Date of Award


Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2014 Danny Hirschel-Burns. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Peace & Conflict Studies Department

First Advisor

Lee A. Smithey

Second Advisor

Christopher Tuckwood


This thesis seeks to highlight and understand the phenomenon of civilian self-protection during mass atrocities. I begin by demonstrating the structural barriers to international atrocity prevention and mitigation, and why civilian self-protection is therefore necessary. Next, to contexualize civilian self-protection, I look at why mass atrocities happen and how they work, arguing they are elite-led processes, but occur in a complex conflict system. The core of the thesis looks at empirical examples of civilian self-protection, theorizes their dynamics, and proposes avenues for their improvement. Finally, I use civilian self-protection to bridge divides between various theories and disciplines. This thesis is the first academic work to examine why civilian self-protection is necessary, how civilians respond differently to various types of mass violence, and civilian self-protection's place in related theoretical literature.