EUFOR Tchad-RCA and the Protection of Civilians

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Ten years after civilian protection was first introduced on the agenda of the Security Council, this question has gained renewed interest at the United Nations (UN). However, at tactical level, numerous humanitarian organizations see the integration of protection as leading toward a form of military-humanitarian coordination that will constitute a threat to their political independence, and thence, to the modicum of security provided by their stance of impartiality. Eufor Chad-CAR, a military operation deployed by the European Union from March 2008 to March 2009 in Eastern Chad and Northeastern Central African Republic, was mandated with the tasks of contributing both directly and indirectly to the protection of civilians: Directly, through its coercive capacity placed at the service of local inhabitants and humanitarian workers under threat; Indirectly, by providing security to a UN operation, Minurcat, composed of police trainers and civilian staff also involved in improving security. This article aims at examining how Eufor went from being challenged in the field by humanitarian workers to becoming the respected partner of numerous non-governmental organizations. Eufor, which has no clearly identified enemies and which lacks a political process which could have anchored its long-term impact, benefited paradoxically from this unusual political configuration. Although it could not clearly reverse the streams of violence in Eastern Chad, it contributed to establishing a flexible framework of dialogue with humanitarian organizations. This represented a first step toward a long-term effort aimed at strengthening the protection of civilians in that destabilized region.