Unarmed Civilian Protection

unitar_vertical_logo_white-png smallMerrimack College NVP

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
The unmet need for direct physical protection of civilians against imminent violence has never been greater than it is today. Civilians suffer a wide variety of abuses and human rights violations, including killings, torture, sexual abuse, and forced displacement. The peace operations of the United Nations have assisted states recovering from war in protecting civilians. However, there are many situations of war and violent conflict where UN peace operations cannot be deployed and where government actors are not able or willing to provide protection to (all) civilians. Over the past decade, the international community has begun to recognize that civil society organizations can play a long-standing and often critical role in seeking to address large unmet protection needs. A small number of these organizations focus specifically on providing direct physical protection to civilians and on reducing violence, by applying the approach of Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP).

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.

The allocation of time in a typical module is detailed in the chart below.



Hours per Module


Discussion Forum (Topic related, technical support…)
Journal reflection/Online text writing
Quiz (self-assessment, graded assessment…)
Submission of activity/task/file/resources in case it requires commenting on-line
Peer review comments
Case Studies
Multimedia (watching videos, ppt presentations…)
Module Evaluation Questionnaire



Reading Course guides & documentation
(Syllabus, calendar, user guide, assessment guide, learner’s guide)
Reading additional documentation in PDF format (articles, case studies, transcripts)
Performing task e.g. essay, research, scenario-based activity
Preparing & Studying for Assessments



Total per Module


Post Course

Journal reflection/On-line text writing
Final Evaluation Questionnaire



6 modules x 30 hours


Post Course Assessments


Total Course Hours




Learning Objectives


Module One

Introduction to unarmed civilian protection (UCP)

  • Define UCP and relevant terms linked to it
  • Place UCP in the traditions and practices of nonviolence and peacekeeping
  • Describe the actors within UCP

Unarmed Civilian Protection skills: To allow you to reflect on the purpose of protection, keeping peace, nonviolence, and the people UCP works with. [brief essays*History, context and use of UCP skills: to allow you to reflect on the history and potential use of UCP. [quiz*, discussion forum]

Module Two

UCP: Objectives, principles and sources of guidance

  • Describe the key objectives of UCP
  • Describe the key principles of UCP
  • List the sources of guidance for UCP and describe their relevance to UCP

UCP principles and foundations skills: To allow you to use the principles and foundations in planning responses to brief case studies and begin to work in groups. [brief essays* and working groups/discussion forumEncouragement and deterrence, and being nonpartisan skills: To allow you to reflect on the differences between encouragement and deterrence, and to reflect on the advantages and challenges to being nonpartisan. [quiz*]

Module Three

UCP: Key methods

  • Explain basic methods of UCP
  • Apply these methods in practical exercises

UCP methods and skills applied skills: To deepen your understanding of UCP methods and skills by applying them to specific scenarios. [case study*,quiz*, discussion forum, role play]

Module Four

UCP in practice (1): Preparation and entrance into the community

  • Describe the core competencies of a UCP practitioner
  • Explain underlying skills of UCP
  • Describe how conflict is analyzed within UCP
  • Describe how UCP is applied in different types and stages of conflict
  • Describe how violent conflict impacts various vulnerable populations and their particular protection needs and how UCP addresses these

UCP: Preparation for entering a community: understand UCP application of needs and conflict analysis and how to use UCP in different contexts and with different populations. To deepen your understanding of how to undertake UCP conflict analysis, , and the characteristics of an unarmed peacekeeper. [quiz*, group activityProtection of vulnerable groupsskills: to understand how to use UCP methods to protect vulnerable groups by analyzing a scenario for vulnerabilities and planning responses. [brief paper* and discussion forum]

Module Five

UCP in practice (2): Living in and exiting the community

  • Describe how the context is analyzed within UCP
  • Describe the basics of UCP security management
  • Describe an exit strategy
  • Describe how to apply basic UCP strategies to specific examples of varying conflicts and populations types
  • Describe key dilemmas of UCP

Using UCP in the field skills/learning objective: To develop a comprehensive understanding of the practicalities of UCP operations in the field, and how to exit from an intervention. [scenario analysis*, working group, discussion forum]

*= graded activities

The five modules outlined above will be offered on-line through UNITAR. In addition to these 5 modules, students enrolled in the course for four college credits from Merrimack College, must complete Module 0 before Module 1 begins.

Module Zero

Introduction to the United Nations

  • Describe the history and mission of the UN
  • Describe the governance structure of the UN
  • Describe the critiques of the UN

History and Mission of UN: To develop an understanding of how and why the UN was formed and how the UN works to reduce conflict in the world. [quiz*Governance and Critiques: To develop an understanding of how the UN works today through its various agencies and to evaluate the UN’s effectiveness by reflecting on critiques (positive and negative) of the UN. [quiz*, brief essay]

This online course will be conducted in English. Students who wish to enroll for this online course must be proficient in English (writing and speaking), as well as basic computer literacy.

The four-credit course is comprised of six modules (0-5). Learn more about the curriculum.  Tuition is $355 per credit for a total cost of $1,420.00.This course may also be taken as a non-credit course with a certificate of completion for $715. 

Register for this UCP course here.

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.

 Enrollment DeadlineStart Date
Session OneMarch 15March 20
Session TwoMay 10May 14
Session ThreeSept 13Sept 18

Refund Policy

Withdrawal Refund policy for UNITAR Course - March 20
March 23rd by 4:30pmFull refund
March 31st by 4:30pm50% refund
After March 31stNo refund
Withdrawal Refund policy for UNITAR Course - May 22
May 17th by 4:30pmFull refund
May 25th by 4:30pm50% refund
After May 25thNo refund
Withdrawal Refund policy for UNITAR Course - September 18
Sept. 21 by 4:30pmFull refund
Sept. 28 by 4:30pm50% refund
After Sept. 28No refund
Should you need any additional information or assistance with registration, please contact us at:
United Nations Institute for Training and Research
Peacekeeping Training Programme
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
E-mail: ptp@unitar.org
The Merrimack College Office of Professional Studies at professionalstudies@merrimack.edu.