of trying to protect civilians in extreme cases, but the balance of consequences always needs to be fully thought through. The concept of the international Responsibility to Protect (R2P) civilians when their own government will not or cannot do so adds to the moral obligation to act, but does not of itself tell us what the right solutions are. Peacekeeping forces now routinely have POC as their top priority, but too often that does not translate into effectiveness on the ground. Better leadership and above all better training are essential to improve their performance – but peacekeeping forces should not be seen as the one-size-fits-all answer to POC problems. Meanwhile monitoring real progress on the ground is now more important than refining mandates.

We looked hard at the essential relationship between protection and prevention, and the need to do more to improve early warning mechanisms, including through new technology. We also examined relations between humanitarians on the one hand, and military and political actors on the other, operating in the same space. More intensive dialogue is clearly needed, not least between humanitarians and politicians/diplomats, to ensure better mutual understanding, for example of why humanitarians need to talk to all actors, including those labelled ‘terrorists’.

While the problem of POC in armed conflict is a so-called ‘wicked problem’, where there are no solutions, only better or worse outcomes, we nevertheless came up with a long list of ideas and recommendations for all participants to take away and try to put into practice. It was easy to be gloomy about our many failures, and about current catastrophic situations for civilians, such as that in Syria. But we were still hopeful that we could do better in future, as POC norms took increasing hold and hiding crimes against humanity became almost impossible in the digital age. The trick was to use rising expectations as a spur to action, not just an occasion for hand-wringing about the gap with reality.


What does POC mean today?

We deliberately avoided becoming bogged down in arguments about the precise definition of POC, but there was agreement around the table that POC should be seen as an outcome, not an activity.  Data collection and monitoring had their value, and publication of information could be a useful deterrent in some circumstances.  But they could not be ends in themselves and needed to lead to some effective action on the ground if they were to be worth the effort.  Too many protection officers working away for different organisations, without any increase of actual protection, risked undermining the concept.  The aim of POC should not be zero casualties, since that was unattainable in any conflict, and simply set those concerned up for failure. Rather it should be seen as reducing or minimising casualties, suffering and abuses.

There was some debate about the best definition of civilians themselves.  Would we not do better to talk about, for example, the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children, since this would resonate more with many people?  This was resisted – men were also often victims, and indeed more young men were probably killed than any other group.  But we might get more public traction by talking about men, women and children than about the rather duller-sounding label of civilians, which did not in any case translate well everywhere.  It was also true that civilians were harder to define in the most frequent current contexts of internal conflicts involving asymmetric warfare.   But we should not fall into the trap of legitimising violence against civilians on the pretext that they were indistinguishable from “terrorists” hiding among them.

Had the problems we were facing changed?  We saw at least as much continuity as change, from situations such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Sudan in the past, to Syria now.  Most perpetrators of violence against civilians continued to get away with it, and some actors continued to see strategic value for themselves in targeting civilians.  Syria was very brutal, but not necessarily worse than some past conflicts.

Were we at least doing better at protecting civilians than in the past?  Some argued that there were less major wars between states, and less violence in the world, and that overall numbers of civilian casualties had probably fallen.  The norms of POC were increasingly widely understood.  Moreover it was much harder now to conceal what was happening when civilians were being attacked, given widespread availability of smart phones and instant use of social media.  The Hama/Syria massacre of 20,000 civilians 30 years ago had passed with barely a squeak from the international community.

On the other hand, it was argued that the gap between rhetoric, reflecting theoretical norms widely accepted in the international community, and reality, where civilians were little better protected if at all than in the past, was if anything widening.  Moreover civilians were particularly at risk in the internal conflicts which were now the most common form of armed violence and in which arms were freely available to almost all, including new variants such as IEDs.  It was also pointed out that our knowledge of the data about civilian casualties, both in the past and now, was poor.  We could not say with any confidence that numbers were rising or falling, whether absolutely or as a proportion of those affected by violence.

We also lacked good ways of measuring our impact in protecting civilians. This complicated the essential question of accountability. We should never forget that governments were responsible themselves for the protection of their own citizens, and should be wary of shifting blame for atrocities from those who actually carried them out to international organisations which could be said to have failed to prevent them. One of the problems of peacekeeping forces was precisely that they tended to give the impression that the responsibility for protecting civilians had shifted to them. But that did not change the need for those taking on international POC responsibilities to try to measure what impact they were having, and to be accountable for their own actions, or lack of them.
As a framework for thinking about POC, five modes of promotion for protection could be identified:-Increasing respect for International Humanitarian Law;

  • direct physical protection by soldiers/peacekeepers;
  • dedicated protection activities by agencies trying to create a protective environment;
  • mainstreaming of protection into rule of law, human rights and humanitarian/development activities;
  • restorative protection, encompassing accountability for abuses, compensation, and return/solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

We did not take this useful classification further, for example by trying to fit all activities under one or other category, but it underlay much of what we went on to debate. We reminded ourselves for example that simple measures, such as correct positioning of latrines and good use of lighting in camps, could make a huge difference to protection in practice.

