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Addressing Civilian Harm in Afghanistan

Policies & Practices of International Forces

Afghan civilians deserve amends from warring parties for deaths, injuries, and property losses—that is, some form of recognition and monetary compensation. The CIVIC's research into the experiences of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops and Afghan civilians demonstrates that when international military forces provide payment, especially combined with an apology for harm, civilian hostility toward international forces decreases. However, the effectiveness of these payments has been limited by the lack of uniform policies across ISAF nations, limited information gathering about civilian harm generally and, in many cases, insensitive requirements that civilians suffering losses take the initiative to file claims.

This report describes the policies and practices of major ISAF Troop Contributing Nations. It finds that soldiers as well as civilians view amends for harm favorably. The process of investigation, negotiation of payment, and offers of formal compensation are opportunities to strengthen relationships with local leaders and communities, to explain what happened, and acknowledge loss.

Report authored by Chris Rogers for Center for Civilians in Conflict in June 2010.

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For media inquiries please contact:
Christopher Allbritton at +1 (917) 310-4785 or chris@civiliansinconflict.org