This backgrounder explains the basic components of civilian harm tracking, analysis, and response, offers examples of its history and implementation, and answers questions surrounding the practice.

Tracking civilian harm caused by combat operations is an emerging best practice in places like Afghanistan and Somalia and—when properly implemented—has led to fewer civilian casualties. Any military operation that claims to prioritize civilian well being needs reliable data in order to understand how its operations impact the civilian population. The analysis of this data can allow a warring party to learn from their mistakes and appropriately respond to civilian harm by adjusting tactics and training and making amends  to civilians harmed.

Civilian harm remains a tragic reality in any conflict, not least in conflicts without clear battlefields to distinguish between combatant and civilian. By understanding the extent and circumstances of the harm through the process of tracking, analysis, and response, warring parties can get better at minimizing civilian suffering.


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


Image courtesy of Center for Civilians in Conflict
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