International vs. local ideas of protection

A constant theme of the discussion was failure by international agencies and actors to take sufficient account of the views of local people about their own protection.  They did not necessarily think of it in the same terms as “we” did at all, often being less concerned by what was happening about individual human rights, and much more by the impact of conflict on livelihoods and collective survival.  Their choices about the right responses and priorities therefore might well be very different from what “we” would think appropriate.  This could range from regarding investment in basic infrastructure, for example roads in Liberia, as vital for their protection, to cases as extreme as regarding women collecting firewood who ran the risk of being raped as a better option than men collecting firewood who ran the risk of being killed.  Again, for a local community, engaging with local armed groups and “buying” protection in one way or another might seem the best option, even to the extent of supplying children as recruits for them, however short-sighted or narrow an approach that might seem to outsiders.

We also needed to recognise that international efforts to increase protection of civilians in particular contexts were almost always likely to be secondary to local efforts, and our impact might in many cases be marginal, or even counterproductive.  This was not an argument against the development of universal norms or against trying to help. But it did mean we should be very careful indeed about not raising expectations about what we could achieve.  Modesty and humility should be our watchwords.

On the other hand we should not regard local views as automatically right.  Their solutions could well be negative both for them and their neighbours, even in their own terms, or could be unacceptable in terms of values we would want to uphold in all circumstances, for example against forced child marriage.  We could not abandon our principles, even if we had to be pragmatic at times.  Moreover local views were rarely monolithic, even within small communities.

Nevertheless we should always ensure when approaching problems of protection that we were taking fully into account local views and perceptions.  This also involved understanding much better than we usually did what was actually happening on the ground and what the local dynamics were.  “Context, context, context”, as one participant put it.  Our knowledge was often poor, and our analysis even poorer.  We should involve much more those who had this knowledge, for example anthropologists who really understood local societies, as well as talking systematically to the locals themselves.

The necessity of fully factoring in local views should also change how we framed problems and situations.  We should not frame them primarily in terms of concepts such as POC or human rights, but try to relate these to principles and norms found almost everywhere. We also had to factor in more how we could bring the violence or underlying political problem to an end, recognising that humanitarian action could only provide sticking plasters, not solutions.

Legitimacy of action was crucial.  We agreed that the trend was clearly towards increasing legitimacy of the local and decreasing legitimacy of the international.  This was causing intense questioning among international actors about what “our” role should be.  There were no neat solutions here – context was again essential.  One key issue was the all-too frequent clash of perceptions/narratives.  Armed groups clearly labelled as “terrorists” by Western states were not necessarily seen as such by local people. Western countries could also often be seen as hypocritical, claiming to intervene in some situations to protect civilians, while simultaneously using methods and weapons elsewhere (for example drones) which were seen by others as doing anything but protect civilians.  Clashes of perceptions/narratives were not of course new.  But the competition between them was now being conducted at global level, and what you believed depended on what you read.

Should some armed actors be seen as impervious to any moral feeling about the need to protect civilians? Most thought that was too simplistic. Even groups considered by many to be beyond the pale usually had some sort of moral code of their own. None should be considered as beyond the reach of attempts to convince them of the need to respect IHL. While civilians were sometimes deliberately targeted as part of a calculated strategy, the problem in other conflicts was that combatants ceased to see anyone on the other side as really civilians, and behaved accordingly. This issue could be tackled through careful dialogue.

We also discussed the need to encourage cultural change where that would help protect civilians. If violence was routinely tolerated within a community, it was much harder to prevent it in the event of a conflict involving other communities. This particularly applied for example to violence against women and girls. If domestic violence was prevalent and accepted, this inevitably had knock-on effects under the stress of conflict. Helping change such attitudes, in a culturally sensitive way, was an important part of prevention.

POC law

We looked at whether the current legal conventions covering POC needed to be changed or modernised.  There was consensus that, while there might be a couple of areas where modifications could be introduced (for example compliance mechanisms, and detention norms in asymmetric warfare contexts), and while there was no doubt theoretical room for improvement overall, it was best not to go down the path of reopening the texts.  The risks of losing control of the process and finishing up with something significantly worse were simply too high.  The motives of some who wanted change were also suspect.

