The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is working toward a world where parties to armed conflicts recognize the dignity and rights of civilians, prevent civilian harm, protect civilians caught in conflict, and amend harm.

Our mission is to work with armed actors and civilians in conflict to develop and implement solutions to prevent, mitigate, and respond to civilian harm.


We believe that:

  • Parties to an armed conflict have a responsibility and interest to prevent and address civilian harm.
  • Engaging directly with armed actors and offering them practical ways to better protect civilians will ultimately change their mindset on the importance and feasibility of protecting civilians.
  • Civilians are not merely victims of armed conflict but rather active participants in its mitigation and resolution.
  • Identifying, engaging, and supporting vulnerable and marginalized populations is central to our work.
  • Working collaboratively with affected communities, governments, multilateral institutions, and fellow civil society organizations is the most effective way to protect civilians.
  • Innovation is essential to protecting civilians from conflict. 

Center for Civilians in Conflict was originally founded as the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) in 2003 by Marla Ruzicka, a young American activist and humanitarian who saw that civilians were being injured, killed, and forgotten by the armed parties in conflict. 

After war broke out in 2001, Marla traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She arrived in Kabul only a few days after the Taliban were removed from power. She noted that no one, including the US military, was keeping count or helping civilians unintentionally harmed in Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a new war in Iraq unfolded, Marla moved to Baghdad and organized a door-to-door survey of the Iraqi people. She took her results to Washington, DC where, working with US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marla helped create the first-ever US-funded aid programs dedicated to helping rebuild the lives of civilians unintentionally harmed by US combat operations. 

In April 2005, Marla was killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad while advocating for civilian war victims.

Fifteen years after Marla founded the organization, her extraordinary legacy lives on in CIVIC’s work around the globe.