Civilians in Conflict: ‘A Ukraine Case Study’ (13 JUN 2024)

Two years after Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, the conflict continues to cause extreme civilian harm and military casualties, affecting the lives of millions. From the annexation of Crimea to the sustained confrontations in the Donbas region, this protracted conflict has shed light on the profound humanitarian crises and geopolitical complexities inherent in modern warfare. Most importantly, it highlights the urgent need for effective intervention strategies to mitigate harm and safeguard vulnerable individuals. Reflecting on the past and analysing the current realities is crucial in paving the way for peace, reconciliation, and a more cohesive society.

In this online seminar, we aimed to nurture and fuel the discussion about the complex humanitarian aspects related to Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in conflict zones, specifically focusing on the Ukraine crisis. The effective coordination of humanitarian and military efforts plays an essential role in protecting the most vulnerable, facilitating humanitarian efforts, promoting stability, and aiding in peacebuilding.

Through expert presentations and a moderated Q&A session, we aimed to shed light on the challenges faced by civilians, explore protection strategies to support them, and identify best practices for promoting their well-being and safety in volatile environments. Valuable lessons were drawn from the Ukrainian CIMIC experience, highlighting unique strategies and challenges encountered in this context.

Alexander Griff

Alexander Grif is the Country Director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) in Ukraine, a non-governmental organisation that works to protect civilians caught in conflict. He leads a team of experts in providing policy advice and technical assistance to the Ukrainian government on civilian harm mitigation. He and his team also engage with civil society and international partners to advocate for the rights and needs of conflict-affected communities. He has over 10 years of humanitarian experience, with a focus on the protection of civilians, visiting people deprived of liberty, humanitarian diplomacy and negotiations. He has previously worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) including in Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. With a Master of Arts in International Relations and Affairs from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor's degree in Arabic Language and Literature from the University of Vienna, he speaks six languages.

Serhiy Doma

Mr. Serhiy Doma is the CIVIC Senior Military Advisor in Ukraine. He joined CIVIC in January 2017. In 2017-2022, he contributed to launching numerous initiatives at the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including the introduction of civilian harm tracking policies and practices as well as training the AFU officers on the incorporation of protection of civilians in armed conflicts into combat operations planning. He served as an officer in the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2014-2015 and in 2022-23 at various positions at the high-level and field commands in the course of large-scale invasion to Ukraine and was honourably discharged in July 2023 in the rank of a major. Since July 2023 he returned to his work as a Senior Military Advisor at CIVIC. His interests include societal resilience, civil-military cooperation, civilian harm tracking and mitigation, as well as analysis of NATO standards and practices vis-a-vis his first-hand experience as a combat officer and a veteran of the Ukraine-Russia war.

Sergio Da Silva

Sergio Da Silva is a United Nations staff member working for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as part of the Civil-Military Coordination Services in Geneva, Switzerland. He is responsible for providing operational advice and support to OCHA operations in conflict situations and sudden-onset disasters. Mr. Da Silva is also responsible for liaising with Member States and military organisations to promote and create an understanding of the principles and concepts of humanitarian Civil-military coordination. Sergio graduated in Applied Physics from Glasgow Caledonian University in 1998 and holds a Master of Science in Information Technology Systems from the University of Glasgow. He joined the United Nations and OCHA in 2010 as a civil-military coordination officer for the earthquake response in Haiti, then was assigned to Chad in 2011. Since his appointment at OCHA Headquarter in Geneva in 2012, Sergio conducted several support missions including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Jordan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad. He deployed as an UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team leader responding to volcanoes eruption in Cape Verde, hurricanes in the Caribbean and more recently the Türkiye earthquake. Sergio is currently the CMCS operational focal point for West and Central Africa, Mozambique and Ukraine.

Dr. Agata Mazurkiewicz

Agata Mazurkiewicz holds a PhD in Political Science (Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland) and is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Political Science and International Relations at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Her research interests include civil-military cooperation and interactions, resilience and NATO affairs. She was a principal investigator and researcher in several national and international research projects devoted to NATO, resilience, and civilian input into deterrence and defence. Her most recent publications include a research monograph entitled Civil-Military Cooperation in International Interventions: The Role of Soldiers (Routledge, 2022).