• 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

GUEST BLOGGER: Night Raids and Cultural Insensitivity Anger Kandahar Civilians

Posted By: Rebecca W., working with CIVIC’s Erica in Afghanistan

Mohddin is angry. His eyes glare at me while he speaks and he sits on the edge of his chair so that he can lean forward and emphasize his complaints. Unlike the majority of civilians who visit the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) office in Kandahar, he has not lost a close family member or had his property damaged. But he is angry about the life that he and his neighbors are being forced to endure. It is a life of insecurity and hardship – caught as they are between the Taliban and the international forces.

Mohddin came to the AIHRC office because he feels the situation is unjust. He was particularly frustrated with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – the international forces in Afghanistan. He told me he couldn’t understand why ISAF was hitting civilian targets. “They have sophisticated technology. Surely they can distinguish between the Taliban and the people,” he said, jabbing the air with his finger to emphasize his anger. “Now the people are beginning to think that the ISAF are deliberately targeting civilians. Their perception is that the ISAF forces are committing abuses and this is driving people more towards the anti-government forces.” Continue reading

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GUEST BLOG: At the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions

Posted By: Marc Garlasco, Senior Military Analyst, HRW and CIVIC Board Member

Here I am in Dublin at the massive Croke Park Stadium, with nearly one thousand diplomats and campaigners to write the text of a treaty banning cluster munitions. I never would have thought this event was possible just three or four years ago, and yet here we are about to ban one of the most dangerous weapons to civilians caught up in war.

From day one, I had reason to be optimistic. The media was in a frenzy and the Pope came out supporting the ban in this Catholic nation – that was some big news. But even knowing that we would have some kind of ban didn’t mean we’d have the ban we wanted. The treaty we’re here to create could get watered down by the Americans. The United States isn’t formally here (there are no official representatives) but there are surrogates attending, and while nobody will say “the Americans don’t want this” everyone knows it.

Like any conference, the real work happens in the hallways. I’ve spent my coffee breaks and lunches handing off documents and gathering information – like passing notes in high school. To get all 100+ countries here on board, we keep an eye on which country delegates are having coffee together and if their positions change after their caffeine fix.

After a somber week spent arguing about this or that detail we’re finally making some headway. France announced it would destroy all its cluster rockets (about 80% of all French cluster munitions). That’s the kind of leadership we’re looking for! The UK’s Gordon Brown directed his Ministry Of Defence to reassess their current cluster munitions. It just may signal a willingness to get rid of the M85 they used in Iraq and the CRV-7 they are so adamantly defending here. In the past they defended these weapons, but I’ve seen firsthand the civilian harm they cause. And after some Western nations demanded time to use their stockpiled bombs before the ban, the rest of the world rejected the request – first Mexico, then Mauritania, Costa Rica, Cooke Islands, Togo, on and on. For the first time, we actually heard applause break up the dark mood.

I am seeing more and more delegations scurrying off to call their capitals for instructions. We have to get this settled soon… time is short.

GUEST BLOG: Sudan’s other war victims…

Posted By: Michael, an aid and peace-building expert working in Darfur.

I recently spent a few days in Darfur, on a short-term assignment for an NGO working in the region. I was there to support the organization’s peace-building work, which seeks to create grassroots dialogue between and among tribes which live in the same area. Most of the world’s attention has focused on the 2.4 million people forced to flee their homes, many of whom now live in IDP camps scattered throughout the region. Millions more people, though, continue to live in villages and settlements across Darfur. They, too, are victims of the conflict — often living in fear, and brutal poverty. The peace-building project tries to foster stability in these difficult-to-reach rural areas, trying to restore some of the inter-tribal relationships and understanding that existed before the war. Continue reading

Meeting with the UN

Posted By: Erica

Yesterday I met with several officers of the United Nations mission here, referred to as UNAMA. The folks at UNAMA have themselves been trying to figure out how to coordinate support for civilian casualties. They agree with CIVIC that the international community should provide support for civilian casualties caused by international troops. They also share our concern that funds like ACAP and POHRF could be better coordinated both among NATO states and with agencies within the Afghan government. Having emergency relief or aid delivered and coordinated by an Afghan agency – perhaps at first in partnership with experienced humanitarian organizations – would strengthen the government’s longer-term capacity to aid those who have suffered the direct consequences of conflict. Continue reading

Peaceful Conflict Resolution?

Posted By: Erica

Last week, an Afghan organization I’m helping here in Kabul co-hosted a conflict resolution workshop with a Washington-DC based institution. Two trainers flew out from Washington to lead the three-day training session for about 20 Afghan NGO employees — from both international and local NGOs. Continue reading

Ft. Belvoir, VA: Civilian and military cooperation

Posted By: Marla B.

Today, with Jon Tracy, I visited Ft. Belvoir to participate in one of their training sessions. A satellite campus for the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir supports the CGSC’s mission to educate and develop leaders for full spectrum joint, interagency and multinational operations. It reminded me once again of the importance of dialogue between civilian and military folks. Continue reading