WASHINGTON (July 1, 2016)—Federico Borello, Executive Director of Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), said:

“Today’s executive order on civilian casualties clearly signals that the United States recognizes both the ethical and strategic imperative to prevent harm, protect civilian men, women, and children caught on the battlefield, and to make amends for the harm its combat operations cause. Until now, the US military has had to reinvent the wheel in every new conflict due to the absence of a standing policy, causing unnecessary suffering to civilians in the process, so we commend President Obama for this landmark decision.

“What matters now is swiftly putting this into practice, particularly since the administration has only a few months left to set in motion the execution of this order. CIVIC urges the immediate steps:

  • The Pentagon should create a top-level office that answers directly to the Secretary of Defense to create civilian protection policies and supervise their implementation.
  • Agencies providing assistance to foreign militaries, such as the Department of State and the Department of Defense, should ensure that recipients incorporate civilian protection policies as a condition of weapons sales and training, and that policies to protect civilian men, women, and children are uniform across coalitions, such as the one fighting ISIS.
  • The Department of Defense should swiftly develop a standing amends policy for civilians harmed by US operations worldwide.
  • Finally, Congress must recognize that this country’s national security and its standing in the world are bipartisan concerns and pass legislation making elements of this executive order permanent law.

“Civilian protection usually becomes a priority only after tragedies have already occurred. This is neither ethically acceptable nor strategically smart. Today’s order is a welcome change in this ad hoc thinking, but without swift and effective action, this executive order will end up as empty rhetoric, and the failure to properly protect civilians will further erode American leadership around the world.”



Notes to editors:

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s mission is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.

For more information, contact Christopher Allbritton at +1 (917) 310-4785 or chris@civiliansinconflict.org.

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