Intervention and R2P

Whilst this was not a conference to debate the merits of intervention, we could hardly avoid the issue.  We tried, not always successfully, to avoid seeing intervention exclusively through the prism of the last resort of armed intervention.  Most international actions could be classified as intervention of one kind or another, and international efforts to increase POC were bound to involve interventions of some kind.  The basic guiding principle for all interventions should be “do no harm”.  Calculating the balance of likely consequences was the most essential prior step before action.

Where did R2P fit in?  We saw it as creating a moral and political obligation to try to act, not a legal one.  Its increasing acceptance by states around the world was encouraging, if still fragile. But it did not automatically lead to solutions, as we could clearly see in Syria. Moreover the Western handling of the Libyan intervention had led to a backlash against R2P, and not just from Russia and China.  Should we now try to define the criteria for the application of R2P more formally, for example in the Security Council, or continue to rely on the General Assembly?  We had no time to debate this out, and were left with the uncomfortable concern that, by concentrating for the most part on POC actions falling short of significant intervention, reflecting the mainly humanitarian make-up of the participants, we might be dodging some of the real issues.


One form of intervention we spent a lot of time on was peacekeeping, mostly the UN variety.  Much anecdotal evidence was heard about the failure of UN peacekeeping forces to protect civilians effectively, for example in eastern DRC. POC was now at the top of the priorities of nearly all current peacekeeping mandates.  But writing this down in a Security Council resolution did not make it happen on the ground.  We saw multiple reasons for this:

  • Peacekeeping forces inserted into situations which were unready or unsuitable for their presence - “no peace to keep”.
  • “Christmas-tree” mandates, hung about with every task the international community’s collective wisdom and conscience could devise – if everything was a priority, nothing was a priority.
  • Failure to translate POC elements of a mandate into operational directives which made sense to military leaders and contingents.
  • Poor, and poorly trained, leadership.
  • Lack of training for military contingents, and rapid rotation of such contingents.
  • Lack of police and civilian expertise, often more useful than the military in complex environments.

The record was not all bad.  Successes had been registered in places like East Timor, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  There had been innovative efforts to protect civilians, even in very difficult places like DRC.  But even where there had been good practice which seemed to work, such as an Indian female police contingent in Liberia, this had not been spread.  Our conclusion was not that peacekeeping should be abandoned as a POC device. But the option of not sending in peacekeepers, and trying harder at political solutions instead, should be considered more often than it seemed to be. Meanwhile we should redouble efforts to make existing peacekeeping operations more effective at POC. 100,000 UN peacekeepers were still out there, and could do a better job. Much more systematic training had to be a key part of this, with simple messages frequently repeated, rather than over-complicated guidance which would never sink in.  It might also help if more western countries returned to readiness to offer peacekeeping contingents themselves.

For the future, the option of sending Special Political Missions (SPMs) should also be looked at more positively, rather than always reaching for a peacekeeping force. There was no reason why SPMs should not have specific POC mandates too, and be better equipped in some ways to make it happen than traditional peacekeeping forces.

The POC Working Group of Security Council members, set up by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) a few years ago, had been a useful device, but it should now focus more on monitoring progress on the ground than on influencing mandates. In general we needed to find ways of putting together local knowledge about what was really going on, and international tools which could make a difference if correctly targeted.

Meanwhile what were we to make of apparent peacekeeping innovations like the Intervention Brigade in DRC?  Most thought that in practice they would only be implementing the existing mandate as robustly as it should have been implemented anyway.  Others thought that offensive peace enforcement of the kind which seemed to be contemplated could not be mixed with classic peacekeeping, and feared the worst.

These discussions led us to question the wider role of the UN in the modern world. Should we not be seeking to devolve more responsibilities, including in the area of POC, to regional organisations? In theory, perhaps, yes. In practice, these organisations had little capacity and less experience. For now, they could not be the solution, though they should certainly be encouraged to do more.

Case studies

Some of the discussion focussed on how to translate POC theories into practical action on the ground, in the three obvious stages of conflict – before, during and after.  Myanmar, Syria and DRC were chosen to symbolise these stages, though the first and third did not fit the categories at all neatly.

