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Civil affairs

We work to strengthen social and civic conditions for countrywide peace.

Civil Affairs is one of the largest civilian components in UN Peacekeeping. As of January 2015, there are about 950 Civil Affairs Officers in 12 UN Field Missions worldwide.

Civil Affairs Officers meet with IDP women’s camp in Darfur

UN Photo/Olivier Chassot

Civil Affairs Officers meet with IDP women’s camp in Darfur

Usually deployed at the local level in field offices around the host country, Civil Affairs components facilitate the implementation of peacekeeping mandates sub-nationally and work to strengthen social and civic conditions necessary for peace. Civil Affairs Officers are often the primary interface between the mission and local interlocutors.

A Civil Affairs policy directive from the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support sets out three core roles that are performed by these components, depending on the mandate of the mission and the evolving situation on the ground.

Civil Affairs Officers meet with IDP women's camp in Darfur

Role one: Cross-mission representation, monitoring and facilitation at the local level

This tends to be the primary role of Civil Affairs Officers, performed in most missions and usually throughout its whole life cycle. Civil Affairs Officers monitor the progress of the peace process and mandate implementation at the local level; they provide mission leadership with information about the local environment, carry out conflict analysis and early warning about local conflict, including in relation to efforts to protect civilians. Through this role, civil affairs staff can help ensure regional and local considerations are integrated into national negotiations or priority-setting processes.

Role two: Confidence-building, conflict management and support to reconciliation

Conflict management, confidence-building and supporting the development of political space are integral to UN Peacekeeping and central to civil affairs work.  Through this role, Civil Affairs actively support the development of social and civic conditions conducive to sustainable peace and popular engagement and confidence in the peace process. Civil Affairs usually undertake these activities in partnership with other mission components as well as UN agencies, local and international partners.

Role three: Support to the restoration and extension of state authority

Over the last few years, the need to stabilize weak states emerged more and more strongly as a critical requirement to keeping and building peace. This has therefore become an area of work in which Civil Affairs Officers have been increasingly engaged through the support to state institution and to good governance practices at the sub-national level.

Quick Impact Projects

In addition to the three core roles described above, Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programmes are often managed by Civil Affairs components. The primary objective of QIPs in UN Peacekeeping is to build confidence in the mission, its mandate and the peace process

Civil Affairs Handbook

The DPKO/DFS Civil Affairs Handbook  provides detailed guidance for Civil Affairs Officers on how to perform their tasks, and can be a useful orientation for anyone interested in finding out more about Civil Affairs work in UN peacekeeping.