Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP) is a methodology and set of practices for the direct physical protection of civilians by trained, unarmed civilians before, during, and after violent conflict. Through direct protection, UCP supports local civilians as they work to protect themselves and their communities and transform violent conflict.
UCP protects civilians from violence through use of a range of methods, including:
- Protective accompaniment and protective presence
- Community-led safety and security initiatives such as early-warning early-response mechanisms
- Civilians protecting one another through Women and Youth Protection Teams
- Conflict de-escalation techniques
- Civilian ceasefire and peace agreement monitoring
- The establishment of weapons-free zones–and much more.
In the longer term, UCP uses civilian-led protection strategies to support and strengthen local peace infrastructures. UCP is a protection practice led by civilians, for civilians that prioritizes leadership and decision-making by communities themselves. It is practiced by communities, NGOs, and other civil society organisations.
UCP cannot be practiced by entities directly associated with, or accompanied by, military personnel (including armed peacekeepers), police, or other armed actors. The practice is grounded in international legal commitments to civilian immunity in war and protections afforded by international conventions.
Frequently Asked Questions
UCP is practiced in a range of diverse contexts around the world, both through locally-led civilian initiatives & through formally constituted UCP organizations. There are now more than 70 known groups that practice UCP. However, this does not account for the vast range of community-level UCP initiatives, of which there are countless examples. For example, in South Sudan alone, there were 67 Women’s Protection Teams (WPTs) active in 2021, with over 2500 women & girls have been trained in the practice of UCP over the last decade.
UCP can & is used to respond to a range of different forms of violence. From the civil war in South Sudan to gun violence & racist harassment in the United States to the low-intensity conflict in Southern Thailand, UCP has a crucial role to play in responding to violent conflict.
Different organizations & communities emphasize different strategies, but a growing body of academic research & program evaluations has found that at its core, UCP is about creating & leveraging relationships with a range of parties to a conflict in order to protect people & reduce violence.
If you are looking for specific academic resources all in one place, the UCP Research Database is a user-friendly way of finding the latest research on unarmed civilian protection, community self-protection & related topics. It contains information on academic research publications, working papers & NGO documents, which you can easily search using keywords or specific regions & countries.
For a wide collection of resources (examples, guides, research, reports, etc.) on Unarmed Civilian Protection, please visit our Resource Library.
To start conversations about & provide insight on topics related to Unarmed Civilian Protection, please explore &; contribute to our Discussions.
For a list of organizations & groups working in Unarmed Civilian Protection, please see our Collaboration Map.