The growing violence against the Muslim minority from the Buddhist majority was of huge concern.  We acknowledged that we needed to know more about the roots of what was happening, in particular whether long-standing tensions were deliberately being manipulated by anti-reformers playing a wider game.  But the situation was in any case deeply worrying, and not being tackled effectively either by local political figures or outsiders.  Some outside attention might easily make things worse. For example Muslim countries becoming involved in defending the Muslim minority might only feed Buddhist paranoia.  Nevertheless we saw a number of areas where action might be helpful, in what could be seen as a test case for the early stages of an R2P approach aimed at preventing major crimes before they happened:

  • Take decisive action against hate speech and incitement;
  • Train local police capacity on better ways to deal with ethnic violence;
  • Open a space for real dialogue between the communities;
  • Engage sympathetic non-western outsiders who could be helpful, for example individual ASEAN countries with good links to Myanmar like Indonesia, and perhaps the OIC.

Like the rest of the world, we struggled to identify good ways forward, and were gloomy about the immediate prospects.  Major armed intervention from the outside by Western powers seemed both unlikely and undesirable. Even options more attractive-sounding in theory, such as no-fly zones or safe areas, were likely to lead fairly quickly to large-scale military confrontation with the Syrian armed forces. In any case the likelihood of an international legal basis for them was remote for now. At the same time doing nothing also seemed increasingly intolerable.  Some supported lethal aid for the rebels as a least bad option which would put more pressure on the regime (and the Russians) to negotiate.  Others pointed to the real risks of prolonging/aggravating conflict, the problem of identifying ‘moderate’ rebels, and the difficulty of controlling into whose hands any arms supplied might fall.

In any case the likelihood of an international legal basis for them was remote for now. At the same time doing nothing also seemed increasingly intolerable.  Some supported lethal aid for the rebels as a least bad option which would put more pressure on the regime (and the Russians) to negotiate.  Others pointed to the real risks of prolonging/aggravating conflict, the problem of identifying ‘moderate’ rebels, and the difficulty of controlling into whose hands any arms supplied might fall.
Two options which attracted wide support were:

  • keeping the peace conference called by the US and Russia in permanent session, in one way or another (“conference-in-continuity”), to keep channels open, encourage a dialogue and enable contingency planning, in anticipation of the moment when a real negotiation might become possible.
  • stepping up humanitarian aid, both inside and outside the country, while recognising that this could only be a short-term palliative, not a solution.

Meanwhile it was argued that the hardest contexts like Syria should not be the framework against which we judged POC in general.

The problem here was that conflict was not really over, while almost everything in the international toolbox had been tried, without conspicuous success.  The new ‘intervention brigade’ might make a difference, but that was not guaranteed.  The UN needed to be honest about the limitations not only of what it had achieved, but also of what it could achieve.  The following ideas were also put forward:

  • The big powers had to be more active in making existing peace agreements stick.
  • Something serious needed to be done about controlling access to the mineral wealth, which continued to fuel conflict in every sense.
  • National/local justice systems and accountability mechanisms needed radical improvement.  It should not all be left to the ICC.

Civil-military relations

Our discussions inevitably hit the tricky issue of how humanitarians and military actors worked together on the ground, and the long-standing and controversial question of how far humanitarians could be integrated into wider multilateral approaches.  The many humanitarians in the room rehearsed why, in most conflict situations, integration risked the perception of working to others’ political and military objectives, thereby jeopardising both safety and operational effectiveness, and why military forces should not themselves be given humanitarian/development roles except in extremis.  Others explained the thinking behind the drive for integration and for “comprehensive approaches”, and the risks they saw in humanitarians ploughing their own furrow. Humanitarian actions could have unintended negative consequences, just as military interventions usually did.

One difficult area was that of engagement with armed groups.  Humanitarians strongly believed that they needed to talk to all groups who exercised control on the ground and had the capability to harm civilians, to explain their IHL responsibilities and negotiate access for acceptance of humanitarian operations, even when these groups were regarded by others as “terrorists”, beyond the political pale.  Others wondered about the wisdom of such engagement in some cases, where groups could be given political credibility they did not merit.  The response was that these risks were recognised, and those concerned trained to avoid them.
One obvious conclusion was the need for humanitarians and the military to redouble their efforts at dialogue, to make sure they understood each other and respected each other’s roles.  This dialogue needed to be constant, particularly on the ground, to cope with rapid rotation.  But training and exercising together more before encountering each other on the ground would also be extremely valuable.  A dialogue which currently did not take place, but clearly needed to, was one between humanitarians and political/diplomatic actors.  New fora might be needed for this.

We also considered the relationship between counter-terrorism (CT) efforts and humanitarian/POC concerns. CT was itself supposed to be about protecting civilians, but some actions undertaken in its name, for example drone strikes, certainly also involved civilian casualties. Meanwhile CT legislation could have a serious negative effect on humanitarian efforts, for example by preventing useful engagement with armed groups seen as terrorists, and restricting aid to areas where ‘terrorists’ were operating.

