Currently, policy decisions about security and justice are typically made before decision-makers can meaningfully consult communities affected by conflict. We aim to change that. If policies and programs reflect, incorporate, and respond to the views of the communities they affect, they will better deter both security threats and atrocities. CNS is seeking to generate victim-centered policy solutions to justice and security threats by:

  1. Placing victims’ views and priorities at the center of policy decisions that affect them.
  2. Making policies and programs more responsive, evidence-based, and trauma-informed.
  3. Strengthening the capacity of survivor-led coalitions and communities affected by conflict to prevent and effectively respond to atrocities.

Our vision is to generate a unique evidence base about what justice mechanisms actually work, to advocate for victims while educating decision-makers, to strengthen the capacity of front-line actors, and to build the next generation of advocates for the victims of atrocities.

Our project on Cumulative Civilian Harm aims to highlight and rectify the glaring blindspot in international law and policy with respect to the cumulative impact of conflict on civilians. International law does not clearly regulate civilian deaths that accumulate through many attacks over time in the course of a conflict, nor does it recognize the indirect effects on civilians of prolonged exposure to conflict. This three-year project, which we are undertaking in partnership with the Universities of Essex, Oxford, and Duke, and the Israel Democracy Institute, is supported by the National Science Foundation and UKRI. Learn more about the project by clicking this link.

With support from Humanity United and other donors, we have launched the Innovation Council for International Justice. Through this initiative, we are creating a new justice table, with a radically diverse set of actors and new processes to help decision-makers respond to the call for justice for mass atrocities in a victim-centered way. Our cornerstone project—a first-of-its-kind Protocol on Victim Consultation—will set the gold standard in the design and implementation of transitional justice measures. We also provide technical assistance to support victim and survivor-led coalitions so that they are equipped and empowered to develop and pursue their own justice blueprints. See “Pursuing Justice for Mass Atrocities: A Handbook for Victim Groups”. This project was formerly led by Executive Director Anna Cave and authored by Senior Associate Sarah McIntosh while at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.