Washington, D.C. August 25, 2022 – CIVIC welcomes the release of the Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMR-AP), an ambitious plan to overhaul how the United States prevents and responds to civilian harm. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III mandated the CHMR-AP in a January 2022 memo, following civil society calls for urgent reforms after over 20 years of repeated civilian harm without meaningful accountability, learning, or policy change. 

Among other things, the CHMR-AP directs the Defense Department to incorporate civilian harm guidance into strategy, doctrine, plans, and training; address the risk of misidentification and cognitive bias in targeting; improve and standardize investigations of civilian harm; establish a comprehensive framework for responding to civilian harm with dignity and respect; address civilian harm risks in partnered operations and security cooperation; and create dedicated positions for civilian harm mitigation and response across the Department.

In reaction to the release of the CHMR-AP today, Annie Shiel, CIVIC’s Senior Advisor for the United States, commented:

“We commend the Department of Defense for the level of ambition that is evident in this unprecedented action plan. If implemented effectively, the CHMR-AP offers opportunities to address longstanding structural flaws in U.S. policy and practice, prevent future harm, and provide civilians harmed by U.S. operations with the recognition and response they deserve. The hard work begins now, with implementation, and the true measure of this effort will be how it delivers real results for civilians.


“The action plan does not appear to include a commitment to looking back at the many past cases of civilian harm that have gone under-investigated, unacknowledged, and without amends. Investigating and making amends for past harm is critical to achieving the kind of accountability and learning that the action plan strives for, and we encourage the Department to ensure that is a part of this work moving forward.”

Read CIVIC and civil society partners’ past guidance for the CHMR-AP here.


For more information and media inquiries, please contact:

Annie Shiel, Senior Adviser, US Policy and Advocacy, ashiel@civiliansinconflict.org  

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