What Is a Civilian?

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A person who is not a member of the military or a combatant, or who does not participate in hostilities. Civilians are entitled to special protection from the dangers of military operations, and certain categories of civilians may be given enhanced protection by international humanitarian law. See also civil rights, non-combatant, peacekeeper, and neutral.

The word civilian derives from the French word for “lawful,” and it has a long history of use as a term for people who are not part of the army or other fighting forces, or for those who obey the laws that govern their lives. It was also a word used by legal scholars who specialized in the study of civil law, or law that applies outside of military courts.

While some argue that the distinction between civilian and military is artificial, it is an important principle of both domestic and international law. The distinction is essential to the idea of civilian control over the military, and it allows for a level of professional expertise in policymaking that complements and guides that provided by professional military officers.

Civilians bring a different perspective to the policymaking process, as well as experience and skills that are useful in areas like planning, public information, and property management. They are accustomed to balancing extremely diverse interests and navigating complex relationships, which can be crucial in addressing many of the issues that are faced when making decisions about wars, conflict resolution, and national security policies.

Whether it is because of their training in law and business or their experience in managing complex organizations, there is no question that civilians make great contributions to the defense and national security policymaking processes. It is important to remember, however, that the term civilian encompasses a wide variety of people with very distinct backgrounds and responsibilities. Civilians are so numerous in comparison to the small number of active duty military personnel, lumping them together for analytical purposes can be misleading.

If you are a civilian who is being accused of a crime, it is vital to seek the help of an experienced civilian criminal attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer can ensure that you are treated fairly, and that your rights are protected throughout the criminal process. Contact our office today to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your case. We can discuss your options for resolving your case in a way that is most beneficial to you and your family. We offer a free consultation to all potential clients. This is a no obligation, no pressure meeting. We look forward to hearing from you!