Over at Opinio Juris this morning, my good friend and colleague Scott Paul introduced the Making Amends Campaign, which is led by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC). Scott and CIVIC are working to develop a general practice of paying compensation whenever an innocent person is harmed or killed by a combat operation.
This goes far beyond the efforts to build a reliable system for making reparation following violations of international law. Rather, CIVIC is concerned with all innocent victims of warfare. As Scott points out:
The discrepancy between IHL’s provision for victims of violations and its indifference to the consequences of lawful behavior makes historical sense, but runs counter to contemporary notions of justice and fair play. To paraphrase Michael Reisman, who made this argument in his 1997 article The Lessons of Qana, there is no justification for allowing militaries to externalize massive costs onto an innocent civilian population. That some civilians are entitled to help and recognition for their suffering while others may simply be ignored is a black mark on a legal regime founded in part on ideals of human dignity.
I had the pleasure of watching Scott promote this campaign during last year’s ECOSOC meeting in Geneva. Scott, who has years of experience in advocacy and public service in Washington, is now a rising 3L at NYU Law.