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Civil Affairs Handbook

This Handbook is intended as practical guidance for Civil Affairs Officers on the ground, as well as an orientation for people preparing for civil affairs work. It can be downloaded in full, or you can use the links below to open individual chapters.

This is the first edition of the Civil Affairs Handbook, which collects together existing experience and understanding about Civil Affairs work. It is intended as a platform on which to build further guidance and will be regularly updated based on input from all sources.


The Handbook is divided into three parts and includes key concepts, current practice, lessons learned and tips. Part one aims to familiarize users with the context of civil affairs work and UN Peacekeeping, including key trends, reforms and cross-cutting themes. Part two discusses the guiding principles, skills and attitudes required for civil affairs work, and provides tips and tools on analysis, planning and managing civil affairs components in field missions. Part three focuses on the implementation of the three core civil affairs roles: cross-mission liaison, monitoring and facilitation at the local level; confidence-building, conflict management and reconciliation; and support to the restoration and extension of state authority. It also provides tips and good practices on implementing Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).

Part One: Understanding the context for civil affairs work

  • Chapter 1 provides an introduction to UN Peacekeeping, including guiding principles such as consent, impartiality and the non-use of force. This is followed by a brief history of UN Peacekeeping, a description of what happens at UN headquarters in New York and a discussion of recent key trends and reforms in the world of peacekeeping.

  • Chapter 2 provides an overview of the role of civil affairs in UN Peacekeeping. It introduces the three core civil affairs roles and discusses how the work of this component evolves over the life cycle of a mission. The chapter includes information and statistics on current civil affairs deployments and discusses the future direction of this 'core' component of peacekeeping.

  • Chapter 3 describes key structures and actors within UN Peacekeeping missions, discusses integrated missions, the UN Country Team and non-UN partners, and looks at coordination and cooperation between these stakeholders.

  • Chapter 4 introduces peacebuilding and the protection of civilians, which are two important cross-cutting themes in civil affairs work. The chapter considers the role of Civil Affairs Officers as local peacebuilders and discusses the evolving engagement of UN Peacekeeping in efforts to protect civilians.
  • Part Two: Preparing for and overseeing civil affairs work

  • Chapter 5 considers how the principles of consent and impartiality, introduced in chapter one, both guide and can be reinforced by the work of civil affairs at the local level. It discusses gender and diversity issues, local ownership, 'Do No Harm' and conflict-sensitive approaches in civil affairs work. This chapter also considers some of the challenges of putting these principles into operation in complex post-conflict contexts.

  • Chapter 6 looks at the skills, attitudes and experience required to be a Civil Affairs Officer and the conditions of the work. The chapter aims to provide introductory guidance to help Civil Affairs Officers prepare for work in the field, cope with stress and manage expectations. The final section of this chapter discusses the importance of conduct and attitude for peacekeepers, including Civil Affairs Officers – both professionally and privately.

  • Chapter 7 provides guidance for civil affairs managers as well as for team leaders and addresses some of the key challenges of undertaking this role in complex peacekeeping environments. The chapter introduces key areas of management including: communicating vision and managing information, and staff management

  • Chapter 8 discusses the importance of analysis and planning for every aspect of civil affairs work, and gives an overview of the tools and processes relevant for analysis and planning in UN field missions. It provides basic models for conducting both analysis and planning exercises that can be adapted to the needs of Civil Affairs Officers and components.
  • Part Three: Implementing the civil affairs roles

  • Chapter 9 outlines the activities conducted by civil affairs components as part of the first core role: cross-mission representation, monitoring and facilitation at the local level. This includes liaison and representation on behalf of the mission, coordination and facilitation activities, information-gathering, as well as monitoring, analysis (including conflict analysis) and reporting of information. The chapter provides tips, examples and good practices in the implementation of this core role.

  • Chapter 10 considers the key concepts, activities and challenges in implementing the second core civil affairs role: confidence-building, conflict management and reconciliation. The chapter outlines the role of civil affairs in facilitating dialogue, addressing conflict drivers, supporting the development of political space, local-level conflict management and working with civil society. It includes tips, examples and good practices in the implementation of this core role.

  • Chapter 11 addresses the key concepts, activities and challenges in relation to civil affairs support to the restoration and extension of state authority. The chapter introduces the different models of government, discusses the approach taken by civil affairs in supporting state institutions, outlines activities undertaken as part of this role and provides tips, examples and good practices.

  • Chapter 12 provides practical guidance for Civil Affairs Officers and other mission components who work on Quick Impact Projects (QIPs). The chapter provides tips, tools and examples on each aspect of the project-cycle based on experience from the field.
  • Comments and suggestions about content for future editions are welcome

    dpko-civilaffairsnetwork@un.org or use the form below

    Related links


    Civil Affairs Handbook