CIVIC is a Washington-based organization founded by the late Marla Ruzicka, a passionate humanitarian killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad while advocating for war victims in Iraq. CIVIC believes that civilians injured and the families of those killed should be recognized and aided by the warring parties involved, and is working toward smart, compassionate policies for civilians caught in the crossfire of conflict.
Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) advocates on behalf of victims of armed conflict, working to ensure they receive recognition and assistance from warring parties.
CIVIC persuaded the US Congress to establish programs for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, guides victims to assistance, brings the human cost of war to the attention of policymakers and the public, and is advocating a new global standard of conduct that warring parties should help where they have hurt.
In 2005, CIVIC's founder Marla Ruzicka was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber while advocating for families injured and killed in the crossfire. CIVIC honors her legacy and strives to sustain her vision.
In the past year alone CIVIC, broadly: • Pressed NATO to help civilians harmed by military operations in Afghanistan. A fund to do just that has now been instituted; • Traveled to conflict zones (including Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and successfully focused major media on war victims with significant on-camera interviews on CNN and BBC World, opinion pieces in USA Today, International Herald Tribune, and the Washington Post. • Successfully called on the US Congress – urging compassion and arguing best interest – to provide adequate funding to help civilians injured and the families of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. • Urged US officials and Congressional policymakers to lead by example on compensation and aid in Afghanistan and to improve the US claims system in Iraq; • Made recommendations to US humanitarian programs for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those recommendations were implemented and improvements are now at work on the ground. • Closely monitored and urged evaluation
We at CIVIC hope to look back one day and say, “Now, civilians harmed in war are helped by those responsible.”
Yet today, we’re not there. In fact we’re not even close. The Laws of War protect civilians in war, and tell warring parties they should avoid harming civilians by all means feasible. But what happens after the bombs drop and the smoke clears?
There is an alarming commonality among conflicts the world over: civilian lives torn apart and the near absence of responsibility taken by the warring parties involved. CIVIC believes that warriors have a duty to help those they harm. It’s a simple concept, but one that is rarely followed. We’re working to change that.
1. We are urging warring parties to take responsibility and provide appropriate assistance to civilians they’ve harmed.
2. We are pressing the adoption of a new international norm that dictates recognition and making amends to civilians harmed in conflict.
3. We are the voice for war victims who would otherwise not be heard.
In CIVIC’s earliest days, Marla Ruzicka arranged for the evacuations of injured children to the U.S. for treatment and successfully identified cases of civilian harm requiring compensation from the U.S. military. Marla’s stunning achievement was her partnership with Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT) to create a US-funded humanitarian program for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraq version of this program would later be named the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund.
CIVIC now works to change the way warring parties treat civilians harmed in conflicts around the world and has continued success being the voice for war victims who would not otherwise be heard.
Sarah Holewinski is Executive Director of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), a group advocating for civilians caught in the crossfire of war. Sarah was a member of The White House AIDS Policy team from 1997 - 2001 and later joined a group of former presidential speechwriters at West Wing Writers in Washington. She has worked as a consultant for Human Rights Watch and with the William J. Clinton Foundation in Rwanda to combat HIV in Africa. Sarah holds a Masters in Security Policy from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in political theory from Georgetown University.
DAVID C. FRANKEL | 4th Wave Law MARC GARLASCO | Human Rights Watch, Countess Moira Charitable Foundation HEATHER B. HAMILTON | Non-profit Strategist GEN. RICHARD M. O'MEARA (RET.) | Rutgers University COL. (RET.) JAY PARKER, PhD | Georgetown University APRIL PEDERSEN | DemocracyInAction.org TARA SUTTON | Award-winning freelance video journalist PETER F. WINDREM | Windrem Law Firm