Research Areas

1. Understanding vulnerability and agency

Vulnerability to physical harm is complex, context-dependent, and often situational, suggesting that common universal understandings not only obfuscate nuance in protection needs, but also neglect people’s agency. We therefore aim to better understand how different kinds of vulnerabilities interact in situations that require protection, how vulnerabilities may differ depending on the context and the identity and positionality of the people concerned, and which different protection strategies these complex vulnerabilities and agencies require.

2. Building local protection infrastructures

Unarmed civilian protection has been shown to be most sustainable, where nonviolent protection initiatives have built on existing practice or engaged in establishing more long-term local ‘protection infrastructures’, for example by enhancing and expanding local protection capacity through trainings and giving other types of material and knowledge support to local volunteers. We therefore explore how outside protection strategies, national protection initiatives and self-protection mechanisms in communities can work together for best protection results and without undermining each other.

3. Developing civilian protection capabilities

The field of practice of organisations using active nonviolent protection strategies has grown over the last decades, and UCP has been successfully used in a wide range of countries, suggesting its versatility to adapt to very different contexts and types of political violence. Nonetheless, the scope and reach of unarmed civilian protection has remained limited. We therefore ask how unarmed local protection can be scaled up or broadened out in size and/or scope, or include new actors and collaborations, with a view to protect more people from violence and displacement and develop stronger nonviolent protection capacity.