CIVIC envisions a world in which no civilian is harmed in conflict. We support communities affected by conflict in their quest for protection and strengthen the resolve and capacity of armed actors to prevent and respond to civilian harm.
We believe that:
- Civilians are not “collateral damage” and civilian harm is not an unavoidable consequence of conflict — civilian harm can and must be prevented.
- Civilians are not merely victims of conflict but have agency and influence in ensuring that their protection needs are met.
- Civilians experience conflict differently based on several aspects of their identities, including gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, ethnicity, and language and therefore have different protection needs.
- Armed actors are responsible and must be held accountable for preventing and addressing civilian harm.
- Direct engagement with armed actors and civilians is necessary to significantly reduce harm and improve protection outcomes for conflict-affected communities.
- Working collaboratively with a wide range of partners and in coalitions is critical to accelerating global action on the protection of civilians and reducing public tolerance for civilian harm.
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.