In partnership with the Essex University of Conflict Hub, CIVIC has developed a series of primers designed to identify key issues and findings, accompanied with recommendations, related to civilian harm in armed conflict.

In the first primer, “Investigations Into Civilian Harm in Armed Conflict,” the authors identify contemporary challenges and key issues related to investigations, and provide several recommendations to states for carrying out effective investigations.

Effective investigations into incidents of civilian harm in armed conflict are essential for establishing the legality of State actions and for ensuring accountability. They also serve as an essential stage in response to civilian harm for civilians themselves. While they cannot make up for the loss of a loved one or restore property, investigations can provide civilians with some answers about the cause and source of harm, recognition that harm has occurred, and open avenues for adequate reparations or amends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second primer, “Amends and Reparations for Civilian Harm in Armed Conflict,” the authors provide an overview of the assistance states provide to civilians who have been harmed as a result of military operations.

It clarifies the distinction between amends, which are electively offered to civilians for harm (even if those operations were lawful), and reparations, which are provided by states for violations of law. The paper also identifies some of the key issues and controversies related to post-harm assistance and provides a summary of recommendations for states in the development of effective post-harm assistance policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third primer, “Environmental Harm from Military Operations and the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” provides an overview of the relationship between the conduct of military operations, environmental harm, and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Further, it clarifies and provides recommendations on specific considerations for the incorporation of environmental protection in the conduct of military operations.


Most environmental harm in armed conflict occurs not through direct attacks, although examples of this exist, but rather as a result of incidental damage or pollution during the conduct of military operations. In order to mitigate civilian harm in conflict settings, States must consider the environmental impact of their military operations, including potential harm resulting from the indirect effects of operations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fourth and final primer, “Displacement in Armed Conflict and the Protection of Civilians,” provides an overview of how displacement affects the protection of civilians, focusing on situations of displacement within conflict-affected areas. It also examines certain fundamental issues
related to the role of States and militaries in preventing displacement and providing protection during displacement.


Armed conflict frequently causes mass displacement as civilians flee due to the direct consequence of violence or the indirect cumulative effects of war. The actions of States and their militaries as well as the actions of other belligerent parties, such as armed opposition groups controlling territory and people, affect the protection of displaced persons in conflict zones. Compliance with applicable law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international refugee law, and ensuring the provision of adequate humanitarian assistance can help prevent displacement and improve protection during displacement. Conversely, violations of international law in armed conflict can cause displacement and suffering, and impede durable solutions to displacement. Importantly, States need to support and cooperate with other actors such as the UNHCR and the ICRC, that specifically work on the protection of displaced persons.

 

 

 

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