“On Civilian Harm”: Introduction
This chapter is part of our book 'On Civilian Harm'. It is the introduction to the book, its intended audiences, objectives, and structure. In addition, it contains an explanatory section on the terminology applied in the book.
Armed conflict and violence adversely affect civilians. Whether civilians are the primary target of the use of violence, are caught in the crossfire, or have to rebuild and make a living in war-torn societies, they are always at risk of becoming victims during conflict, and may continue to struggle with its aftermath long after active fighting has ended. This book tells their story. More precisely, the book is about actors who do harm, key factors that contribute to either causing or mitigating harm, civilians who are harmed, and how to find a way out of this destructive cycle. This publication regards specific situations of violent conflict and seeks to provide a detailed examination of the myriad of ways in which the use of violence negatively affects civilians. This is a vital object of study and one that requires continuous scrutiny as military technologies and modes of warfare change, and in parallel so do our abilities to comprehensively track, map and investigate the impact of fighting on people and their environment.