A civilian is a person who does not belong to an armed force and does not carry weapons. They must obey the laws of war, but are not considered combatants. There are also situations when civilians may not be considered civilians. Some situations are considered non-combatant but are not really civilians. In these situations, a civilian may be deemed to be participating in an activity that is not combatant, but is still a threat.
Increasing the civilian contribution to UN peace operations is a growing challenge. The scope of these missions is more complex than ever before, integrating humanitarian, political, and development activities. This requires civilian expertise. Over the past five years, the number and complexity of civilian missions has increased dramatically. In addition, the civilian dimension has also undergone a series of institutional innovations.
While the term civilian is relatively new, its usage as an adjective is much older. It first appeared in the early nineteenth century, referring to the code of non-military law. Before that, civilian also meant a judge or expert in non-military law. The word civilian originates from French, but its current spelling has one “l” rather than two.
Despite the similarities, civilians can differ widely in their views and backgrounds. As a result, it is often difficult to draw a definitive line between a civilian and a combatant. Nevertheless, civilians may be considered combatants in certain cases, and they may face prosecution in national courts for their involvement.
Civilians bring valuable insights and perspectives to national security policymaking. Civilians who have a background in the social sciences, law, and management tend to have a diverse range of interests and experience in managing personal relationships. In addition, civilians have a better understanding of social power and how to balance conflicting interests. In other words, they are more likely to be able to influence national security policies.
A civilian may be defined as a person with a professional identity, a hobby, or a cultural identity. The distinction is often made on the basis of the type of role the person performs. A civilian may be a civilian in a particular field, or may be a soldier or a civilian in another country.
In Colombia, a civilian is a person who does not participate in hostilities. In a non-international armed conflict, this rule does not apply to armed opposition groups. In Colombia, the Colombian military manual defines a civilian as anyone who does not participate in hostilities. However, this definition is somewhat ambiguous, and it does not apply to armed opposition groups.