Protection and prevention

There was agreement that any idea of protection and prevention being at odds with each other should be strongly rejected.  Prevention should be at the heart of protection.  Early warning, early engagement, and contingency planning were all essential parts of protection.  Not all conflict could be prevented, and not all conflict was of itself necessarily bad, but even if it could not be prevented, good protection consisted of preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during conflict.  Moreover communities with good protection systems in place in advance were more likely to survive conflict and respond in effective ways – resilience was a key concept here.

Part of prevention was good information about what was really going on. One source which had been comparatively neglected recently, for budgetary reasons, was comprehensive monitoring of local media, in local languages. This could reveal when hate speech and incitement was reaching dangerous levels. Monitoring of social media was also an important tool for the same reasons. Good information would not help if the political will to ring the alarm bells was lacking, but without it we would not even get to first base. For the same reason, horizon-scanning, for example in the Security Council, needed to be more systematic and action-oriented.


The subject lends itself even less than most to neat conclusions, but we nevertheless tried to identify practical ways forward. The following list attempts to tabulate these, at the risk of some repetition of the previous text:

  • Ensure POC is seen as an outcome not a process or a set of activities
  • Keep the focus on national/local responsibility for their own citizens
  • Define the international aim in any specific context clearly, and set up impact
  • Measurement/accountability mechanisms from the start
  • Ensure that UN Country Teams and Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators see POC as a priority,and are trained and supported accordingly
  • Emphasise the importance of leadership in bringing about POC, and train leaders accordingly
  • Always approach POC through the prism of local perceptions and local priorities, while not abandoning universal principles and values
  • Recognise the limits of international action, even in favourable circumstances
  • Intensify efforts to understand the local dynamics thoroughly, including through constant dialogue with local people and groups
  • Recognise the importance of land issues as a driver of local conflict
  • Recognise that protection of civilians on the ground often involves practical steps such as better infrastructure, protection of livelihoods, more thoughtful camp provisions, and broader resilience of local  communities
  • Support local community networks, such as peace committees
  • Improve local early warning systems, for example using new technology
  • Recognise the limits of outside military intervention, and always ensure that the balance of consequences of any intervention is fully factored into decision-making
  • Work on improving further international acceptance of R2P principles, and refining the justifying criteria
  • Translate peacekeeping mandates, including their POC provisions, into operational directives which military commanders can realistically implement
  • Train peacekeepers far more intensively in POC, while not over-complicating the messages
  • Monitor peacekeeping mandate implementation much more closely, including through the Security Council POC Working Group
  • Consider more positively using Special Political Missions, not always peacekeepers
  • Improve Security Council horizon-scanning, with an action-oriented focus
  • Improve monitoring of local media and social media, in local languages, and act early on evidence of hate speech and incitement
  • Address more consciously the issues of inconsistency of approach between different geographical contexts and the risks of apparent hypocrisy
  • Recognise the need for humanitarian organisations to talk to all actors with influence on the ground, even those listed as ‘terrorists’
  • Recognise that consent/acceptance by locals is the best assurance of safe and effective operations
  • Intensify the dialogue between military and humanitarian actors globally, and in specific contexts, and increase pre-deployment joint exercises, to build trust and relationships
  • Create a dialogue between humanitarians and political/diplomatic actors, and consider the introduction of identified liaison officers between them in specific contexts
  • Intensify lesson-learning from previous deployments and situations, and above all apply the lessons for the future
  • Reconsider the value of global and local protection clusters, versus mainstreaming of protection concerns across other clusters
  • Recognise that action against sexual violence in crises is life-saving, not just nice to add on, and programme resources accordingly
  • Address toleration of violence in local communities and cultures, including domestic violence against women and girls, before conflict breaks out.


We recognised that POC was a ‘wicked’ problem where there are no solutions to an issue with an ever-changing shape, only better or worse outcomes. We always needed to find ways of marrying our principles with pragmatism. We also accepted that POC was in the end largely about politics – persuading the political actors that they need to take the issue seriously, and find solutions to the underlying political problems. While much of our conversation was gloomily focussed on our failures to offer enough protection to civilians trapped in conflict, we were also determinedly optimistic that we could find ways of doing better in future. The rising acceptance of the norms of POC, the increasing impossibility of concealing crimes against humanity, and the spreading view that inaction was intolerable in the face of such crimes, were all hopeful signs, even if the current reality in situations like Syria remained depressing. Rising expectations should be used as a positive spur to action, not a negative reflection on how far we were falling short. However, one worrying trend identified by a number of speakers was the apparent bureaucratisation of humanitarian action, and its increasing risk aversion. Local solutions might usually be best, but international action without a significant presence on the ground where the terrible things were actually happening was unlikely to be effective or even noticed.


