Center for Civilians in Conflict

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The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is a Washington, D.C. based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO). CIVIC was founded in 2003 by Marla Ruzicka as the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict.[1][2] CIVIC works on behalf of civilians in conflict-zones, providing research and advocating to policymakers.[3][4] CIVIC is a part of the Making Amends Campaign.[5] CIVIC's mission statement reads: "Our mission is to work with armed actors and civilians in conflict to develop and implement solutions to prevent, mitigate and respond to civilian harm."[6]


Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), formerly Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, was founded by Marla Ruzicka in 2003.[7] Marla, with the help of Senator Patrick Leahy, created a US-funded aid program dedicated to helping rebuild the lives of civilians unintentionally harmed by US combat operations.[citation needed] CIVIC works closely with the military and organizations such as NATO. Although Marla was killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad in April 2005, her colleagues, friends and family continue to run CIVIC. A staff was hired in early 2006[8][9] and the organization expanded its mandate in early 2007 beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. CIVIC achievements include persuading the US Congress to develop programs that aid victims caught in the middle of widespread conflict.[10]

Key Concepts[edit]


CIVIC tells the stories of how conflict affects civilians, and advocates that policymakers and armed actors recognize their rights, publicly acknowledge when they have been harmed, and take their well-being into consideration before, during, and after the fighting.[11]


CIVIC works with various armed actors to translate lessons learned and law into policies and practices that can prevent harm to civilians.[11]


CIVIC works with international organizations such as the United Nations and the African Union, as well as national militaries, to develop policies and build skills that enable them to protect civilians from those who would harm them.[11]


CIVIC advocates that armed actors and peacekeepers work with victims and survivors to offer appropriate amends to those injured and to the families of those killed. These may take the form of apologies and financial assistance. Whatever the form of amends, CIVIC has worked since 2003 to ensure the dignity of the victims and their families is recognized and respected.[11]


CIVIC released a report in 2009 on civilian harm in Northwest Pakistan.[12] It was based on a United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report that estimated a 40% increase in the number of civilian deaths in 2008.[13] Civic report concludes that civilian harm is compounded by widespread poverty and that while the Pakistani government does make amends most do not receive any due to deficiencies in compensation mechanisms and no effort from the US.[3] Another survey released by an individual associated with CIVIC counted two thousand killed and four thousand injured.[14] CIVICs reports suggest that the number of civilians killed and injured in war conflicts exceeds the number that the United States admits to.[15]


CIVIC partnered with the United States military to train US soldiers shipping out to Iraq and Afghanistan on avoiding civilians and how to compensate for any harm caused. CIVIC also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to analyze civilian claims of damages and craft legislation to address shortfalls in the current system (the Civilian Claims Act). CIVIC successfully pressed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member states to develop, fund, and ensure that a trust fund for war victims was in place.[citation needed]

CIVIC provided a military lawyer that worked with Harvard University to document US efforts to make amends to civilians suffering losses. They also organised for someone living in Afghanistan to help coordinate delivery of aid from NATO and the US to war victims. Over one-third of contributions to CIVIC come from individual contributions.[citation needed]

CIVIC received 10 million dollars from Congress as part of their initiative to advocate and help design a new US program for Pakistani war victims.[16] CIVIC has conducted interviews with Pakistani and US policymakers, humanitarians and officials from international organizations, and over 160 Pakistani civilians.

In Afghanistan, CIVIC’s research in Afghanistan and advocacy in Brussels directly led to NATO approving its first amends policy for Afghan war victims.[17] CIVIC’s advocacy in 2008-2009 led directly to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command emphasis on civilian harm mitigation and a significant shift in tactics to avoid civilian harm. According to UN reports, pro-government elements, (which includes ISAF and Afghan forces) accounted for 39% of civilian deaths in 2008. By 2010 that percentage dropped to 15%, and declined further by 2013 to 11%.[1]

In 2016, CIVIC conducted a six-month research project on the capabilities, gaps, and potential for civilian protection in the Ukrainian military and Ministry of Defense.

