Civilian Casualties and Strategic Peacebuilding
This chapter has two purposes. First, it traces the historical development of norms and rules of war as they relate to civilians, beginning with states’ original interest in helping combatants and ending with the current idea that the protection of civilians from violence is a universal responsibility. This normative shift has had the effect of increasing the influence of civilian casualty numbers on policy choices, making it all the more important to get the numbers right. Second, the chapter identifies strategic peacebuilding as an ambitious attempt to establish both lasting peace and a degree of justice, in part by placing civilian casualties at the center of retributive justice proceedings, such as criminal tribunals, and restorative justice processes, such as truth and reconciliation commissions. In these highly politicized environments, the process of revealing information about civilian losses can be as important as its outcome.
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