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Acknowledge, Amend, Assist: addressing civilian harm caused by armed conflict and armed violence

Two victims of war?

Action on Armed Violence and Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Programme are co-hosting this October a US summit called Acknowledge, Amend, Assist: Addressing Civilian Harm Caused by Armed Conflict and Armed Violence.

The summit, on 31 October-1 November, will be at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is aimed at highlighting the need to share and develop a consolidated, multi-disciplinary approach to victim assistance.  We believe that there is a deep need to better address the needs of of victims of armed conflict and, more broadly, armed violence.

It is now well established that civilians bear the major brunt of armed conflict and armed violence. AOAV’s work on explosive weapons use in populated areas shows repeatedly that an average of 9 out of 10 people killed or injured by such weapons are civilians.

This stark reality reinforces our belief that civilians should occupy a permanent place in the hearts and minds of governments and humanitarian agencies during periods of armed conflict and armed violence. Yet experience has shown again and again that effective cross-sectoral collaboration is lacking in the prevention of continuing victimisation. To this end, this summit will examine how perspectives on counting the cost, making amends, transitional justice and victim assistance, can better address the harm suffered by civilians as a result of armed violence. To this end, our Harvard meeting will bring together humanitarian practitioners, notable academics and renowned experts in these fields. They will explore cross-cutting challenges and lessons as well as avenues for collaboration across these sectors.

The summit will commence with an address from a keynote speaker highlighting the need to address the devastation of armed conflict and armed violence, and the international capacity to do more for victims. This address, along with other expert panels on the first day, is open to the public, followed by a private programme of workshops for expert participants. The purpose of the workshops will be to explore cohesive multi-disciplinary approaches to engaging with the practical aspects of responding to civilian harm and to identify avenues for collaboration.

This summit aims to explore how we can effectively and sensitively acknowledge, amend and assist those civilians harmed by armed conflict and armed violence, and we welcome your attendance.