The CIVIC Toolkit for Advancing the Protection of Civilians in Conflict, distills over two decades of practical experience, sources in international law, and common recommendations on best practices into one simplified resource.


This toolkit is for civil society actors – international and local – and governments seeking to achieve a high global standard of protection for civilians caught in armed conflict and war.

The “toolkit” includes two main components:

1) An evaluation framework that can be used to measure progress against a set of practical objectives and end-states that signify the state’s commitment to better prevent and respond to civilian harm.

2) An advocacy guide that summarizes the steps in developing an advocacy strategy specific to protecting civilians.

  • To assist governments (including oversight bodies)  in diagnosing gaps and opportunities in their own policies and practices

  • To enable civil society from different sectors to focus on specific aspects of state practice or areas of concern in countries experiencing conflict or recovery from conflict.

  • To provide representatives from civil society a common basis for promoting a comprehensive set of policies and practices for protecting civilians before conflict occurs.

  • To unite representatives from global civil society through a common set of practical objectives and a shared vocabulary that can be used to advance the protection of civilians today and in the future.

Although governments should find the evaluation framework particularly useful, the toolkit was designed specifically with the goal of providing local and international civil society from all sectors with a common basis and vocabulary for evaluating state practice and promoting a higher global standard of protection.

Evaluation Framework

The Evaluation Framework is designed to help assess a state’s commitment to protect civilians by evaluating policy and practice across four main categories and at various stages of a conflict. 

  • National Commitment and Enabling environment: The national system of laws, policies, and other political indications of government support for the success of protection of civilian practices.

  • Preventing and Mitigating Harm: The measures taken during planning and operations to prevent and mitigate civilian harm.

  • Civilian Harm Response (Reporting, Investigations, Tracking, and Recording): The systems and procedures in place to detect, investigate, and track civilian harm.

  • Amends and Reparations:  The means by which the state ensures appropriate and effective redress for harms that result from unlawful conduct, as well as the discretionary amends, including monetary and non-monetary expressions of condolence.

 Each category is composed of five “illustrative indicators”, or desired end-states that together constitute a meaningful reflection of a state’s performance in that category.

Each category also provides a notional set of leadership “tiers” (leader, emerging leader, uncommitted, regressive), that can be used to gauge the overall performance of a government in the relevant category and sub-category of protection, or even to compare a government’s commitment to the category relative to other governments.

Advocacy Guide

The advocacy guide is divided into seven sections, each representing one of the steps towards the development of a theory of change (i.e. an explanation of why a problem is important and how a set of activities will lead to a desired outcome) and an effective advocacy strategy. Each section also contains helpful insights about what makes each step different when it comes to the protection of civilians.

The guide includes short sections, along with illustrations and examples for: 

  •  Identifying the problem
  •  Assessing the context
  • Self-assessment
  • Setting clear goals and objectives
  • Managing risk
  • Developing an action plan
  • Evaluating progress
Have Questions?

For additional information or to share feedback, please email:

Dan Mahanty, Director of Research, Learning, and Innovation,