Online course: Strengthening civilian capacities to protect civilians

This online course is taught by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and is offered for college credit through Merrimack College. Session 1 starts May 22.

Unarmed civilian protection flyer

What is unarmed civilian protection?

Unarmed civilian protection (UCP) is the practice of civilians protecting civilians in situations of violent conflict, imminent violence, and post-crisis situations. It involves expatriate civilians protecting national civilians, national civilians protecting each other, and even national civilians protecting expatriate civilians. The practice of UCP is nonviolent and nonpartisan. Protection is provided on invitation from local actors. It supports local actors as they work to address the roots and consequences of violent conflict. This practice is grounded in international law, in the principle of civilian immunity in war, and in the protection afforded by international conventions. This course aims to make a contribution to the common objectives of protecting civilians and keeping peace. More specifically, this course provides an introduction to the foundations of UCP, its principles, methods and required skills, as well as offers an overview of UCP in practice.

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Recall the key principles and sources of guidance of UCP
  • Illustrate UCP methods and required skills
  • Summarize key steps to go through in preparation for entering a community
  • Outline key actions to undertake while living in and exiting a community

Who should take this course? The course is intended for leadership and staff of aid organizations working in conflict situations who are interested in strengthening their capacities to protect the people they serve, as well as their own staff. The course is also aimed at individuals and groups of people who are interested to take part in UCP activities in the field. The course also addresses a broader audience of civilian, military and police personnel working in conflict and post-conflict environments (as part of UN or non-UN operations) interested in gaining an appreciation of UCP principles, sources of guidance, methods and required skills.

UCP employs four main methods: Proactive engagement, monitoring, relationship building, and capacity development. These methods are used to prevent violence and reduce the impact of violence; to increase the safety and security of civilians threatened by violence; and to strengthen local peace infrastructures.

Course hours and tuition: The four-credit course is comprised of six modules (0-5). Learn more about the curriculum. Tuition is US$335 per credit for a total cost of US$1,340.00.

Dates and deadlines


Course will only run if there is a minimum of 25 students enrolled. If the minimum is not met, that section will be cancelled and students will have the opportunity to move their enrollment to the next course offering in the schedule.

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