New Community-Informed Approaches to Humanitarian Protection and Restraint

The number of armed conflicts around the world, as well as the number of parties fighting in these conflicts, has risen significantly between 2001 and 2016. We therefore need to better understand the key factors at the community level that promote restraint and de-escalation in violent environments. Former studies show the value of understanding how a culture of restraint is socialised within a community. However, not much is known about the role that communities play in influencing the behaviour of armed groups.

Current approaches to humanitarian protection are rooted in formalised legalistic approaches. However, these approaches have limits in contexts where global humanitarian norms are contested or ignored on the ground. A new bottom-up approach to humanitarian protection is needed. This research seeks to identify successful examples of local protection measures and generate methods for communicating these to similar communities experiencing violence and to aid agencies.

This project will work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where human rights abuses are widespread, including extremely high levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In this context, aid agencies, local religious institutions and civil society groups struggle to protect civilians. This research, therefore, aims to provide new understandings and tools to both communities and aid providers to reinforce protective measures. By identifying where such local measures have worked, and under what circumstances, the research will provide an evidence base for policy and practice.

The project is a consortium of: the Institute of Development Studies; two partner organisations in DRC – the Centre d’etude et de promotion en interventions socio-economiques (CEPRISE) and Institut National des Arts (INA); and Action Aid.

If you would like more information on this project, please follow the project’s blog site RD Congo Résiliences et Résistances at resiliencecongo.org.

Project details

start date
1 April 2020
end date
31 March 2022


About this project

Programmes and centres
Humanitarian Learning Centre


Image of Camille Maubert
Camille Maubert

Research Officer

Image of Gauthier Marchais
Gauthier Marchais

Research Fellow

Image of Jeremy Allouche
Jeremy Allouche

Professorial Fellow

Image of Lewis Sida
Lewis Sida

Co-Director of the Humanitarian Learning Centre

Image of Ruby Utting
Ruby Utting

Senior Project Support Officer

Image of Sohela Nazneen
Sohela Nazneen

Research Fellow

Image of Tina Nelis
Tina Nelis

Knowledge Officer

Recent work


How to Co-produce Transdisciplinary and Plural Knowledge to Solve Complex Humanitarian Problems? An Illustration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The humanitarian and protracted crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the most enduring and complex of the Great Lakes region, intertwining issues of governance, health and food security emergencies, insurgencies, natural resources issues and land conflicts. Humanitarians...

31 August 2021