Learning to protect? Identifying elicitive approaches in Protection of Civilians training for UN peacekeepers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How are military peacekeepers trained to undertake the Protection of Civilians (PoC)? This article seeks to understand this important question, paying particular attention to how ‘contact skills’ are integrated into the UN’s flagship training progammes. These skills – defined as awareness of one’s role in conflict, communication, negotiation, and facilitation – have been identified as crucial to UN PoC strategy. Significantly, they require ‘elicitive’ forms of training which rely on learners taking the lead in the learning process as opposed to being instructed as to what is right and wrong.

The article highlights the emergence of these learner-centred programmes, and the theory and guidance which backs them up. It then discusses the challenges of implementing what are relatively intensive programmes in a training system which has very little standardisation and considerable variation. By doing so it makes a strong contribution to studies of training in peacekeeping as well as to broader discussion as to how peacekeepers prepare for deployment to complex, unpredictable environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages27
JournalCivil Wars
Early online date1 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


I would like to thank Sukanya Podder and Walt Kilroy for hosting the original workshop which initiated this article, and the Research Unit at the Folke Bernadotte Academy for organising a further workshop where I was able to further develop it. Thanks also to Walter Dorn for his assistance in developing the article. The article benefited in its latter stages from workshops funded by the ESRC/IRC project ‘Towards hybridity in the Protection of Civilians’ (ES/V008811/1). Many thanks to the journal editorial team for their hard work, and the peer reviewers for their valuable comments.


  • United Nations (UN)
  • peacebuilding
  • Military
  • Protection of Civilians
  • Elicitive
  • Conflict resolution


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