CHAIR : The Rt Hon. Baroness Amos
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations (2010-); Life Peer (Labour), House of Lords (1997-). Formerly: British High Commissioner to Australia (2009-10); Chair, Royal African Society (2007-09); Leader of the House of Lords (2003-07); Secretary of State for International Development (2003); Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2001-03); Government Whip, House of Lords (1998-2001); Director, Amos Freaser Bernard (1995-98); Chief Executive, Equal Opportunities Commission (1989-94).

Mr Tabib Huseynov

Caucasus Programme Manager, Saferworld (2012-). Formerly: Consultant on human displacement and human security in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Brookings Institution and Saferworld; Caucasus Analyst, International Crisis Group, Baku (2007-11); Political Programs Officer, International Republican Institute, Baku (2004-07).

Professor The Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC FASSA

Chancellor and Honorary Professorial Fellow, Australian National University (2010-); Humanitas Visiting Professor in Statecraft and Diplomacy, University of Cambridge (2013). Formerly: President and CEO, International Crisis Group, Brussels (2000-09); Co-Chair, International Commissions on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (2008-10) and Intervention and State Sovereignty (2000-01); Member, United Nations Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2004); Foreign Minister of Australia (1988-96).

Dr Simon Adams

Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, New York; Special Advisor to the Monash-Oxfam Partnership; Board Member, Catalpa International. Formerly: Pro Vice Chancellor (International Engagement), Monash University; Vice President, South African campus, Monash University (2008-10).

Professor Alex Bellamy

Professor of International Security, Griffith Asia Institute/Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University (2010-); Co-Editor, 'Global Responsibility to Protect'. Formerly: Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies (2002-10), Professor of International Relations and Executive Director, Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland (2007-10); Lecturer in Defence Studies, King's College London (2000-02); Co-Chair, Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Study Group on the Responsibility to Protect.

Dr Vesselin Popovski

Senior Academic Programme Officer, Institute for Sustainability and Peace, United Nations University, Tokyo (2004-); Advisory Board Member, Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies. Formerly: International Law Expert, European Union TACIS Project, 'Legal Protection of Individual Rights in Russian Federation', Moscow (2002-04); Lecturer in International Security, Department of Politics, University of Exeter (1999-2002).

Mr Jocelyn Coulon

Research Fellow (2005-), Director, Francophone Research Network on Peace Operations, and Director ad interim, CERIUM (International Studies and Research Centre), University of Montreal; Council Member and former Director of the Montreal Campus (1999-2003), Pearson Peace Centre.
Dr David Malone
Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo (2013-). Formerly: President, International Development Research Centre (2008-13); High Commissioner of Canada to India and Ambassador to Bhutan and Nepal (2006-08); Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Issues, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Ottawa (2005-06); Assistant Deputy Minister, Africa and Middle East (2004-05); President, International Peace Academy, New York (1998-2004); Director-General, International Organisations and Global Issues Bureaux, DFAIT (1994-98); Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN (1990-94). A Member of the Program Advisory Committee, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation.
General Walter Natynczyk (Retd) CMM, MSC, CD
Formerly: Chief of the Defence Staff, Canadian Military Forces (2008-12). Formerly: Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (2006-08).

Ms Afshan Khan

Chief Executive Officer, Women for Women International, Washington DC (2012-). Formerly: UNICEF: Director, Public Sector Alliances and Resource Mobilization Office; Deputy Director, Emergency Operations; Associate Director, Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office.

Professor Frank Chalk PhD

Director, The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, and Professor of History, Concordia University; Member, International Task Force for Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, Canadian Advisory Council (2012-); Consulting Editor, Gale's 'Genocide and Persecution' series (2011-). Formerly: President, International Association of Genocide Scholars; President, Canadian Association for African Studies; Fellow, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC; Fulbright Professor, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Mr Guilhem Ravier

Head, Protection of the Civilian Population Unit, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva. Formerly: Protection Coordinator, ICRC delegations: Colombia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iraq; Protection Division, Legal Division, International Organisations' Division, ICRC, Geneva.

Sir Christopher Greenwood CMG QC

Judge, International Court of Justice, The Hague (2009-); Bencher, Middle Temple (2003-); Honorary Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge (2009-). Formerly: Barrister; Professor of International Law, London School of Economics (1996-2009); Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge (1978-96). A Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Dr Mathieu Guidère

Professor and Middle-Eastern and Islamic World Chair, University of Toulouse; Senior Fellow, The Brain Sciences Foundation; Recipient, Fulbright Prize for the 'Radicalization Watch Project'.  Formerly: Chair, Strategic Information Unit, French Military Academy, Saint-Cyr (2003-07).

