Global Protection Cluster

Community-Led Protection
The Issue

Protection in humanitarian action is grounded in the aims of preventing or reducing harms to civilians and supporting the realization of their rights. This places a firm and needed focus on the duties of parties to a conflict and the authorities, from local to national levels, to reduce harms and protect rights. Emphasis has also often been placed on the role of external protection actors to provide support and assistance to affected communities when duty bearers are failing to protect. However, the independent and unique capacities of communities themselves in contributing to their own protection has often been less understood. Over the past number of years this is however starting to shift and protection actors have been placing more importance on the participation and leadership of communities in protection work amidst spiralling protection needs across complex crisis situations.

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The Approach 

In situations of violence, civilians and communities engage in self-protection actions to keep themselves, their families and their communities safer. This can involve engaging with armed actors, as both perpetrators of violence and potentially providers of protection, resulting in both positive and negative outcomes.  

The humanitarian coordination system – and specifically, the Global Protection Cluster – offers an opportunity to support greater visibility of, enhanced practice and deeper learning related to community-based/community-led protection programmes as enablers in community-led protection. The GPC is thus committed to expanding the traditionally top-down, state-centric mode of protection work, recognising and promoting how protection is an activity done by affected populations, not just for affected populations. There is also an opportunity for sharing emerging and good practices, learning, strengthening networks and providing a platform for strengthening synergies between protection and peace action. 

The Task Team on Community-Led Protection  

The Task Team on Community-Led Protection will focus on promoting a more coordinated approach to supporting affected populations to strengthen their own agency in conflict, to promote ownership over their own safety, and recognise their capacity to mitigate and prevent violence and the risks they may face. Initially, it will focus on the following objectives: 

  • Promote common understanding of community-led protection, its impacts and enabling factors in the the humanitarian sector 
  • Increase visibility of locally led protection action and community self-protection in the international humanitarian protection coordination, including more explicit recognition and inclusion of Community-Led Protection in relevant HNOs, HRPs and pooled fund processes
  • Define ways of working for a GPC working group that is led by local actors and the approaches, principles, capacities needed for this. 
  • Building a community of practice to exchange learning, best practices, and challenges for crisis contexts 
  • Preparing the establishment of a working group on Community-Led Protection to take over from the Task Team  

The Task Team is co-led by Oxfam and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and comprised of a range of GPC members, including NGOs, INGOs, networks, UN agencies, field Protection Cluster coordinators and members and AoR/other Task Team representatives, with advocacy expertise and interest. 

Download the Terms of Reference


Community-Led Protection Task Team

Melanie Kesmaecker-Wissing

Community-Led Protection Task Team Co-lead

Carolina Franceschini

Community-Led Protection Task Team Co-lead
Norwegian Refugee Council

Armel Rusake

Community-Led Protection Task Team Co-lead
Centre de Développement Intégral de l'Enfant Rural