The UN and the challenges of protecting civilians in South Sudan

By David Bosco

For months now, United Nations peacekeepers in South Sudan have been sheltering tens of thousands of displaced persons on its bases. As lawyer and UN veteran Ralph Mamiya explains in this piece, it’s an almost unprecedented situation for peacekeepers:

When conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) opened its doors to tens of thousands of displaced persons fleeing ethnic and political violence, a situation unprecedented in terms of its scale: in more than a decade of protection mandates, peacekeepers have never provided protection to so many civilians in so direct a manner. Today, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) under UN protection has passed the 100,000 mark. Unlike traditional settings for refugees or IDPs, these displaced people are living under the watch of armed peacekeepers.

Mamiya discusses several of the  legal and policy dilemmas facing the peacekeepers, including how to handle crimes committed by displaced persons while under UN protection and how to manage relations with the government of South Sudan.

About David Bosco

Assistant Professor at American University's School of International Service. Contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine. Author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics and Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World
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