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  The Protection Offered by UN Peace Operations


   School of Law

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  Dr Alexander Gilder, Prof R Freedman  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

United Nations (UN) peace operations are increasingly deployed to challenging situations of ongoing conflict with lofty expectations of being able to stabilise conflict zones, achieve national reconciliation, and rebuild state legitimacy. As missions have grown into large organisations which pursue a multitude of different targets, they have become a larger part of the lives of individuals and communities. By pursuing mandates which involve national reconciliation, the monitoring of human rights, and a multitude of peacebuilding activities, the missions have interacted with local people like never before.

At the same time, the Protection of Civilians (PoC) has become the key moral standard with which to judge the effectiveness and credibility of a UN mission. But PoC remains a contested concept, with uncertainty over what peacekeepers should or must do to prevent, deter or respond to threats against civilians. PoC has burgeoned into an agenda that authorises the use of force and encompasses wide-ranging peacebuilding activities aimed at deterring future violence. This has created lofty expectations from populations under protection that the UN will respond with force and not only provide a cure for violence, but improve the livelihoods of individuals and communities.

This project casts a light on the complex activities and relationships created by UN peacekeepers engaging in protection activities alongside the local population. You will investigate how the UN understands its obligations to protect to civilians, what methods are employed to empower local communities, to what extent local communities have ownership of their protection, the role played by the host state, and how the UN ensures the safeguarding of those under protection. You will generate new perspectives on the protection offered by UN peace operations and seek solutions to challenges faced by peacekeepers in the field.

By joining the School of Law, you will join a network of academics engaged in research with an international reach. The School is home to Global Law at Reading (GLAR), a major research hub for international law, EU law and human rights. The University also houses the UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP) that provides in-depth research and policy engagement to respond to the key challenges faced by the UN and global governance systems.

As supervisors, Dr Alexander Gilder and Professor Rosa Freedman offer a unique opportunity to benefit from truly interdisciplinary supervision where your project will consider law, human rights, peace and conflict studies, development, and much more. The University of Reading is the ideal environment for you to engage in cross-cutting, innovative research on the UN and its peace operations.

Applicants should meet the University’s entry requirements


Law (22) Politics & Government (30)

Where will I study?

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 About the Project