A protection approach is about seeking to assure the safety of civilians from acute harm. While certain humanitarian agencies (for example, ICRC, UNHCR) have a specific protection mandate, it is now recognised that in an emergency, where there are protection gaps, it is the responsibility of all humanitarian actors to protect the communities with whom they work. CARE understands ‘protection’ to mean:
‘All activities aimed at ensuring full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the relevant bodies of law, i.e. human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.' (Annex 31.1 Protection: An ALNAP guide for humanitarian agencies, p. 33).
This means CARE’s programmes and staff must work to respect and uphold the lives and dignity of people by incorporating protection principles into relief programming and taking protective actions wherever possible. A protection approach can also work through empowerment: working directly with people to support, identify and develop ways in which they can protect themselves and realise their rights to safety, assistance and life with dignity.
Protection draws on a rights-based approach. That means it is founded on international legal instruments. This does not mean you need to be a lawyer to do protection work, but a basic understanding of some of the relevant legal instruments will help in designing programmes and projects for an emergency response.
International Humanitarian Law-Geneva Conventions (l, ll, lll and lV) and their Additional Protocols
Human Rights Law-for example, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Refugee Law-Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
See also Annex 31.2 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa, 1994 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees; Annex 9.6.3 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; and Annex 31.4 International Humanitarian Law Treaties (Geneva Conventions I, II, III and IV).
When there is an emergency, the normal mechanisms to protect the rights and dignity of people can be broken down. This can be the case in both armed conflicts and natural disasters. In an emergency context, the protection needs of people may become more apparent due to the destruction of normal protective mechanisms such as the breaking up of family units. People affected by the emergency might face threats to their personal safety and security-including actions such as threats to their lives, property and livelihoods-through killing and rapes, forced displacement, and the destruction of homes, livestock and crops.
Protection approaches must always be contextualised. In some countries where CARE works, it is difficult or even illegal to talk about ‘human rights’, in which case an alternative protection approach might be more appropriate.
‘Following consultation with country offices and members from 2008 to 2010 a paper was developed to guild CARE country offices with how to approach humanitarian protection. This has been accompanied by the development of a series of training modules which are designed to be pieced together in different configuration to tailor training course to suit different country context.’
Annex 9.6.1a CARE Interational Approach to Protection_Guidelines May 2010 : A CARE International Approach to Humanitarian Protection: Guidelines for country offices and members to strengthen CARE’s protection work.
Annex 9.6.1b CARE Int Protection Training Pack 2010 : CARE International Training Manual: Humanitarian Protection and Human Rights Monitoring