Mr Charles Petrie

Partner, DQP Human Security Consultants, Paris. Formerly: Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations; Executive Representative for Burundi and Head, UN Integrated Office in Burundi; Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia; Chief, UN Emergency Unit, Sudan; Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Somalia; Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Rwanda; Special Assistant to the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Gaza; Senior Humanitarian Adviser, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Director of Policy and Planning; UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Mr Mohammad Farid Hamidi

Commissioner, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Kabul; Chairman, Presidential Advisory Board on senior governmental appointments; Co-Founder, Foundation for Civil Society and Culture; Electoral Advisor, Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan; Lawyer. Formerly: Commissioner, Emergency Loya Jirga Commission; Member, Presidential study group on radicalisation of Afghans.

Dr Sara Pantuliano

Head, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, London (2006-); Member, World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Catastrophic Risk; Managing Editor, Disasters journal. Formerly: Head, Peace Building Unit in Sudan, United Nations Development Programme; Italian Government Observer, IGAD Sudan peace process; Lecturer in Conflict Analysis and Development, University of Dar es Salaam.

Ms Ingrid Macdonald

Resident Representative, Geneva, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Formerly: Head of Advocacy, NRC; Regional Protection and Advocacy Manager, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, NRC; Sudan Policy Advisor, Oxfam, Khartoum; Mining Ombudsman, Oxfam; Deputy Director of Research, Policy and Projects, New Zealand Defence Force.

Ms Simone Haysom

Research Officer, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute, London.

Ms Eva Svoboda

Research Fellow, Humanitarian Research Group, Overseas Development Institute, London. Formerly: Protection Coordinator, Head of Office and Head of Delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross (1999-2012); Swiss Development Agency, West Bank and Jordan.

Professor Sir Michael Aaronson CBE

Professorial Research Fellow and Executive Director, The Centre for International Intervention, University of Surrey (2011-); Honorary Fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford (2012-); Non-Executive Director, Oxford Policy Management (2006-). Formerly: Founder Member and Chairman (2001-08), Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Geneva; Governor (2001-07) and Vice Chair (2005-07), Westminster Foundation for Democracy, London; Director General (1995-2005) and Overseas Director (1988-95), Save the Children UK; HM Diplomatic Service (1972-88).
The Rt Hon. Sir Malcolm Bruce MP
Member of Parliament (Liberal Democrat) for Gordon (1983-); Member, Joint Committee on National Security Strategy (2010-), Quadripartite Committee on Strategic Export Controls/Arms Export Controls (2005-); Chair, House of Commons International Development Select Committee (2005-); President, Scottish Liberal Democrats (2000-). Formerly: Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Trade and Industry (2003-05), on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2001-02); Chair of the Parliamentary Party (1999-2001); Treasury Spokesman (1994-99).
Dr Comfort Ero
Director, Africa Program, International Crisis Group, Nairobi (2011-). Formerly: Deputy Africa Program Director, International Center for Transitional Justice (2008-10); Political Affairs Officer and Policy Advisor to the Special Representative of the Secretary General, UN Mission in Liberia (2004-07); West Africa Project Director, International Crisis Group (2001-04); Research Fellow, Conflict, Security and Development Group, Centre for Defence Studies, King's College, London (1999-2001).
Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG
Chair, UNA-UK (2011-); Chairman, Gatehouse Advisory Partners, London (2010-); Chairman, Lambert Energy Advisory Ltd (2011-). Formerly; Special Adviser, BP plc (2004-10); HM Diplomatic Service (1969-2004); UK Special Representative for Iraq (2003-04); Ambassador and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1998-2003). A Governor and former Director (2004-10) of The Ditchley Foundation.
Ms Ashley Jackson
Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute; Advisor on Afghanistan to International Development Committee, UK Parliament; Contributor on Afghanistan, Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium. Formerly: Department of Political Affairs, UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA); Head of Policy, Oxfam; Disaster relief and recovery operations, Southeast Asia, Red Cross.
Mr Dan Smith OBE
Secretary-General, International Alert (2003-). Formerly: UN Peacebuilding Fund's Advisory Group, New York: Chair (2009-11), Member (2007-09); Chair, Institute of War and Peace Reporting, London (1992-2006); International Peace Research Institute, Oslo: Senior Adviser (2001-03), Director (1993-2001); Transnational Institute, Amsterdam: Director (1991-93), Associate Director (1988-91).

