Realising the “Imagined armies of expert civilians” – A summary of national civilian capacity arrangements for conflict management


The predominance and complexity of intrastate conflict creates huge demands for civilian capacity support to meet the urgent needs of communities in the immediate aftermath of conflict. For this reason, peace and stabilisation missions have become increasingly civilianised over the past decade. In response, there has been considerable activity over the past decade to develop rapidly deployable civilian capacity arrangements in support of missions deployed to conflict and post-conflict countries. Currently, these arrangements are predominantly national and found among a small number of western countries. Significant challenges exist, relating to the multiplicity of arrangements and the dearth of multilateral linkages, the delicate balance between providing needed international capacity and building host nation capacity, the inherent difficulties associated with multi-agency structures, and the interaction with international civilian capacities already on the ground. The field of rapidly deployable civilian capacity is rapidly evolving. New arrangements are currently being developed and considered, including in the global South, initiatives are underway to improve existing arrangements, and proposals are being put forward for new arrangements. This paper was prepared as a background paper for the Civil-Military Interaction Seminar (6–9 December 2010, Sydney, Australia) organised by the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence on Advancing Civil-Military Effectiveness in Conflicts and Disasters: From Theory to Practice.

Sarah Shteir

Sarah Shteir is a Research Project Officer with the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence. Prior to joining the Centre she completed her Master’s degree in International Social Development at the University of New South Wales, which included a research project ‘Keeping the Peace Within – Cultural Diversity among United Nations Peacekeepers: Challenges, Efforts, and Possibilities’. From 2005–2007 she worked as a Gender Affairs Officer and later an Assistant Best Practices Officer in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and from 2002–2005 as a Project Associate for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Peace Women Project in New York, with particular responsibility for gender and peacekeeping issues.


View this publication on