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Making Amends

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.

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