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Peacekeepers as Soldiers and Humanitarians:

The Impact of Contradictory Roles and Responsibilities on The Protection Mandate of Peacekeepers

The protection of civilians in areas of violent conflicts and wars is among the main tasks of military peacekeeping. Peacekeepers are, however, often required to straddle military, diplomatic and humanitarian roles: They fight violent actors who are often not easily distinguishable from civilians, patrol roads and convoy humanitarian deliveries, while they are simultaneously requested to develop relations with communities affected by violence, to mediate conflicts and often also to provide humanitarian goods.

The research project explores how military peacekeepers are experiencing their protection mandate and how they navigate their complex responsibilities. The project then compares and contrasts these experiences with those of civilians and humanitarian actors who are on the receiver side of peacekeeper’s protection mandate. We use biographic and narrative interviews to capture experiences, but also work with ‘mapping voice’ to look into spatial arrangements of protection practices. This will provide an in-depth and differentiated account of protection mandate and practices of peacekeepers taking account of organisational and operational differences of AU and UN missions.

The findings of the research will be shared in round tables with peacekeepers, humanitarian actors and civilians. Beyond receiving feed-back, the round tables aim at stimulating dialogue between the three actor groups. The experiences of the providers and recipients of protection will also feed into a peacekeeping training module which will be developed in cooperation with the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) in Nairobi



  • Principle Investigator: Jutta Bakonyi (Durham University)
  • Co-Investigators/Staff: Anne Flasspoeler and Janosch Kullenberg (Durham University).
  • Geoffrey Lugano (Kenyatta University)


  • South West Livestock Professional Association (Somalia)
  • Cercle National de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse (DRC)