“Preventive, Palliative, or Punitive? Safe Spaces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia, and Sri Lanka”

Some safe havens and protected areas are safer than others for internally displaced persons situated in war zones. The research presented compares three such areas: the ‘safe cities’ of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a UN-sanctioned ‘preventive zone’ in Southern Somalia, and an ‘open relief centre’ in Northern Sri Lanka. Each of these safe spaces has distinct political antecedents, peacekeeping components, and histories prior to war that have shaped the success of such areas in protecting people during conflict. In comparing the safety and well-being of displaced civilians in the three countries, the importance of consent by warring parties to the international designation of safe spaoe emerges as critical. The authorization of a chosen safe area, by the UN Security Council or by warring factions, plays an important role in relation to its efficacy.The research presented suggests that zones of peace and protected areas cannot solely be enforced by international peacekeepers, but must be negotiated at a political level. en

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