In 2017, CIVIC re-established a research and advocacy project in Mali to advance the protection of civilians through the UN peacekeeping operation, MINUSMA. Additionally, CIVIC successfully advocated for an increase in the capabilities of the peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic (CAR) publishing "The Primacy of Protection: Delivering on the MINUSCA Mandate in the Central African Republic." In the Democratic Republic of Congo CIVIC published "Protection with Less Presence: How the Peacekeeping Operation in DRC Is Attempting to Deliver Protection with Fewer Resources," based off CIVIC's research regarding the impact of MONUSCO base closures.

Headquarters and Offices[edit]

CIVIC is headquartered in Washington, DC and maintains field offices in New York, Nigeria, Iraq, the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, and Afghanistan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  2. ^ "The Campaign For Innocent Victims in Conflict". Zunia. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  3. ^ a b "What We Do". Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
  4. ^ "Civilians Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  5. ^ "Help us sustain CIVIC's work!". Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Archived from the original on 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  6. ^ "Who We Are | Civilians in Conflict". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  7. ^ Kessler, Glenn (2004-08-23). "U.S. Activist Mends Lives Torn by War". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  8. ^ REITMAN, JANET (Jun 2, 2005). "The Girl Who Tried to Save the World: The heroic life and final days of Marla Ruzicka, an American martyr". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2008-06-17.
  9. ^ Johnson, Jason B. (April 24, 2005). "LAKEPORT: More than 600 mourn peace activist at service". San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ "Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict (CIVIC)". A San Francisco Bay Area Progressive Directory. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  11. ^ a b c d "Key Concepts | Center for Civilians in Conflict". Center for Civilians in Conflict. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  12. ^ "CIVILIANS IN WAR: PAKISTAN". Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
  13. ^ Gaston, Erica (2009-02-26). "Losing the People: The Cost and Consequences of Civilian Suffering in Afghanistan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  15. ^ "CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT: Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan" (PDF). CIVIC. Retrieved 2010-12-14.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Accomplishments". Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  17. ^ "Center for Civilians in Conflict - Making an Impact by Minimizing Civilian Harm". Center for Civilians in Conflict. Retrieved 2017-12-08.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Rory McCarthy, "Iraq: after the war: Campaigners count bodies to ensure US compensation", The Guardian (London), May 17, 2003.

Photographer Julien Bryan described the scene: "As we drove by a small field at the edge of town we were just a few minutes too late to witness a tragic event, the most incredible of all. Seven women had been digging potatoes in a field. There was no flour in their district, and they were desperate for food. Suddenly two German planes appeared from nowhere and dropped two bombs only two hundred yards away on a small home. Two women in the house were killed. The potato diggers dropped flat upon the ground, hoping to be unnoticed. After the bombers had gone, the women returned to their work. They had to have food.

But the Nazi fliers were not satisfied with their work. In a few minutes they came back and swooped down to within two hundred feet of the ground, this time raking the field with machine-gun fire. Two of the seven women were killed. The other five escaped somehow.

While I was photographing the bodies, a little ten-year-old girl came running up and stood transfixed by one of the dead. The woman was her older sister. The child had never before seen death and couldn't understand why her sister would not speak to her...

The child looked at us in bewilderment. I threw my arm about her and held her tightly, trying to comfort her. She cried. So did I and the two Polish officers who were with me..." [Source: Bryan, Julien. "Warsaw: 1939 Siege; 1959 Warsaw Revisited."]

In September 1959 Julien Bryan wrote more about it in Look magazine:

In the offices of the Express, that child, Kazimiera Mika, now 30, and I were reunited. I asked her if she remembered anything of that tragic day in the potato field. "I should," she replied quietly. "It was the day I lost my sister, the day I first saw death, and the first time I met a foreigner - you." Today, Kazimiera is married to a Warsaw streetcar motorman. They have a 12-year-old girl and a boy, 9, and the family lives in a 1​12-room apartment, typical of the overcrowded conditions of war-racked Poland. She is a charwoman at a medical school (she told me her biggest regret is that her education ended when the war began), and all of the $75 earned each month by her husband and herself goes for food. Kazimiera and her husband, like most Poles, supplement their income with odd jobs, and are sometimes forced to sell a piece of furniture for extra money. But they celebrated my visit to their home with that rare treat, a dinner with meat.