• About CIVIC

    CIVIC is a Washington-based non-profit organization that believes the civilians injured and the families of those killed should be recognized and helped by the warring parties involved.

    On this blog, you will find stories from our travels around the world as we meet with civilians and military, aid organizations and government in our quest to get war victims the help they need.

  • Countries

  • Contributors

    Sarah, Executive Director

    Marla B, Managing Director

    Kristele, Field Director

    Liz, Chief Communications Officer

    Trevor, CIVIC's fellow based in Afghanistan

    Chris, CIVIC's fellow based in Pakistan

    Jon, CIVIC's US military consultant

  • Media Content

LIBYA: “Where are our Human Rights?” [Part II]

Part 2 of 2, Part 1 is below.

By Liz Lucas

“Where are the human rights?” asked Ali Ali Mustafah. He has filled one of the few remaining rooms in his house with photos of the dead, including children.

As I count the photos, a young man draws my attention to a smaller photo I missed.  It is his brother, killed in the strike—another civilian, he says. There are 28 photos on the wall of Ali’s house, though he says not everyone who was killed has their photo up yet.  The dead included one pregnant woman and many other women and children.

Many of the dead in Zlitan—women, children—were reportedly civilians.  But verifying who and what was hit is tricky business in locations that were virtually obliterated and when the dead are quickly buried according to Muslim tradition.  So far NATO has admitted very few casualties from its strikes in Libya.

In Zlitan the families of the dead mostly want to know why. Other than the removal of bodies the scene has been left virtually untouched, a memoriam. Cars are twisted heaps of metal.  Bits and pieces of the families’ lives can be seen through the rubble.  Still, there has been no investigation of the incident.  There has been no compensation or outreach to the injured.

While there is no damage estimate, survivors say that compensation would be appreciated particularly to help the injured. Mostly, however, they want answers on why they were targeted.

At CIVIC we believe that NATO should immediately investigate these instances.  Even if these houses prove to have been legitimate military targets, NATO should provide support to the families of any civilians found to be harmed.  While no one can bring back the families lost, material support, along with an explanation and apology, can be given to help survivors start again.

“Children, families, what crime did they commit?” asked Ali.  “Imagine this was your house and your family.”

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UNITED NATIONS: Uganda Steps Up in Security Council Debate

Posted by:  Scott P

I spent the day here at the United Nations. At 10 a.m. sharp, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger called the UN Security Council to order as President. Seated around the horseshoe-shaped table were Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers, and high-level UN officials who had come from near and far to speak about the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. To put an exclamation point on this tenth anniversary of the first Security Council session on Protection of Civilians, the Council passed Resolution 1894 at the outset.

CIVIC had been keeping an eye on the negotiation of 1894 for weeks, and we were quite pleased to see its emphasis on compliance with international law and mention of reparations (the first such mention in any Security Council resolution on protection).

For two and a half full hours, the delegations on the Security Council took the floor and railed against impunity, implored other states to comply with the law of armed conflict, discussed the need for better guidance for peacekeepers, and drove home the importance of improving access to humanitarian assistance. At the end of the morning session, Sindelegger recognized Ugandan delegate Benedict Lukwiya, who concluded his statement with this powerful plea:

“Long after the guns have gone silent, affected populations, many of whom end up losing everything, are left to pick up the pieces with no assistance, even from friendly forces. International law does not provide for making amends to individuals, who lose property or livelihood as a result of armed conflict.  This draft resolution calls for national reparation programs for victims as well as institutional reforms. However, my delegation would like to go a step farther and also recognize the need for all parties to armed conflict to emphasize the dignity of civilians by recognizing losses that result from lawful combat operations as well as providing meaningful amends to affected individuals and communities, such as financial assistance or funding for humanitarian aid programs. My delegation encourages all member state to embrace the concept of making amends – not because there is any legal obligation to do so, but simply in the intrests of mitigating suffering and promoting humanity.”

It’s the first time anyone has made such a call at at the UN in it’s 64-year history — and we couldn’t have set it better ourselves.

CIVIC conceived of the concept of making amends several years ago. We believe that warring parties should help the civilians they harm. So the Ugandan representative’s remarks were a big victory for us.  Now that Uganda has taken the courageous step of introducing the idea of “making amends” at the UN, we’ll be working with our partners to officially launch a campaign on the same idea. Stay tuned!