The absence and limitations of civilian protection efforts have contributed to civilians in conflict zones adopting a variety of strategies to protect themselves from physical violence. These self-protection efforts have sometimes saved individuals and communities from violence and engendered a level of security. Nonetheless, the civilian protection literature and community have largely underestimated the importance of these self-protection strategies. This article traces the growth of the civilian protection regime and interrogates the absence of civilian self-protection therein. It reviews the emerging self-protection literature and offers a typology of civilian self-protection strategies. Additionally, this article sheds light on how self-protection strategies might undermine civilian protection, particularly when they contribute to civilian targeting during armed conflict. It also proposes ways in which this typology can be extended to foster theory building and can inform traditional civilian protection efforts.
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- School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies - Senior Lecturer