Community Engagement with Armed Actors: Strengthening Protection, Prevention and Response

The number of protracted, non-international armed conflicts, as well as the number and range of actors participating in them have significantly increased in the last twenty years. This has presented challenges for protection actors seeking to prevent and respond to protection risks. The interaction between civilian communities and armed actors is complex, ambiguous, and changes through time. Community engagement with armed groups is often less visible and can take place significantly before any recognised mediation or negotiation processes. The protection community have a gap in understanding the complexities of community engagement with armed actors towards self-protection – and the opportunities, and risks, of supporting such efforts. Strengthening this understanding, and emerging good practice between peace and protection actors, gives opportunities for protection actors to better understand how to engage, or step back, towards strengthened efforts to prevent protection risks and therefore strengthen protection outcomes.

This event will be co-convened between the HPG / ODI and the Centre for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). It will discuss emerging findings from HPG/ODI’s new two year (Apr 2022 – Mar 2024) research project on community engagement with armed actors: strengthening protection, prevention and response. The research has a specific focus on the implications for protection and peace actors. CIVIC, as an operational and policy actor supporting community protection efforts, including by engaging in dialogue with armed actors and facilitating community / armed actor engagement with the objective of strengthening protection outcomes, will bring key learning from its operations. The event will convene panelists across operational, advocacy and policy expertise, including some who will be contributing to a special edition in the Humanitarian Exchange in November 2022 which will specifically focus on this theme.