Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Civil-military relations’ Category

Civil-Military Interaction in Peacebuilding

In Civil-military relations on March 24, 2014 at 9:15 am

Lisa Schirch and David Cortright

In recent decades, international peacekeeping missions have become more robust and multi-dimensional, involving diverse civilian and military actors. In many cases, civilian peacebuilding and development actors are on the ground throughout the conflict, sharing operational environments with military forces that increasingly engage in civilian activities.

In these complex environments, civil society and military actors often have competing or conflicting goals and approaches — or they may miss opportunities for coordinated action. The blurring of roles and responsibilities between civilian and military actors in conflict and post-conflict settings is an important dimension of peacebuilding and development policy.


Managing the sensitive relationship among civil society actors and military forces is especially important for security system reform and for enhancing military accountability to civilian government. Problems arise when military units take on traditionally civilian development missions, such as the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, or when security forces view humanitarian missions as a way of gathering military intelligence. The challenges of civil-military interaction also surface during disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in the wake of armed conflict. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Civilians While Discrediting Terrorism

In Civil-military relations, Counterterrorism, Sanctions and Security, War on September 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Robert C. Johansen

International law and time-honored ethical traditions prohibit the targeting of noncombatants. Yet in most recent conflicts, more civilians have been killed than soldiers. What can we do to increase the influence of legal and ethical norms supporting civilian immunity in order to reduce civilian casualties and delegitimize terrorism, which routinely targets civilians? Here are five recommendations:

1. Bolster the traditional distinction between combatants and noncombatants.

Noncombatants usually are not engaged in any direct violence against which adversaries need to protect themselves. But terrorists may deny that the noncombatants they target are innocent. Government officials sometimes select military targets that result in civilian casualties (so called “collateral damage”). Despite these realities, most people in conflict zones, including children, mothers, and the elderly living at home, qualify for immunity according to international law. Read the rest of this entry »

From Civilian Immunity to Just Peace

In Civil-military relations, Counterterrorism, Sanctions and Security, War on September 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Iraqi Freedom

U.S. soldiers question civilians during the search for three missing soldiers in Yusifiyah, Iraq. Photo: U.S. Army (Flickr)

Maryann Cusimano Love

General David Petraeus was in the hot seat during his Senate confirmation hearings in Washington this summer, and it had nothing to do with the heat wave outside.

While senators were confirming Petraeus as commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, they criticized the tactical guidance issued last year ordering greater restraint of U.S. forces to protect against civilian deaths. Although it was the deadliest summer for U.S. troops in nine years of war, some senators and media commentators were complaining about limitations on air strikes. Read the rest of this entry »

More than Military Strikes Harm Civilians

In Civil-military relations, Counterterrorism, Sanctions and Security, War on September 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm

George A. Lopez

Much attention is paid to noncombatant casualties caused by military strikes and terrorist bombings, but few observers have focused on the impact of non-military actions, such as economic sanctions, on civilians.

The shift more than a decade ago from general trade sanctions to more finely targeted, so-called “smart sanctions” lessened the negative humanitarian impact of sanctions. Restrictions aimed at some types of economic activity or embargoes on products with dual use military potential were intended to apply pressure on foes and their sympathizers while avoiding harm to civilians.

But sanctions are seldom imposed in a vacuum. Even targeted measures can become collective punishment depending on the scope of economic deprivation that already exists in a society.  Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Clash: A Humanitarian Perspective on Civil-Military Interactions

In Civil-military relations on April 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Larissa Fast

It may seem logical that military and civilian actors should work in close collaboration, especially in places like Afghanistan and Sudan, where non-governmental organizations and other humanitarian actors work in close proximity to combat and peacekeeping operations. After all, both civilian and military actors desire peace and stability, so why not work together to reach that goal? Lack of collaboration, the reasoning goes, only results in duplication of efforts, poor and inefficient programming, and waste.

Yet in the midst of increasing calls for civil-military collaboration in rebuilding war-torn societies, humanitarian actors often voice dissenting opinions. “Defense, diplomacy, and development” efforts might share a common goal, but there is nothing to suggest that all of these functions should rest with a single actor. For humanitarian actors, associations among peacebuilders and the military are fraught with controversy and even danger.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sorting Out Dilemmas in a New Era of Civil-Military Relations

In Civil-military relations on April 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

A U.S. soldier carries an Iraqi girl with a chest tumor to a medical facility. Photo: U.S. Army (Flickr)

Lisa Schirch and David Cortright

In conflict zones around the world, military troops and civilian peacebuilders are interacting and sharing space in unprecedented ways. In Thailand, civil society groups worked with the military to write national security policy for the southern border provinces. In the Philippines, military leaders attended peacebuilding training sessions to learn to resolve local disputes without bloodshed. In Iraq, U.S.-led military forces provided transportation and logistical support to tribal and religious elders participating in reconciliation dialogues. Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging the Military in Building Peace in Mindanao

In Civil-military relations on April 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Myla Leguro

Civilian peacebuilders in the southern Philippines are strategically engaging the military as an important stakeholder in the peace process. An increasing number of former military officials are now directly involved in the Mindanao peace negotiations between the government and the Moro liberation groups.

Civil society organizations in Mindanao are reaching out to develop ‘peace champions’ within the military. A key military official who has come to embody this change is General Raymundo Ferrer — the first military graduate of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute.  After learning the principles of conflict transformation and peacebuilding, Ferrer authorized peacebuilding training programs for other military officers within his area of jurisdiction. To date about 36 officers have completed such training courses.
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