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Gender-Sensitive Protection and the Responsibility to Prevent: Lessons from Chad

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Helping states to fulfil their duty to protect their citizens and those seeking refuge within the sovereign terrain of the given state belongs to the second pillar of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The R2P concept, however, relates as much to preventing mass atrocities as to halt already on-going ones. This article emphasises the gender dimensions of prevention of and protection against violence and other threats, in order to stress the importance of implementing and mainstreaming gender into R2P. The case study of interest here is the UN support mission to Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) that provided a fairly encouraging, albeit short-lived, example of gender-responsive prevention and protection measures at the community level for refugees and IDPs in eastern Chad. Chad exemplifies a case with low-intensity conflicts and responses made at the local level, like the MINURCAT-supported community conflict resolution initiative, proved constructive in preventing violent responses. Here, deliberate integration of female police officers was a first step towards facilitating contact with women not allowed to talk to male strangers. Further, ensuring gender training for the entire police unit as an integrated part of their protection responsibility helped in avoiding male-as-norm approaches. The forced withdrawal of the UN was questioned as premature. However, the security situation has remained fairly stable, and the government seems able to provide at least some of the more hard-end forms of protection measures, although rule of law and other forms of protection for vulnerable groups remain elusive in eastern Chad.

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