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2013 | Monetary Payments for Civilian Harm in International and National practice, commissioned by CIVIC (Centre for Civilians)

How much is a life worth? While it is impossible to put a price on life, there is an important conversation to be had around the various levels of payment offered to victims of violence in response to their losses.

This report maps various programs and their implementation in settings of armed conflict and in response to serious crimes and terrorist attacks. The report’s aim is not to “set a price” on civilian losses, but rather to evaluate the consistency of current practice in providing monetary payments—both the amounts and the methodology used by the entity offering the payment 

The programs studied vary enormously according to their economic context (currencies, living standards, inflation, the amount of funding available) and as to the rationales behind them. Rationales include ethical obligation (consider post-holocaust reparations schemes), strategic advantage, (the need for foreign peace-keepers to engender goodwill among the civilian during lawful combat operations) and legal obligation arising under a peace agreement, a court statute or a UN sponsored compensation commission. Disparities also exist regarding the categories of harm for which monetary payments have been made, the amounts awarded, and the manner in which these amounts are determined. The authors attempt to explain and account for some of these disparities and inconsistencies in their analysis. Click here to read the report.