On Civilian Harm

On Civilian Harm

June 14, 2021

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What negative effects of the use of force do civilians experience in conflict beyond the direct, physical impacts? And how can we reduce both immediate and long-term suffering in future missions? We address these and other questions in our book ‘On Civilian Harm.’

In our work at PAX, we have identified three problems in how civilian harm by violent conflict is discussed. First, we need to overcome the outdated notion that war is too chaotic to really understand what is happening on the ground. Second, as a community of practice, we often fail to use clear and consistent language when talking about civilian harm. And finally, we noticed that public and professional attention is overwhelmingly focused on only a single, visible part of civilian harm – ‘the wounded and the dead’ – obscuring other negative effects that remain long after the fighting has stopped.

In ‘On Civilian Harm,’ we explore the ways in which civilians are negatively affected by violent conflict, offer tools and language to discuss the phenomenon, make practical recommendations for civilian harm mitigation and raise questions for further debate.

Go to protectionofcivilians.org to watch the booklaunch, see a video about ‘On Civilian Harm’, to read the book online or download its individual chapters.

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