There is a widespread view that civilians are worse off in today' wars than ever before. Civilians are often deliberately targeted by belligerents or are victims of ‘collateral damage’. They form the majority of victims of landmines. They are used as human shields. They are displaced from their homes, even from their country. They are affected, often more than soldiers, by the pestilence, famine and displacement that wars bring in their wake. They are often particularly vulnerable in the types of war that are most prevalent in the world today – including civil wars and asymmetric conflicts. Children are forced to become soldiers. How can it be that the lot of civilians in war remains so dire, when so much attention has been paid to the protection of civilians in war – not just in international treaties, but in the work of international organizations and also that of numerous humanitarian bodies?