Ms Lilianne Fan

Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute; Inter-Agency Standing Committee, Shelter and Protection Cluster, Haiti; Advisor to ASEAN Special Envoy on Post-Nargis Recovery, ASEAN Humanitarian Task-Force, Myanmar; Member, Governor of Aceh's Advisory Team, Aceh, Indonesia; Senior Policy Coordinator, Oxfam Tsunami Response, Aceh; Advisor to Free Aceh Movement on peace negotiations; Advisor on Special Projects (Acehnese refugees), UNHCR Malaysia.
Dr Babu Rahman
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (1998-): Senior Principal Research Analyst, Multilateral Research Group. Formerly: Head, Planning and Countries Team, Stabilisation Unit (2009-11); Head, Conflict Research Team (2007-09); Policy Analyst, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit (2005-07); Strategic Delivery Unit, British Embassy, Kabul (2006); Helmand Preliminary Operations and Joint Civ-Mil Planning Team, Kandahar (2005); Head, International Security and Institutions Research Group, FCO (2001-05).

Mr Roland Schilling

Representative for the UK, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (2009-). Formerly: UNHCR in Turkey, Sri Lanka, Germany, Moldova, Yemen and Hong Kong (1991-2009).

Mr Hansjoerg Strohmeyer

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (1998-): Chief, Policy Development and Studies Branch (2007-); Secretary to the Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis (2008). Formerly: Chief of Staff, then Special Adviser of Border Management and Arms Proliferation to the SRSG, United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNMSIL) (2011); Chief of Staff to Emergency Relief Coordinator/Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Afffairs (2002-06); Head of Secretariat, IASC/Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (2002-05).

Dr Susan Bissell PhD

UNICEF (1987-): Associate Director, Programme Division, and Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF, New York (2009-); Honorary Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University. Formerly: Editorial Board Member, report of UN Secretary General's Study on Violence Against Children (released 2006); Head of Research Unit, Innocenti Research Center, Chief of Child Protection in India (2001-04).

Ms Karin Landgren

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia, Monrovia (2012-). Formerly: Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Burundi and Head of the UN Mission in Burundi; Representative of the Secretary-General to Nepal; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eritrea and Singapore; Head of Child Protection, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (1998-2008); Legal Adviser, UNHCR (1994-98).

Dr Edward Luck

Dean, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego (2012-). Formerly: Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the responsibility to protect (2008-12); Visiting Senior Fellow then Senior Vice President, Research and Programs, International Peace Institute (2007-11); Professor of Practice, Director of the Center on International Organization, and Director of the UN Studies Program, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University (2001-10).
Ms Sandrine Tiller
Adviser on Humanitarian Issues, Médecins Sans Frontières UK, London. Formerly: Head of Sector for Movement Cooperation, Middle East and North Africa, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and ICRC Cooperation Coordinator in Beirut and Jerusalem (2002-09); Adviser, British Red Cross (2000-01 and 2010-11); UNDP Eritrea and Tanzania (1996-99).

The Hon. John Bellinger III

Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington DC; Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations; Member, Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law; Member, Department of Defense Legal Policy Board; Member, Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. Formerly: Legal Adviser to the US Department of State, Washington DC (2005-09); Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (2001-05); Counsel for National Security Matters, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice (1997-2001).
Dr Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, Brookings Institution. Formerly: Head, Relief and Development Program, World Council of Churches, Geneva; Director, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service, New York; Research Director, Life and Peace Institute, Uppsala, Sweden; Fulbright Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Ms Sarah Holewinski
Executive Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Washington DC (2006-); Senior Fellow, Truman National Security Project; Member, Council on Foreign Relations. Formerly: Consultant to: Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center, India; Human Rights Watch, New York; Institute for State Effectiveness, Kosovo; The William J. Clinton Foundation, Rwanda; Speechwriter, West Wing Writers; Member, The White House AIDS Policy team.

Ms Victoria Holt
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, US Department of State (2009-). Formerly: Senior Associate and Co-Director, Future of Peace Operations program, Henry L. Stimpson Centre, Washington DC.
Ms Jennifer McAvoy
Director of Protection, Humanitarian Policy and Practice Team, InterAction, Washington DC. Formerly: Policy Advisor-Protection, OCHA Protection and Displacement Section, Policy Studies and Development Branch (2007-11); Oxfam GB (1998-2005).
Mr David Javier Thompson
Postgraduate Fulbright Scholar 2012-13; Refugee Care MA Program, University of Essex.

Dr Chaloka Beyani

Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva (2010-); Professor of International Law, London School of Economics.